Continuing Education auditsBy Edwin Bayó, Esq.

Engineers in Florida are primarily regulated by two Florida Statutory Chapters, 455 and 471. Chapter 471, F.S., also known as the Florida Engineering Practice Act, contains laws that apply only to Professional Engineers.

One of these laws requires PEs to complete 18 hours of continuing education every biennium. Of the 18 hours, one hour must relate to the Florida laws and rules of Professional Engineers and be from a Board-approved provider, and one hour must relate to professional ethics. Four hours must relate to an area of practice. The remaining 12 hours may be related to any topic pertinent to the practice of engineering.

Engineers licensed in multiple states face the challenge of keeping up with different state rules on the number of hours and what qualifies as acceptable CE courses. Currently, 42 states and the District of Columbia require CE for renewal of licensure. In addition, some of these states require that engineers report their CE as part of the licensure renewal process.

Chapter 455, F.S., contains several laws applicable to all practitioners, including PEs, under the umbrella of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). One of these laws is Section 455.2177, F.S., titled Monitoring of compliance with continuing education requirements. This somewhat obscure statute requires DBPR to monitor licensee compliance with applicable CE requirements. The term “monitor” means the act of determining, for each licensee, whether the licensee was in compliance with the applicable CE requirements as of the time of their license renewal.

Paragraph (3) of that statute allows DBPR to waive the CE monitoring requirements for any profession that has a program in place that measures compliance through statistical sampling techniques or other methods that can indicate at least 95 percent of licensees are compliant. Under that statute, the Florida Board of Professional Engineers adopted Rule 61G15-22.006, Florida Administrative Code, which established a random CE audit process that had been in place since 2001. As part of the license renewal process, PEs had to click a button that served as a declaration that they had completed all the required CEs. FBPE then randomly audited a minimum of 3 percent of licensees to ensure that the CE requirements were being met. Unfortunately, these random audits demonstrated a compliance rate of 85 to 90 percent. Because the 95 percent requirement in the statute was not being met, actual monitoring for CE compliance will now become a reality.

Starting with the renewal period beginning November 2024, PEs will not only have to click the button declaring that they have completed their required CE hours, but they will also have to provide documentation that they have done so. Many professions in Florida already require licensees to record their CE in a database that can be accessed by their respective licensing board as proof that the subjects and hours of CE were taken. Something along those lines will now be required for Florida PEs.

FBPE is currently deciding how to implement this mandatory reporting requirement. There is a CE tracking tool available to engineers through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, the same outfit that provides all those wonderful engineering licensure examinations. NCEES uses the acronym CPC, for Continuing Professional Competency, in their tracking tool. This service allows you to select the appropriate licensing state, add the course information and corresponding CE hours, upload supporting documentation to your account, and transmit a transcript electronically to a state licensing board. The best part of this service is the cost, which is free.

Rule 61G15-22.006, F.A.C., has been amended to reflect that random audits will now be a thing of the past. The Board is continuing to develop the mechanism by which PEs will be required to report their continuing education and will notify all PEs once that process is established. Stay tuned.

About the Author

Edwin Bayó is a former counsel to the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. A partner in Grossman, Furlow, & Bayó, he is board certified in state and federal government and administrative practice by the Florida Bar.