What are PDH Credits? How do I get them?
PDH stands for "professional development hour" and PDH credits are simply that - an hour spent on developing skills or knowledge for your profession.
PDH credits are currently required in 42 of 50 states for renewal of your P.E. license. In this case, it is easier to list the states where they are not required, which are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington. If you are not seeking license renewal in one of those states, check with your local board since requirements vary widely.
In my opinion, these credits are important for both your ongoing technical competence in the industry and your overall job satisfaction. In my experience, I have found them to be both informational and inspirational - for example, a seminar that can count as a PDH credit can be about a new piece of technology that was implemented to assist in the design or construction of the new world's tallest building. To me, both teach me about a new technique, potentially at my disposal, and inspire me to dream big in my structural engineering career. Even though I live in a state where PDH credits are not required for license renewal (more on that shortly), I am always eager to attend seminars for these reasons.
The only catch to the "simple" PDH definition written above is that to obtain PDH credits for use towards a P.E. license renewal, the PDH hours must be provided by an accepted source based on the state specific requirements. If you're wondering what sources are accepted in your state, the best thing to do is to check with your licensing boards website.
So now that we've covered what they are and why you need them, how can you get them?
The most common way to gain a PDH credit is to attend a seminar. Sometimes it's enough to just attend a seminar, but sometimes there is a quiz you must fill out to gain the credit. There will usually be a sign in sheet passed around with your name, email, and P.E. license number so the presenter or presenting organization can make sure you get the credits.
You can attend seminars hosted by a wide variety of engineers. Some sources I've used in the past include in house seminars at a large engineering firm, a monthly meeting through a local Structural Engineering Association chapter, a webinar through a national organization such as ASCE or ACI and attending a conference. That last one is a good way to get several credits all at once!
I'll close with one final note, which is important if you live in a state where PDH credits are not required but want to maintain licensure in another state. You will have to be vigilant about chasing down these credits! I was licensed in both New York and California for a while after moving from NY to CA, and I noticed that no one ever passed around the sign in sheet or asked if anyone needed to get PDH credits in California. So, I just want to remind you that if you need to log those credits, be active and ask for them!
Hopefully, this cleared up some of your questions on PDH credits!