How to get your license: Geologists

Licensing flowchart

View the How to become a licensed geologist in Washington State flowchart.

Education requirements

To apply for your geologist license you must:

  • Graduate from an accredited college or university with a degree in geological sciences or a related degree approved by the board.
  • and
  • Have 24 semester or 36 quarter hours of upper division geology courses, including 14 semester or 21 quarter credits (unduplicated) from the following list:
    • Earth Materials (combination of mineralogy and petrology)
    • Economic Geology
    • Engineering Geology
    • Field Camp
    • Geomorphology
    • Geophysics
    • Geochemistry
    • Hydrogeology
    • Mineralogy
    • Petrology
    • Sedimentology
    • Stratigraphy
    • Structural Geology
  • or
  • Have successfully completed coursework educationally equivalent to the classes listed above, as determined by the board. You must submit documentation that demonstrates your coursework is equivalent, such as course syllabi, copies of study materials, and the tables of contents of books used in the course

Documentation of education required

Have your college or university send your official, sealed transcripts directly to us at:

Geologist Licensing Board
Department of Licensing
PO Box 9045
Olympia, WA 98507

Experience requirements

To be licensed as a geologist, you must have at least 5 years of documented and verifiable professional geological practice or, if applying for a specialty, 5 years of specialty practice satisfactory to the board, after receipt of a bachelor’s degree. The experience must include:

  • At least 3 years of geological experience under the supervision of state-licensed geologists or specialty geologists or others who, in the opinion of the board, are qualified to have responsible charge.
  • If applying for 2 specialties, at least 5 years of experience in each specialty, for a total of 10 years experience.

What qualifies as professional geological practice?

Professional geological practice is work performed at a professional level that requires the application of professional knowledge, principles, and methods to geological problems through the exercise of individual initiative and judgment in investigating, measuring, interpreting, and reporting on the physical phenomena of the earth. Implicit in this definition is the recognition of professional responsibility and integrity and the acknowledgment of minimal supervision.

Professional geological work specifically doesn’t include:

  • Routine activities where the elements of initiative, scientific judgment, and decision making are lacking, such as:
    • Drafting.
    • Sampling.
    • Sample preparation.
    • Routine laboratory work.
    • Core logging.
  • Activities that don’t use scientific methods to process and interpret geologic data.

Documentation of experience required

Have each of the people who are verifying your experience complete an Employment and Experience Verification form (page 4 of the Geologist and Specialty License Application), and send it directly to us at the address on the form.

Alternative experience credit

  • 1 year of full-time graduate study in geology or a qualified related area counts as 1 year of experience, up to a maximum of 2 years.
  • Geological research or teaching at the university or college level is credited year for year if, in the judgment of the board, it is comparable to experience obtained in the practice of geology or a specialty.

Personal reference requirements

An applicant must be of good moral and ethical character, as attested to by 2 references.

Examination requirements

  • You must pass the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) examination, or a geologist examination acceptable to the board. To apply to take the ASBOG exam, complete the Geologist and Specialty License Exam Registration.
  • If you’re applying for specialty licensing, you must pass the specialty examination. To apply for the Engineering Geologist examination or Hydrogeologist examination, submit a completed Geologist and Specialty License Exam Registration form with the required fee.

Requirements for reciprocity applicants

Applicants requesting licensure through reciprocity must obtain certified proof from the state where they are licensed.

  • The Geologist Licensing Board will recognize your out-of-state geologist and specialty license if your qualifications meet the Washington State requirements listed in WAC 308-15-060.
  • If you’re applying for a specialty geologist license, you must also have passed a specialty geologist exam adopted by, or acceptable to, the board.

Note: The California Board for Geologists and Geophysicists and the Washington State Geologist Licensing Board have agreed to cooperative licensure. That means that hydrogeologist and engineering geologist exams, whether taken in California or Washington, will be accepted by both states.

For candidates with transcripts from schools outside of the United States or Canada

Your transcripts must undergo a course-by-course evaluation by a board-approved evaluation service. A translation of your transcript or a general evaluation is not adequate. An official copy of the evaluation must be sent directly to the board office by the evaluation service. You may choose from the following approved evaluation services:

Related laws, rules, and policies

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