To ensure the protection of the environment and the public's health, safety, and welfare--geologists, hydrogeologists, and engineering geologists are required to have a license to practice in Washington State. There are a few exceptions such as working for the federal government or the mining industry.
The Washington State Department of Licensing site contains all the details about licensing, including the RCWs (Revised Codes of Washington that establish the laws) and the WACs (Washington Administrative Codes that summarize the policies).
Students, please note that you do not need to have a license to work in the field as long as you are working for a licensed geologist (or the federal government or mining industry).
But plan on working toward licensure because 32 states require it (including California, Idaho, and Oregon), and most employers will likely encourage you to pursue licensure.
There are two steps to licensure (1) pass the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) Fundamentals of Geology (FG) exam and (2) gain five years of geology experience (three of these years must be under the supervision of a licensed geologist) and then pass the ASBOG Practice of Geology (PG) exam.
Note, however, that your practice experience does not count until you have a degree. An MS degree in geology accounts for two years of practice experience.
I highly recommend that you take the ASBOG FG exam before you graduate or as soon as possible after graduation. The FG exam will test your knowledge of general geology (see the 2015 FG content breakdown). To qualify to take the ASBOG FG exam you must satisfy certain educational requirements. If you obtain a B.S. degree in geology from WWU your educational requirements are met. If you choose the B.A. in geology or a B.S. in geophysics degree plan at WWU, you must meet the minimum educational requirements of 36 credits in upper division of geology that includes 21 credits from the following list.
- Earth Materials (combination of mineralogy and petrology)
- Economic Geology
- Engineering Geology
- Field Camp
- Stuctural Geology
The Washington State Geologist Licensing Board will allow candidates without a degree to sit for the ASBOG FG examination if they meet the educational requirements outlined above.
The FG exam is given twice per year--early March and early October--the applications are due 90 days in advance. I recommend that you take the March exam in your senior year. To do so, the application is due in late December after your fall grades are established satisifying the minimum educational requirements.
ASBOG Fundamentals Exam Application Procedures
WA State Geologist Licensing
Geolicensing Summary (PDF of a Power Point)
Steps to Geolicensing Flowchart
ASBOG Examination Information
2010 ASBOG Fundamentals Exam Content Breakdown
ASBOG Fundamentals Exam Review Guide
ASBOG Exam Secrets Study Guide
ASBOG Exam Flashcard Study System