Professional credential status and plans among COVID-19 study participants

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As a side analysis of the Geoscience COVID-19 study, the state of licensure and certification of participants was can­vassed. Professional licensure is common among non-ac­ademic geoscientists because it is often required for their occupation, and among survey respondents, 71% of non-ac­ademic geoscience survey participants noted that they had a professional license or certification. In addition, nearly one-third of academic faculty also mentioned having professional licensure or certification.

DB_2021-025 chart 01: Professional credentials by survey cohort (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

The most common license noted by participants was the Professional Geologist license, but other geoscience profes­sional certifications and licenses were also noted, including Certified / Licensed Hydrogeologist, Certified Engineering Geologist, Professional Soil Scientist, Professional Geophys­icist, among others. Those non-academic geoscientists who specified that they held the Geologist-In-Training (GIT) certification were recent geoscience graduates.

Plans for licensure

Most study participants (92%) indicated that they had no plans for taking a professional certification or licensing exam this year with the primary reasons being either they already held the licenses and certifications they needed or that licensure / certification was not required for their occupation. However, 8% of survey participants indicated that they planned on taking a professional certification or licensing exam this year.

DB_2021-025 chart 02: Reasons for not taking a professional licensing or certification exam this year (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

Of those participants indicating that they were planning to take a professional licensing or certification exam this year, approximately one-third were recent geoscience graduates who had entered non-academic geoscience occupations. In addition, nearly half (46%) were non-academic geoscientists who had not recently graduated from a geoscience program and 19% were academic faculty.

Among non-academic geoscientists, taking OSHA safety cer­tification courses this year was the most common, whereas taking state professional geology licensure exams were most commonly noted by recent geoscience graduates. Academic faculty most often reported planning to take drone license exams and state professional geology license exams.

DB_2021-025 chart 03: Plans for professional licensing or certification exams this year (Credit: AGI; data from AGI's Geoscience COVID-19 Survey)

When asked if they had faced any challenges with meeting the requirements for any of these exams or certifications, most participants (86%) reported that they did not have any challenges. The 14% percent of respondents that did report challenges specified issues with exam preparation and scheduling.

We will continue to provide current snapshots on the impacts of COVID-19 on the geoscience enterprise throughout the year. For more information, and to participate in the study, please visit:

Funding for this project is provided by the National Science Foundation (Award #2029570). The results and interpretation of the survey are the views of the American Geosciences Institute and not those of the National Science Foundation.