Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Board for Professional Soil Scientists, Wetland Professionals, and Geologists
Regulations for the Geology Certification Program [18 VAC 145 ‑ 40]
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8/1/23  9:59 am
Commenter: Anonymous

Professional Geologist Licensure
I am a Virginia licensed Professional Geologist with over a decade's experience working in environmental remediation and geotechnical engineering. Concerning design engineering for construction, geologists have very specific education, training, and understanding of the earth's subsurface which even geotechnical engineers do not traditionally possess.
Often in engineering design, when a geologist's specific expertise is required, it is because unusual and costly (or even dangerous) site conditions have been encountered such as sinkholes, contaminated soil/groundwater, rock slope stability, etc. Geologists frequently provide expertise that other professions cannot offer to ensure smart and cost-effective design decisions are made and that public safety is protected.
Licensure of geologists ensures individuals practicing geology have adequate education and are strongly incentivized to never provide services or recommendations for anything they are not experts in. This is particularly important as the practice of geology spans numerous disciplines from mining, hydrogeology, geophysics, environmental science, to engineering geology. Unqualified consultants might be willing to step outside the bounds of professional expertise if the accountability of the geology profession is decreased by the loss of licensure.
Geologists are involved in numerous critical public sector works - from ensuring public and private groundwater supply is available in rural counties to ensuring rock face walls adjacent to major urban highways do not collapse or that dams do not fail. It would be ill-advised to do anything that reduces the regulation of geologists. Virginia does not allow engineers or surveyors to practice without licensure due to concerns regarding public safety; why allow geologists to practice without licensure when so many of their roles are also critical to maintaining public safety and infrastructure?
CommentID: 218260