The process of obtaining professional registration in your chosen field can be a daunting task. Many CSEG and CSPG members have given up in their attempts through frustration and lack of understanding of the process. Those more fortunate to have "made the grade" undoubtedly think the trials they endured to obtain professional registration are behind them. But in the current world of global competition, when will your next job opportunity be in another province or country? What if that opportunity requires that you be registered in the new jurisdiction? It is becoming increasingly important that everyone understand the process required to become a registered professional. There are provincial, national and international issues that need to be understood and problems to be resolved. But lets start with the process of becoming a registered Professional Geologist or Geophysicist in Alberta.
In Canada, Engineers have established a national accreditation program to standardize engineering programs across the country. The accreditation process is coordinated through the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, a national body. Engineering graduates across Canada are virtually assured of being accepted for professional registration by any provincial body.
Graduates of Geological and Geophysical programs do not have national accreditation standards and the provinces that register Professional Geologists and Geophysicists each set their own standards. Registration is not necessarily transferable between provinces and the issue becomes increasingly unclear when transfer to the USA is contemplated.
So what is being done about the problem? A National Geology Syllabus has been developed and the first draft of a National Geophysics Syllabus is circulating for discussion. By publishing these standards it is hoped that university programs will be structured to follow the standards and provincial registration bodies will accept graduates from programs following those standards. In addition, work is underway to establish a national body called the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists to oversee national standards for academic programs and registration. Please read the article in this issue on "Professional Registration of Geoscientists in Canada" by Gordon Williams, Ph.D., P.Geol.
As far as registration for APEGGA in Alberta, the Board of Examiners is using the current Geology and Geophysics Syllabus as guidelines for registration. APEGGA has also published three one page brochures describing the registration process and the syllabus for the Geology and Geophysics disciplines. Following is printed major sections of the registration criteria and instructions brochure as published by APEGGA which is meant to compliment the registration application form.
Geoscience Registration Criteria & Instructions
Everyone registering with APEGGA must fill out an application, except former members whose membership lapsed less than 7 years ago or graduating students from the University of Alberta or The University of Calgary. In the case or former members, a letter requesting reinstatement is required indicating the dates of your previous registration and full details of your work experience since your membership lapsed. Graduating students can use a simplified application package.
If you are planning to move to Alberta but do not yet have a permanent residence here, please do not submit an application until you have actually taken up residence in Alberta.
If you do not have a degree, your application will not be considered unless you meet a minimum set of academic, experience and character requirements. You must possess an academic background equivalent to at least two years post-secondary education, have at least one year of experience in a position that is related to the practice of the professions and be of good character.
Geologists and Geophysicists on a Board of Examiners evaluate applicants according to Section 21 of the Regulations accompanying the Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professional Act as follows.
Section 21 - An applicant for registration shall meet the following qualifications before being approved for registration:
- a confirmed degree in Engineering, Geology, or Geophysics from a university program approved by the Board of Examiners in a related program or equivalent qualifications demonstrated by passing such examinations as may be required by the Board;
- when the academic qualifications are met by an acceptable university degree, by passing confirmatory examinations or by passing examinations to make up for deficiencies in the applicant's academic qualifications as determined by the Board of Examiners, at least 2 years of experience satisfactory to the Board of Examiners in the practice of engineering, geology or geophysics subsequent to university graduation in Engineering, Geology, or Geophysics;
- when the academic qualifications are met by passing examinations prescribed by the Board of Examiners, a total of 6 years of engineering, geological or geophysical work, at least 1 of which must be obtained subsequent to meeting the academic requirements, of a nature satisfactory to the Board·,
- knowledge of the Act, demonstrated by passing an examination set by the Board of Examiners;
- communication abilities in the English language satisfactory to the Board of Examiners as demonstrating the ability to responsibly practice the profession of engineering, geology or geophysics in Alberta;
- general knowledge related to the practice of the professions demonstrated by passing an examination in Professional Practice set by the Board of Examiners; and
- good character and reputation.
If you feel you meet the requirements of Section 21 a review of the section on Residency and Citizenship should reveal whether you apply to be a Professional Member, Canadian Licensee or Foreign Licensee. If you feel you met the academic and character requirements but do not have the experience necessary you should apply to be a Member-In-Training (MIT). If you do not meet either the academic or experience requirements but do meet the minimum standards to apply you should request registration as a student. You must also be an Alberta resident and Canadian citizen (or landed immigrant). Applicants with foreign degrees should review the section on Post Secondary Education to determine the probability of being assessed exams. If you are likely to be assessed exams and you have more than 10 years' experience you should apply for full professional status. If you have less than 10 years of experience it is unlikely that the number of exams will be reduced on the basis of experience. Applying as an MIT will save some money in application fees in the short term but your experience will not be reviewed.
You must be an Alberta resident to be registered as a Professional Member and a Canadian resident to be registered as a Canadian Licensee. Others may be granted registration as Foreign Licensees. There is no residency requirement for an MIT, however, if you are out of Province, it may be advantageous to carry through to Professional Membership in another province and then transfer to APEGGA. Alberta residency is not required for an Exam Candidate but special arrangements must be made to administer exams outside of Alberta. Students must be Alberta residents.
Once registered as a Professional Member or Member in Training you will retain that designation in APEGGA wherever you reside in the world. If you are enrolled as an MIT in Alberta and must leave the Province you may finalize your application to be a Professional Member with APEGGA even though you are no longer a resident.
You must be a Canadian citizen or a Landed Immigrant to request registration as a Professional Member or Canadian Licensee. Otherwise, you may be granted registration as a Foreign Licensee. If you were not born in Canada and you wish to be registered as a Professional Member, a copy of your citizenship papers or the Canadian Immigration Record and Visa is required. There is no citizenship requirement to be either an MIT or an Exam Candidate. Students must be Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants.
Post Secondary Education
You will be asked to list all post secondary education. The academic achievements must be confirmed by the institution( s) that you attended by using the attached Request Form directly to your educational institution; do not return to this office. The reverse side of that form clarifies under what circumstances we require either Certification of Graduation or Transcripts.
There is no national accreditation system for geology. APEGGA has developed a Geology syllabus against which the transcripts from all geology applicants are compared. Applicants with degrees may be assessed exams on a course by course basis and will be registered as Exam Candidates.
There is no national accreditation system for geophysics. APEGGA has developed an approved degree list of Canadian Universities for Geophysics. Other 4 year degrees in engineering, geology, math and physics may be acceptable without writing any exams but additional experience IS required to compensate for the lack of formal geophysics academic training.
Foreign applicants with Geology or Geophysics degrees will be assessed exams on a course by course basis if the academic information is clear or may be asked to write three confirmatory exams if the information is not clear.
Applicants without a degree will be assessed exams on a course by course basis and will be registered as Students.
General Information on Writing Exams
More detailed information on exam administration will be provided should you be assessed exams. Technical exams are administered in Alberta in the first week of May and November. Syllabi including course content and recommended texts are provided and course equivalent lists are provided when equivalents are allowed. One copy of an old exam is generally available. No instruction is provided by APEGGA.
You will be asked to provide full employment details in reverse chronological order (present/most recent first) including the period of employment, the company name and location and the name and current address of supervisors. Details of the position should include the position title, the general responsibilities that can be found in a job description, the specific assignments, values, successes, degrees of independence and initiative needed and evidence of increasing levels of responsibility.
APEGGA requires that an applicant have at least 2 years' experience that is acceptable to the Board of Examiners. The Board is concerned with the quality and breadth of experience and that you have been directly supervised by a Professional Member. The experience factor is more thoroughly explained at length in the brochure.
Character & Experience References
You will be asked to provide the names and current addresses of at least three persons, at least one of whom is/has been your supervisor and at least two of whom are professional members with APEGGA or another comparable professional association. You will be asked to indicate whether the reference is/was your employer, supervisor, mentor, colleague, friend or client.
Knowledge of Law and Ethics
All applicants must pass a Professional Practice Examination unless the applicant has been registered in another comparable professional association for at least five years or has passed the Exam before. The Exam may be written by any applicant who has at least one year of experience since graduation. More information is provided in the Information for the Professional Practice Exam, the Application to Write and the Literature Order Form, enclosed in the application package. The costs and dates change at the beginning of each year, so if your form is out of date please call for the current information before you submit your forms.
Professional Development Seminars I & II are given in Edmonton and Calgary to familiarize applicants with professional responsibility and the Act, Regulations and By-Laws. They also provide opportunities to exchange views on professional problems, job responsibilities, performance, career paths and options. The APEGGA offices have more information.
English Language Competency
Applicants whose native language is not English must confirm their ability to write and speak English in one of two ways. Either give us a letter in your own hand writing explaining why you feel that your English is acceptable or get a TOEFL score of 600 or better.
Applicants will be asked to fully disclose any activity or registration with APEGGA or another association.
For a more complete brochure explanation or free copies please call the APEGGA office in Calgary or Edmonton. The three brochures: a.) Geoscience Registration Criteria & Instructions; b.) Geology - Syllabus of Examinations; and c.) Geophysics - Syllabus of Examinations, will be mailed to you upon request.
Significant changes in the professional registration process are currently taking place across Canada. These changes will impact many people and I urge everyone to keep informed. If you have concerns or would like to become more involved you can contact the author through either the CSEG of CSPG offices.