Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Society of Wetland Scientists
Professional Certification Program

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Requirements

Certification as Wetland Professional In Training (WPIT) is considered a preliminary step for persons who have completed the basic educational requirements but do not meet the experience and/or the specialized wetland course work (SWCW) requirements. Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) certification is awarded to those meeting both educational and experience requirements. Refer to the application forms for detailed information on the certification process.

COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY EDUCATION:

All applicants must submit information documenting completion of the educational requirements leading to a college or university degree of Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, or equivalent or higher degree, and should have the following, or equivalent, course work:

1) Biological Sciences: Fifteen (15) semester hours in biological sciences including courses such as general biology, botany or zoology; general ecology; plant, animal, aquatic or wetlands ecology; invertebrate zoology; taxonomy; marine science; fisheries biology; plant physiology, plant taxonomy, plant pathology, plant morphology; relevant environmental sciences; and similar courses.

2) Physical Sciences: Fifteen (15) semester hours in courses in soils, chemistry, hydrology, physics, geology, sedimentology, oceanography, coastal processes, environmental engineering, and similar courses.

3) Quantitative Sciences: Six (6) semester hours in courses in math, computer sciences, basic statistics, population dynamics, experimental statistics, and similar courses.

4) Additional Educational Requirements for PWS Certification: As of June 1, 1999, fifteen (15) semester hours (or equivalent in short courses or continuing education courses) of specialized wetland course work (SWCW). Examples of recommended courses, continuing education, and/or training needed to attain additional competency include, but are not limited to, the following:

Wetland Plant Taxonomy ; Advanced Plant Taxonomy; Wetland Hydrology; General Hydrology; Soil Morphology, Classification, and Mapping; Hydric Soil Identification; Wetland Restoration and Creation; Wetland delineation/Evaluation/Classification; Applied Wetland Ecology and Management; Wetland Creation/Mitigation; Wetland Ecology. Attendance at professional meetings of symposia will not qualify to meet this requirement.

Applicants seeking credit for specialized wetland courses taken outside of the university setting where no official college credit was generated must provide the following information to assist the SWSPCP in assessing the applicability or the course in meeting the minimum hour requirement for Specialized Wetland Courses:

  • Name, date, location and sponsor of the course
  • The number of classroom and/or field hours completed

The SWSPCP recognizes that Professional Wetland Scientists will have an extremely broad range of technical specialties. Curricula can be individually tailored, particularly at the advanced degree level or as part of a professional development program of continuing education and training, to prepare for any of these specialties. For example, there is currently high interest in and need for qualified professionals to consistently and accurately identify and delineate wetlands and wetland boundaries; evaluate types, nature, and function of wetlands; and/or propose plans for wetland restoration, creation, and/or mitigation.

QUALIFYING EXPERIENCE:

In addition to the minimum collegiate courses required, a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) must meet specific experience and wetlands-related education as outlined below: Professional experience begins following conferral of the FIRST degree at a baccalaureate or higher level. Certification as a PWS requires a minimum of five (5) years of full-time professional experience. Relevant experience must be gained within ten (10) years prior to applying for the PWS. Experience must demonstrate the application of current technical knowledge to problems and programs dealing with wetland resources and activities. Relevant experience may be gained while working in the private (e.g., consulting, industry, non-profit), public (e.g., local, state, federal government), and/or academic sectors.

Identification of the professional level of experience will require careful evaluation of each application. Experience is calculated based upon applicant's description and documentation of percentage of time applied to relevant wetlands work.. Therefore, it is the applicant's responsibility to fully document for each experience the percentage of time devoted specifically to professional wetland activities, providing month/year dates for each period(s) of experience. Full-time work experience is defined as a minimum 75% of daily/weekly/monthly duties devoted specifically to wetland science. Work experience below the 75% threshold will be credited on a pro-rated basis. NOTE: The terms "research' and 'project(s)' are generic.

Examples of qualifying experience include:

  1. Engaging in research that includes field or laboratory observations, analysis of data, and preparation of a publication for recognized journals and/or published reports to private/public clients,
  2. Directing a research project with supervisory responsibility over several technicians,
  3. Serving as a leader or assistant leader on wetland-related projects requiring independent judgment and action,
  4. Teaching a college course or equivalent in wetlands science,
  5. Working as a wetland specialist, scientist, or manager in the public (local, state, or federal agency) or private (industry, consultant, developer) sector,
  6. Directing a state-wide or district-wide wetlands program, conducting wetland restoration projects, wetland program planning, or conducting wetland delineation or evaluation.

Examples of non-qualifying experience include:

  1. Teaching below the college level,
  2. Carrying out routine responsibilities such as data collections without statistical analysis, professional writing of someone else's work, making routine plant identifications, conducting bioassay or other analytical laboratory determinations,
  3. Providing input to or review of environmental impact statements - unless as a wetland specialist,
  4. Working as an undergraduate or graduate research or teaching assistant,
  5. Involvement in wetland studies as an administrative function without application of principles and concepts of wetland sciences.

Time spent obtaining advanced academic degrees may apply toward professional experience subject to the following guidelines.

  1. Experience credit normally will be given only upon completion of curriculum and research judged by the panel as relevant to the wetland profession.
  2. Up to two (2) years of credit will be allotted for a Master's degree, up to three (3) years of credit for a Ph.D., and up to four (4) years of credit for a Master's and a Ph.D. Credit allowed will be on a case-by-case basis based on relevance to the wetland sciences. The applicant should outline the wetlands relevance of the work leading to the degree(s) to ensure experiential credit is given.
  3. When time intervals for education and employment overlap, a detailed explanation must be provided of the relevant portions of each. Experience must be gained within the ten (10) years prior to the date the application is signed.

STATEMENT OF EXPERTISE ESSAY

Beginning January 1 2012, PWS applicants must provide a statement of expertise essay (250-500 words) that best describes his or her area(s) of expertise in wetland science. Choose no more than three "expertise areas" from the "General Knowledge Areas" below that best depict your area(s) of expertise in wetland science, and target your statement to focus on those areas. Please relate these area(s) of expertise to your academic training, specialized wetland course work, wetland-related work experience, and wetland science. Essays will be evaluated by the Review Panel based on a maximum of 20 points, with 14 or more points constituting a passing score.

DOCUMENTATION OF EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE

Each application for Professional Wetland Scientist Certification must include the following:

A curriculum vita or resume documenting name, address, college/university degree(s), a list of relevant college/university courses, and documentation of full-time experience in wetland science.

A list of citations for wetland-related publications, technical reports, oral presentations, and other professional activities.

Names, addresses and phone numbers of five (5) references must accompany application for certification. One of the five references must be members of the Society of Wetland Scientists. One reference must be an employer, supervisor or client. Two references must be from Professional Wetland Scientists. At least one PWS reference must complete Form C. For PWS, two of your references must be from professionals employed outside your own organization. Do not list personnel that you supervise. Indicate the category of each reference.

Copies of all academic transcripts for all degrees conferred or courses taken (photocopies are acceptable).

Applicant must also certify the accuracy of application documents and certify that they agree with the SWSPCP Code of Ethics.

APPLICATION FEES

SCHEDULE OF FEES: Member Non-Member
Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) $300 US $400 US
Wetland Professional In Training (WPIT) $100 US $200 US

Where do I obtain an application?

You can apply online or download the forms from this website by clicking here.

Or you can contact:
Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
The Center for Association Resources
2800 W. Higgins Rd. Suite 440
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Phone:
Toll Free: 877.226.9902
Fax: 847.885.8393

Program Administrator
Jocelyn Cordero
Email

UPGRADING FROM WPIT CERTIFICATION TO PWS CERTIFICATION

For an individual certified as a Wetland Professional in Training to apply for certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist, it is not necessary to complete the full application. The individual should document course work and other training and experience since the last application that will fulfill completely the requirements for PWS certification. Professional accomplishments and publications should be highlighted. The name and address of at least one new reference, preferably an individual certified as a PWS, should be included with the application, along with a check or money order for the difference between the WPIT and PWS application fees ($200 US). If the upgrade application is more than two years from the date a WPIT was awarded, three new form Cs must be completed to reflect a current assessment of the applicant's professional work experience. The SWSPCP Business Office will attach a copy of the original application to the new material for submission to the Certification Panel. Review and approval of the upgrade application will then proceed in the same way as an original application.

MAINTAINING YOUR CERTIFICATION

Once you are granted the PWS or WPIT certification, you are required to maintain it by paying an annual maintenance fee. As of January 1, 2009 the maintenance fee is $50. This fee is not related to your SWS membership, if applicable. PWS and WPITs are not required to pay the annual maintenance fee in the year in which they are certified. The annual maintenance fee is not waived for WPITs in the year in which they upgrade to PWS. Additionally, in order to help maintain the high standards of the program, as a PWS, you are required to renew your certification every five years. A PWS shall earn a minimum of 10 certification renewal points during a five-year period from the time of certification. Renewal points are earned in various ways, including employment, conference attendance, presentations and oral papers, and wetland instruction.

 

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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 12/16/14