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Consumer Guide


Someone may say he or she is a geologist; however if a person wishes to engage in the public practice of geology in the State or Oregon, he or she must to be registered (i.e. licensed) by the Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners (OSBGE). The following is how Oregon designates geologists who practice in the state.​
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Geologists in Training

Geologists in Training (GIT) are individuals who have completed the minimum education requirements and passed the first part of the national geology examination where upon they are certified by the Board to work under the supervision of a RG or CEG. A GIT may apply to take the second part of the national geology examination after completing the minimum work experience requirement under the supervision of a RG or CEG. Upon passing this exam a GIT may apply for registration as a Registered Geologist (RG).  GIT registration is voluntary, not mandatory.​​​​
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Registered Geologists

Registered Geologists (RG) are qualified for registration based on:

❑  a college degree in geology or a related field involving a minimum of 45 quarter hours of geology coursework or otherwise presenting evidence of completion of the stated amount of coursework.

❑  a minimum of three years geologic work experience

❑  passing both parts of a rigorous national geology examination

❑  maintaining registration with OSBGE through annual renewals

RG’s can advertise they are a Registered Geologist. RG’s stamp and sign their reports indicating their registration is up to date. The presence of an official RG stamp and signature on reports and other work products indicates the RG stands behind the data and its interpretation in their reports.​

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Certified Engineering Geologists

Certified Engineering Geologists (CEG) are Registered Geologists who are qualified for a specialty registration based on:

❑  the RG registration

❑  work experience in engineering geology

❑  passing an additional examination for Engineering Geologists

❑  maintaining RG and CEG registrations through annual renewals with OSBGE​​​

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Federal Employees and Professors

What about Federal employees and Professors?

Geoscientists who are employed as federal agency employees are exempt from OSBGE registration for work done on behalf of the U.S. government. Likewise, so are professors in academic institutions. However, if they are retained as consultants in geology or engineering geology outside their academic work, and are completing work for the public they must be licensed. Also, a person does not need to be registered to testify or prepare to testify in a public proceeding such as a land use hearing.​​​

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What should I expect of a geologist?

Registration.  Persons engaging in the public practice or geology in Oregon are required to be registered by the Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners. Registered geologists will usually state their registration in their advertising and for sure it will be stated on the reports they produce.  A list of registered geologists is on the OSBGE web site

Professional memberships, etc.  You may want to inquire about professional memberships and attendance at professional meetings. These are indicators the person is active in the profession and are up-to-date in their practices. Other licenses or certificates held usually indicate specialized competencies.

Familiarity with the area.  You may want to inquire if the geologist is familiar with your locale.  Geological conditions vary widely within the state; therefore a geologist’s familiarity with the geology of an area is worth considering.

Has done similar work. You may want to inquire if the geologist has done similar work. A list of projects worked on might be helpful.

References. You may wish to ask for references. Some aspects you may want to inquire about from references are adherence to agreed upon schedules and the quality of their reports, e. g. purpose and scope of the  work done, statement of methodology, documentation, and stated limitations of report.

​Contract. Having a contract is a good business practice. A contract is especially useful if it specifies the terms and scope of work expected along with the time frame. If a retainer is involved, a contract can state its purpose and whether it will be applied to the bill or charged separately.​​

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Geology Reports

What should I expect of a geologist’s work?

Verbal or written report?  Although a verbal report may be more inexpensive, in the long run, it may be costly.  With a verbal report if there is any problem with the site, there is no record. It will come down to the geologist’s word against your word.  A written record documents conditions as of specific date and thus if in the future there are any changes in conditions there is a record of previous conditions. Furthermore a report can be consulted years hence when it may not be possible to contact the individuals originally involved in a project.

Report should meet standards  A written report should meet generally recognized standards for a geologic report; in particular the report should state the  purpose and scope of the work done, discuss methodology, present documentation, present interpretations, make recommendations, and state limitations of the report.​​
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What do Registered Geologists do?

Registered Geologists locate, describe and evaluate geologic resources and features on the earth’s surface as well as those below the surface; advise on the extraction of these natural resources; locate, map and interpret data on geological hazards and advise on remedies.

Some kinds of projects an RG may be involved in are:

  • characterize and evaluate sites for petroleum and chemical contamination
  • evaluate groundwater resources and how new developments of groundwater will impact other human and ecological uses
  • understand flowing water systems and participate in stream restoration projects
  • determine the placement of water wells, evaluate the water quality and capacity of wells
  • assess direction and movement of groundwater flow and recharge from storm water
  • map and interpret geologic hazards for land-use planning
  • map faults; trench fault alignments; and evaluate seismic hazards
  • map and investigate gravel, sand, and mineral deposits; assess their economic value; and evaluate their potential for development
  • assess coastal hazards and advise on the potential for coastal erosion
  • evaluate slope stability and landslide potential when not involving buildings, roads, dams, retaining walls, etc.
  • make recommendations on the management and disposal of contaminated soil especially during construction projects.​​
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What do Certified Engineering Geologists do?

Certified Engineering Geologists cover the same areas of expertise as Registered Geologists, in addition they apply geologic knowledge as it might affect design, construction and maintenance of civil engineering work, i.e. structures, roads, dams, retaining walls, etc.  

Some kinds of projects a CEG may be involved in are:

  • work with geotechnical engineers to determine  strength and characteristics of soil and rock for foundations
  • assess the stability of cut slopes, excavations, and earthwork surrounding structures
  • map terrain, identify landslides, and work with geotechnical engineers to develop approaches to safeguard adjoining structures and roads
  • determine appropriate grading to control and manage surface drainage for site development
  • participate in designing subsurface drainage for structures and below ground utilities
  • evaluate suitability of routing road alignments and construction
  • participate in the siting and construction of landfills, bridges, dams, and levees
  • work with geotechnical engineers to design deep building foundations, retaining walls, and waterfront structures.​​
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What do Geologists in Training do?

Geologists in Training  perform geologic work under the supervision of a RG or CEG. The supervising RG or CEG takes responsibility for certifying the work.​​​
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Overlap Betwen Professions

Geologists are often part of a team consisting of engineers, soil scientists, and other professionals.  All professionals engaged for a project are expected to act within the limits of their license, education and experience.  Furthermore, contributions by geologists to the reports by these other professionals should identify the geologist’s contribution in the report.​​
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Locating a Geologist

How can I locate a geologist to hire?

Here are a few ideas:

  • First, inquire of the firm you are working with if they have a registered geologist on the staff.  Many small firms have a list of registered geologists they usually contact when they need geologic work done for a client. However before hiring another geologist it is best to discuss with the firm you are working with.
  • Second, on OSBGE’s web page there is a list of registered geologistsAt the present time this listing includes registrant names, registration numbers, addresses and initial registration dates. The list is updated approximately once a month.
  • Third, use the telephone yellow pages (both paper and electronic) to find a geologist.  It is not unusual for geologists to undertake work many miles from their home base and thus have work experience in many different parts of the state.  Using the yellow pages from several locales may be useful.

Recommendations. The Board DOES NOT make recommendations about hiring particular geologists. Nor does the Board gather information about other licenses, certificates, or academic work a geologist may have completed.  Board staff can only verify that an individual indeed has an active registration and can also check if there is any disciplinary history for the individual. ​​

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OSBGE investigates all formal complaints. Formal complaints involve allegations of violations of Oregon law​s or Oregon Administrative Rules pertaining to the public practice of geology in Oregon. Formal complaints are those submitted in writting and signed by the complainant. The Board can also initiate a complaint. 

The Code of Professional Conduct (Oregon Rule 809-020-001) may be of special interest.

Disciplining.  Upon investigation by OSBGE of a formal complaint, OSBGE may take disciplinary action as warranted, and such actions can range from a letter of reprimand to revoking registration.​ ​​

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Oregon State Board of Geologists Examiners

What does the Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners do?

The purpose of Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners is to safeguard the health and welfare and property of the people of Oregon. To do so OSBGE:

            1. Licenses professionals engaged in the public practice of geology.

            2. Responds to complaints from the public and profession

            3. Educates the public

            4. Communicates with regulatory agencies

            5. Cooperates with related boards and commissions

            6. Promotes professional ethics

            7. Provides systematic outreach to counties, cities and registrants.

For further information, see OSBGE’s website. Also feel free to contact the OSBGE’s Administrator​. ​

What doesn’t the Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners do?

OSBGE does not arbitrate disputes about billing or the appropriateness of fees charged for geologic work unless negligence, incompetence, or fraud is indicated.

OSBGE does not register any other professions.

OSBGE’s office does not provide information about Oregon geology. Suggestions for finding such information are: contacting the Oregon Department of Geology andMineral Industries; contacting your local college or university library; checking with your local public library or consulting the titles on this short list of books about Oregon geology. 

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Registered Geologists from Other States

In general the State of Oregon does not automatically recognize the licenses given to individuals by other states to practice geology. But by meeting certain conditions a geologist with an out-of-state registration can apply for a “reciprocity” registration in Oregon. Once granted, he/she would be listed among the Oregon registrants.

There is provision to issue a temporary registration for out-of-state geologists to do work in Oregon without an Oregon registration. However such permits have strict limitations.  For further information on either Oregon “reciprocity” registrations or temporary permits, please contact OSBGE’s administrator. ​​

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Disclaimer.  This page is offered as a service to consumers.  The information here is not to be construed as official Board policy, nor does it supersede Oregon statues and rules pertaining to the public practice of geology.  For further information please contact the OSBGE’s administrator​.
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