Engineering Continuing Education – What Are Professional Development Hours?

Engineering Continuing Education – What Are Professional Development Hours?

Suppose in a few months you will be renewing your Professional Engineering license. Going through the checklist, you notice that you need a few more engineering continuing education credits. Oh no, there is not enough time left to register for a college class or find a convention or seminar in your local area. What are you going to do? What about online? Are there any websites offering engineering continuing education courses? Yes there are. You have found several websites, but will your State Licensure Board accept the courses? And what is the difference between a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) and Professional Development Hour (PDH)?

Many engineers with a Professional Engineer license obtain their technical and managerial skills by mostly attending professional monthly meetings, which generally accumulate 0.5 PDH per meeting, and either attending conferences or seminars, where 1 or more PDHs are offered for each presentation. At least 30 states require continuing education units with the minimum requirement usually 15 PDHs per year or 30 PDHs every two years. The courses have to be related to engineering and can be on topics that are technical, ethical, or managerial. According to the National Society of Professional Engineers, one acceptable activity to earn PDHs is attending continuing education courses. Online courses are usually acceptable in all states, but a few states do limit the number of online courses. Five states (New York, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Oklahoma) require the State Licensure Board to pre-approval of PDH sponsors. Licensees should look into their state’s requirements.

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Licensed engineers, on a voluntary or mandated basis, attend continuing education courses not only for licensure renewal but also to ensure competency. These engineers earn Professional Development Hours (PDH) for attending these courses. A Professional Development Hour is considered one contact hour of course work of either instruction or presentation. The licensee is responsible for maintaining records to be used to support credits claimed. Currently, 30 of the 50 states mandate ongoing education to maintain competency for licensed engineers.

1 Continuing Education Unit (CEU) = 10 Professional Development Hours (PDH)


1 hour luncheon with presentation 0.05 CEUs = 0.5 PDHs

1 day seminar granting 0.7 CEUs = 7 PDHs

1.5 day seminar granting 1 CEU = 10 PDHs

2 day seminar granting 1.3 CEUs = 13 PDHs

3 day seminar granting 2 CEUs = 20 PDHs

In this article we have discussed what a professional development hour is for engineers. Many states are requiring that engineers attend these courses to stay current in their area of expertise. For the most part engineers are required to qualify and document the course they have completed each renewal period. In our rapidly changing industry completing the appropriate course can be the difference between an employed and an unemployed engineer.