Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota Board of Technical Professions

Frequently Asked Questions

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt
General Questions

Examination Questions

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt

For a project which fits within the exempt limits contained within the statutes, the Board of Technical Professions (BOTP) would have no jurisdiction regarding complaints regarding any individual or business provided they were not, nor claiming to be, someone who would be licensed by BOTP. If an individual or business uses licensee services (licensee of BOTP), and those services are not in compliance with the rules and regulations of the BOTP, there may be cause for the BOTP to file an injunction or issue a cease-and-desist order to stop the construction of the project that fits within the exempt limits contained in the statutes.

For a project which does not fit within the exempt limits contained in the statutes, the BOTP would have no jurisdiction regarding any individual or business provided they were not, nor not claiming to be, someone who would be licensed by BOTP. The BOTP can file an injunction or to issue a cease-and-desist order to stop the construction of a project that is not exempt. In terms of the individuals or businesses providing design services on non-exempt projects, the BOTP role would be limited to informing owner or building official that professional services were required if those services did not encompass practices that require a license.

  • For an unlicensed person individual or business providing services that requires a license, the attorney general or state’s attorney may take action on a class 2 misdemeanor provision in SDCL 36-18A-65.
  • For a person or business not licensed by the BOTP, but who is by another jurisdiction, the BOTP may refer the issue to a jurisdiction in which the individual or licensee is currently licensed.

General Questions

How long do I have to wait to become licensed after I graduate?

View Education and Experience Requirements

I am licensed in South Dakota, and the limited liability corporation I work for is interested in a project there. Does my business firm have to do anything?

Yes. Business entities must also become licensed before practicing or offering to practice on projects located in South Dakota. The business must apply for a Certificate of Authorization (COA). Additionally, the business must have a person(s) who is appropriately licensed in South Dakota, employed by the business and in direct responsible charge of the work.

Must a licensee who works for himself have a Certificate of Authorization? If so, why?

All business entities that practice or offer to practice in South Dakota are required to have a Certificate of Authorization, including sole proprietors and licensees who work for themselves.

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We are a land surveying corporation and have a Certificate of Authorization with your Board. Can we use the business name and number on our pins (caps) in the field?

No. The licensed land surveyor who is in responsible charge of setting the caps must use their name and license number. It is possible the licensed land surveyor responsible for the work may leave the business; however, they will continue to be held accountable for their professional work. Also, the business may be dissolved someday and no longer exist. The number assigned to a business entity is for office use only for identification of practicing businesses and should never be used for boundary caps. Seals with the name and number of the business are not allowed. The licensed land surveyor responsible for the work must sign, seal and date the plats of survey.

For what and when do I use my seal?

All documents, reports, plats, plans, specifications and other technical submissions prepared by you or under your direct personal supervision must include your seal. Your seal may be an embossed stamp, a rubber stamp or a computer-generated seal. Only the cover sheet for a specification book may need to be sealed by all licensees. However, EACH sheet of plans (drawings) must be sealed by the appropriate licensee.

How often are renewals?

Individuals and business entities must renew their licenses every two years to avoid expiration of the license. Renewal notices are emailed approximately one month prior to expiration to the email address on file with the Board.

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Is continuing education required in South Dakota?

Yes. All licensees must have earned a minimum of 30 Professional Development Hours (PDH) for every two-year period after they are initially licensed and prior to each two-year license renewal.

Why should I hire a licensed professional?

Licensed professionals have shown competency in their professional field. They have obtained quality education and qualifying experience. They have demonstrated their knowledge by passing national and state examinations, thereby making them eligible for professional licensure. If it is determined they are incompetent or negligent, they may lose their professional license and their privilege of practicing their profession. Their license and the use of their seal indicate that they accept professional responsibility for the projects and activities they perform. People rely on a licensed medical doctor or registered nurse for their health or on an attorney who has passed the bar exam for their legal needs because they want professionals who have been properly trained and have met a professional standard. Our technical professionals are no different.

When must I use a licensed professional on projects?

The Board encourages using a qualified licensed person. South Dakota law requires design professionals be used on projects which involve the practice of a technical profession as defined in the law. South Dakota law provides for exceptions where individuals, businesses or projects are exempt from the licensed professional requirements. Refer to Exemptions for information on exemptions under South Dakota law.

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I hired a licensed professional to design my new office building and I am having serious problems with the roof. What can I do?

First contact your licensed professional and discuss the problem. It could be a faulty product or application problem, and the licensed professional may be able to help mediate with the supplier or contractor. However, if it is a design problem for which the licensed professional is responsible, you may choose to file a complaint with the Board, claiming incompetence or negligence. Refer to Complaints for further information.

I built a fence using a "mortgage survey" given to me when I bought my house. My neighbor had a "boundary survey" done and a property pin was set 2 feet from the fence. My neighbor says the fence is on his property. Can I file a complaint against the land surveyor who performed my "mortgage survey?"

No. A "mortgage survey" is a mortgage inspection and is not a legal boundary survey. A mortgage inspection is a relatively inexpensive method used by title companies and lending institutions to determine if a property has encroachments at the time of the mortgage closing. If you dispute the location of the property pin set during the neighbor's boundary survey, you may choose to retain a licensed land surveyor to survey the boundary lines of your property to verify the property boundary.

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What is a boundary survey?

A boundary survey will physically locate the monuments placed in the ground at the corners of a property's boundary. The land surveyor can research the property and surrounding area through records and plats on file in the courthouse to find information on the original corner monuments set at the time when the land was originally surveyed. The surveyor must then measure the appropriate distances to confirm where the corners of the property should be, and then verify that a monument is there or set a monument in the ground. A boundary survey it is the only certain way of locating the boundaries of the property.

Must an easement exhibit, to be filed at the county (attached to an easement document) be prepared and sealed by a licensed land surveyor? Would it make a difference if the easement was for a private party or if it were for a public entity/municipality?
Since easement exhibits normally refer to property boundaries as well as the boundaries of the easement itself, the preparation of easement exhibits is included within the practice of land surveying as defined by law. Therefore, it is recommended that a licensed land surveyor be in responsible charge of the preparation of such easement exhibits and that they be signed and sealed by that licensed land surveyor. This would be the case whether the easement is for a private party or a public entity, or if the land is either privately or publicly owned.

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Examination Questions

Where can I get more information?

Please refer to the National Council of Engineering and Surveying. Most questions can be answered there. NCEES is South Dakota's examination administrator. Information about exam dates, exam registration, scoring, ordering study guides or practice exams, and other information can be obtained at the NCEES website.

What type of calculator can I use and what other things can I bring to the exam?

Please refer to the National Council of Engineering and Surveying.

Do I need to apply with the South Dakota Board to take an exam?

Yes. Refer to the Blue Book (covering Administrative Rule of South Dakota (ARSD) 20:38:32) for specific information regarding eligibility requirements for applying for each exam.

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Must I get permission to take the Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) from the South Dakota Board?

Yes. Refer to the Blue Book (covering ARSD 20:38:32:04) for specific information regarding eligibility requirements for applying for the FS exam.

When will I get my score results? And can I get this information over the telephone?

The Board sends exam results out to you as soon as we get them from National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). The Board does not give exam results out over the telephone.

What happens if I pass the FE or FS exam?

Passing the fundamentals exam is the first step toward licensure. You will receive a certificate from the Board with your name and your intern number. This intern certificate never expires. The Board keeps a record of your passing the fundamentals exam and will verify this to other states upon request. States require this verification before you can be approved to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) or Principles and Practice of Surveying (PS) exam.

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What happens if I fail?

The Board will mail a letter to examinees who fail. You may re-take the exam two more times without reapplying to the Board, by registering and paying the exam fee to National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Should you fail the exam three times, you must submit a new application to the Board for approval. If approved by the Board for an additional attempt, you must then register and pay the exam fee to NCEES. The Board may require evidence of additional education and/or experience before approving additional attempts. NCEES provides a diagnostic report to assist in evaluating your performance which you may view online.

Can I review or appeal my exam?

Reviews and appeals are not permitted.

Why does the Board give me a "pass/fail" status on my examination instead of my actual score?

The Board requires examinations to determine candidate proficiency upon entry into the professions. These examinations are not developed to serve as achievement tests. Neither are they designed for job or placement decisions. Instead, these examinations are evaluated, and proficiency cut-scores are derived to reliably ascertain pass/fail scores.

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When are exam application deadlines?

In accordance with Administrative Rule of South Dakota ARSD 20:38:29:03, application deadlines are as follows:

  • Individual or business renewal or reactivation — monthly on the last day of the month;
  • Individual or business licensure — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1;
  • FE or FS examination — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1;
  • PE examination — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1;
  • PS examination — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1;
  • LARE — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1;
  • Petroleum release examination — Jan. 1, March 1, May 1, July 1, Sept. 1, and Nov. 1.

If your application and all completed supporting documents are not received by the deadline, your application will not be reviewed by the Board until the next examination cycle deadline.

When are exam registration deadlines?
Information on exam registration deadlines can be found at

General Resources

Blue Book (Adobe PDF) – Handbook of South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) Chapter 36-18A and Administrative Rule of South Dakota (ARSD) Article 20:38

Does South Dakota recognize the Washington Accord Agreement for foreign degrees?

Applicants who graduated from universities in countries that are Washington Accord signatories are no longer exempted from the evaluation requirements for foreign degrees. The exception is any degree accredited by the Canadian Education Accreditation Board (CEAB). All other foreign degrees are required to be evaluated by National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Credentials Evaluations.

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