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PG versus RG title for California geologists

RG vs. PG:
(Posted 7-15-04 and reproduced from the July AEG SC Newsletter)

There was a heated discussion on changing the title Registered Geologist (RG) to Professional Geologist (PG), to be amended into Figueroa’s SB 1914. This all started at the December 5, 2003 Board meeting when they unanimously voted to pursue changing “Registered Geologist” to “Professional Geologist” everywhere in the Board’s Statute and Regulations.”

SoCal section AEG position is to keep the RG title. A change to PG would be confusing, as this title is already in use by the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG), founded in 1963 to promote the profession of geology. For the record, AEG was founded in 1957 and the Geology Registration Board in 1969. According to AIPG it “is the only national organization that certifies the competence and ethical conduct of geological scientists in all branches of the science”. This certification is obtained without examination. From my experience, the title CPG was misused by a consultant on a major civil engineering project in California hoping to circumvent registration required by examination. The person was caught, reprimanded and told not to consult on geologic matters in California until the RG examination is passed, which was never done to my knowledge. Further, the turmoil of changing business cards, letterheads, legislative articles etc. is mind-boggling. The Board believes that a 5-year change-over period should handle this quagmire. SoCal section strongly disagrees with this, and the name change.

The upshot from this discussion is to have the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) prepare a memo on the pros and cons of RG vs. PG. The intent is to put the memo on the internet. TAC will assemble opinions from all replying geologists registered in California and have TAC report results to the Board ASAP. The next TAC meeting is July 30, 2004, 21 days after the Board meeting. Some help.

In response to Buzz’s comments, we received the following letter from Robert Larson:

Tania and Matthew,

I wanted to express my displeasure with the Southern California Section's support for retaining the R.G. designation for geologist licensure in California, as reported in the last section newsletter by Mr. Spellman. The reasoning that "A change to PG would be confusing, as this title is already in use by the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG),..." in unsupportable in light of the fact that 29 states use the P.G. designation, in that AIPG's designation is CPG, not PG, in that AIPG has informed its members that they are to use the designation in states that have licensure with the identifier AIPG (e.g. CPG-AIPG). California and Oregon are the only two states that use the RG designation. When presented with this information, the Geology Licensing Board voted to make the change to PG in the revised act that was written a few years ago. It appears that the Board now has institutional memory loss owed to changes in personnel. Unfortunately the revised act was defeated by the Registered Environmental Assessors (REA) through the OEHHA. The real confusion is that REA's are also "registered", are issued a number, and have a stamp, but are not licensed. By retaining the RG designation we equate ourselves with them, and not with Professional Engineers (PE).

I request that you reconsider this position, and that you support the change to using PG.

Robert A. Larson
Member SCS-AEG

Other reasons that Mr. Larson has given in support of the change include:

  • National recognition of our profession. We need one banner, one recognition of what we are. We went to ASBOG as one step in this process. There are currently 29 states and one territory that license geologists in one form or another. From the compilation off of the ASBOG web site, you can see California is not a leader in this matter. We are out of date and synch with our fellow geologists in the rest of the nation. Let us unite!!
  • Unity and parity with the Engineers. We could benefit from the excellent marketing that engineers have derived from the PE designation. They are professionals, we are merely registered. By tying ourselves to their type of designation, we instantly help our marketing efforts and thus our bottom line. Appearances do count!

Comments in favor of keeping the RG designation are similar to those provided by Buzz Spellman in his original write-up and are therefore not reproduced here. What is your opinion?