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Individuals may say they are geologists, however, persons wishing to engage in the public practice of geology in the State or Oregon must be registered (i.e. licensed) by the Oregon State Board of Geologist Examiners (OSBGE). This online resource guide explains how Oregon designates geologists who are registered to practice geology in the state.
The practice of geology is very diverse and can be subdivided into numerous disciplines, with each discipline having further sub-disciplines of its own. However, when considering the realm of public practice, geology can be more broadly divided into specialties. Examples include environmental geology, hydrology/hydrogeology, engineering geology, geophysics, paleontology, and economic geology.
Geologist-in-Training (GIT): GITs are individuals who have completed the minimum education requirements and passed the first part (Fundamentals of Geology) of the national geology exam where upon they can apply to OSBGE for this registration. GIT registration is voluntary, not mandatory. GITs are certified by OSBGE as advancing towards full registration but cannot independently sign or stamp a geologist report or take responsibility for geologic work. A GIT may apply to take the second part (Practice of Geology) of the national geology exam after gaining 7 years of qualifying work experience from education and work experience. Upon passing this second part of the national geology exam, a GIT may apply for registration as a Registered Geologist (RG).
Registered Geologist (RG): RGs are qualified for registration based on:
Individuals that have earned the RG can advertise they are "Registered Geologists". RG’s stamp, sign, and date 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.
Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG): CEGs are RGs who qualified for and hold a specialty registration. Currently Oregon has only this one licensed geologic speciality.
Engineering geology is a science devoted to the investigation, study, and solution of engineering and environmental problems. It is also devoted to the evaluation of remediation of geologic hazards. As defined by ORS 672.505, and "Engineering Geologist" is a person who applies geologic data, principles, and interpretation to naturally occurring materials so that geologic factors affecting planning, design, construction, and maintenance of civil engineering works are properly recognized and utlized.
CEGs are qualified for the specialty registration based on:
Geologic work must
be done by a person appropriately registered (licensed) with OSBGE unless the
individual falls under a statutory exemption or other statutory limitation
related to registration. For example, geologists employed by federal agencies
are exempt from OSBGE registration for work done on behalf of the U.S.
government. Likewise, professors in academic institutions are exempt for
teaching and academic research, as well as for supervising students acting
under their direction. Individuals
retained as consultants in geology or engineering geology outside their federal
employment or academic work and who are completing work for the public must be
registered with OSBGE.
A subordinate to a
RG or CEG does not need to be registered (licensed) insofar as the subordinate
acts solely in such capacity. This exemption, however, does not permit any such
subordinate to independently practice geology for others.
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.
Other licensed professionals, such as Professional
Engineers or Architects, do not have specific exemptions from the geology
laws. However, ORS 672.545(3) does
specify that the geology laws shall not be construed to prevent or to affect
the practice of any licensed profession or trade by limiting its appropriate
and current custom or practice including the practice of any profession or
trade for which a license or registration is required under any other law of
this state. Therefore, an individual is
not required to hold two different professional licenses to conduct work that
falls within an area of professional practice overlap.
What should I expect of a geologist?
Registration. Persons engaging in the public
practice or geology in Oregon are required to be registered (licensed) by
OSBGE. RGs will usually state their registration in their advertising and will
stamp and sign the reports they produce for sites or projects in Oregon. Anyone can check on an individual's
registration using the license search feature on the OSBGE website.
Professional memberships. Before hiring an RG or CEG, you may
want to inquire about professional memberships and attendance at professional
meetings. These are indicators the person is active in the profession and is
likely up-to-date in practices. You may also want to inquire about the
continuing education that the geologist has completed. 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 local area. Geological conditions vary widely
within the state; therefore a geologist’s familiarity with the geology of an
area is worth considering in your engagement decision.
Has done similar work. You may want to inquire if the
geologist has done similar work. A list of completed projects 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, adherence to report
standards and regulatory requirements, and stated limitations of the report.
Contract. Having a contract is a good business practice and
should be considered essential when engaging a geologist. 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.
What should I expect of a geologist’s
Verbal or written
report? Although a verbal report may seem like the less expensive option, in
the long run, it may be more costly. Also, many geologists will not provide a
verbal report without a written report to accompany it. With a verbal report,
if there is any problem with the site or project, there is no written record of
the work completed. A written record
documents conditions as of a 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 individual(s) 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, provide interpretations, make
conclusions and may give recommendations.
The report would be based on the work completed but may also provide
recommendations for additional work. The report should also state limitations
of the investigation and the report.
OSBGE has developed several guideline documents to
assist geologists in preparing these reports.
These include the Geologic Report Guideline, the Guideline for Preparing
Engineering Geologic Reports, and the Hydrogeologic Report Guideline. In addition, stamping guidelines are provided
for common environmental reports such as environmental site assessments that
may or may not include the public practice of geology. These guidelines can be
found on the OSBGE website. Not all
content presented in these guidelines is necessary for all projects. The scope of work should be discussed with
the geologist prior to engagement.
RGs locate, describe and evaluate geologic resources and features on the earth’s surface as well as those below the surface. RGs 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:
CEGs can cover the same
areas of expertise as RGs, but in addition, they can conduct investigations to
provide geologic and geotechnical analysis, design and recommendations for
civil engineering projects. The terms
“geotechnics” and “geotechnical” refer to applied scientific work involving
soil and rock mechanics, geology, geophysics, hydrology, and related sciences
as applied to the solution of civil works.
A few examples of geotechnics work are the prediction, prevention, or
mitigation of natural hazards such as landslides and rockslides, and the
application of soil, rock, and groundwater mechanics to the design of earthen
or other man-made structures.
Some kinds of projects a CEG may be involved in are:
GITs perform geologic work under the supervision of an RG or CEG. The supervising RG or CEG takes responsibility for certifying the work.
The practice of
some other licensed professions involves professional overlap with the practice
of geology and engineering geology. The
fields of engineering geology and geotechnical engineering, in particular, are
similar and share areas of overlap. Professionals in both fields practice
geotechnics, and both commonly complete or contribute to geotechnical
investigations and reports. However, the public practice of geotechnics by
engineers in Oregon is regulated by the Oregon State Board of Examiners for
Engineering and Land Surveying (OSBEELS), and the public practice of
geotechnics by engineering geologists is regulated by the OSBGE.
Geologists can work independently or can choose to
work as part of a team consisting of other professionals. All professionals
engaged for a project are expected to act within the limits of their licenses,
education, and experience. Furthermore, contributions to the reports by these
other professionals should identify the geologist’s specific contribution in
How can I locate a geologist to hire?
Here are a few ideas:
Recommendations. OSBGE DOES NOT make recommendations about hiring particular geologists. Nor does OSBGE 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.
OSBGE investigates all formal complaints involving allegations of violations of Oregon laws or Oregon Administrative Rules pertaining to the public practice of geology in Oregon. Formal complaints are those submitted in writing and signed by the complainant. OSBGE can also initiate a complaint based on information brought to it's attention. OSBGE does not guarantee investigation of anonymous complaints. See the File a Complaint section of the OSBGE website for more information.
For additional information, the Code of Professional Conduct (Oregon Rule 809-020-001) may be of special interest.
Board Action. Upon investigation by OSBGE of a formal complaint, OSBGE may take disciplinary action against a Board registrant as warranted, and such actions can range from a letter of reprimand to revoking registration. OSBGE can also impose civil penalties on registrants or unlicensed individuals for violations of laws and rules for geology practice in Oregon. However, not all investigations result in disciplinary action or civil penalties.
What does OSBGE do?
The statutory mission of OSBGE is to safeguard the health, safety, welfare and property of the people of Oregon through regulation of geology practice. To carry out its statutory mission, OSBGE:
OSBGE works to achieve
this mission through: (1) ensuring only individuals fully qualified by
education, experience, and examination are granted the privilege by
registration to practice geology in Oregon publicly, (2) regular review of
relevant laws and rules; (3) impartial enforcement of regulatory laws and
rules; and (4) providing and effectively communicating information regarding
the Board’s goals and activities to registrants and the public.
For further information, see OSBGE’s website. Also feel free to contact the OSBGE office.
What doesn’t OSBGE do?
OSBGE does not recommend particular RGs or CEGs for work.
OSBGE does not arbitrate disputes about billing or the appropriateness of fees charged for geologic work unless negligence, incompetence, or fraud by a RG or CEG 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 and Mineral 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 included in this online Consumers Guide.
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 “comity” registration in Oregon. Once
granted, the individual would be listed among the Oregon registrants. There is provision to issue a temporary
permit 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 “comity” registrations or temporary permits,
please contact the Board office.
Guide is offered as a service to consumers. The information here is not to be
construed as official OSBGE policy, nor does it supersede Oregon statutes and
rules pertaining to the public practice of geology. This Consumer Guide is
meant to be an informal summary of some of the policies, procedures, laws, and
rules regarding the public practice of geology in Oregon. For further
information, please contact the Board office.
Miller, Marli, Roadside Geology of Oregon. Missoula,
Mountain Press, 2014. 2nd edition.
Morris. Hiking Oregon’s Geology.
Seattle, Mountaineers, 2004. 2nd edition.
Bishop, Ellen Morris. In Search of Ancient Oregon. Portland, Timber, 2006.
L. and William N. Orr. Oregon Geology.
Corvallis, Oregon State University Press, 2012. 6th edition.
L. and William N. Orr. Oregon Fossils,
Corvallis, Oregon State University Press, 2009. 2nd edition.
NOTE: In addition to these general
surveys of Oregon geology, there are books available which cover the geology of
specific areas of the state, e.g. the Columbia Gorge, Cascades, etc. Check with your local library for more
This online Consumer Guide
is intended to provide a high-level overview of the regulated (i.e., registered
a.k.a. licensed) practice of geology in the State of Oregon for those who may
use geologic services. This guide is not
exhaustive and presents generalized information. Additional information can be found in the
Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) 672.505 through 672.991, the Oregon
Administrative Rules (OAR) 809-001-0000 through 809-060-0003, and the Oregon
State Board of Geologist Examiners (OSBGE) “Professional Practices Guidance” Document. In addition, OSBGE has published a number
of other documents and newsletters that discuss the public practice of geology
in Oregon. These documents are found on
the OSBGE webpage.
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