Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota Board of Technical Professions

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Questions from Applicants for the Fundamentals of Engineering and Fundamentals of Surveying Exams

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 has the ability to 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 as long as 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?

Assuming you have graduated with a qualified degree, you must then obtain experience (internship) under a professional licensed in your discipline before you are allowed to take the licensing examination. Refer to the information on this website under "Education and Experience Requirements" for your discipline.

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. Just like individuals who may not practice or offer to practice until licensed, 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.

The Board needs to know who is practicing in South Dakota and by whom they are employed. Sole proprietors and others may have employees working for them. The Board needs to know who is in responsible charge of the professional work.

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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?

Absolutely not! The licensed land surveyor who is in responsible charge of setting the caps must use his/her name and license number. It is possible the licensed land surveyor responsible for the work may leave the business; however, he/she will continue to be held accountable for his/her 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. No seals with the name of the business and number are allowed either. 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?

You must seal all documents, reports, plats, plans, specifications and other technical submissions prepared by you or under your direct personal supervision. 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?

All individuals and business entities must renew their licenses every two years to avoid expiration of the license. Renewal notices are sent 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 you to always use a qualified licensed person who will do the job right and save you time and money on your project. However, 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 also provides for exceptions where individuals, businesses or projects are exempt from the licensed professional requirements. Refer to the Exemptions page 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?

The Board suggests you 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 the Complaints page for further information regarding filing complaints with the Board.

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. The drawing you are referring to as a "mortgage survey" is actually 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 there are any encroachments onto a property at the time of the mortgage closing. Many landowners believe this to be a legal boundary survey. However, a mortgage inspection is not a legal boundary survey and it is unwise to add improvements to a property using this drawing. Doing so may result in a fence, garage, tree or shrubbery being proved to be on your neighbor's property someday. If you dispute the location of the property pin set during the neighbor's boundary survey, you may chose to retain a licensed land surveyor to survey the boundary lines of your property in order to verify the location of your 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 may have to 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 carefully measure the appropriate distances in the field, confirm where the corners of the property should be, and then verify that a monument is already there or set a monument in the ground. This boundary survey process is time consuming and can be expensive, but it is the only reliable way of locating the boundaries of the property. Anything less is only guess work and can perpetuate errors in property boundaries which can impact landowners' title and use of their land.

Does an easement exhibit that will be filed at the county (attached to an easement document) have to be prepared by and sealed by a licensed land surveyor? Would it make any difference if the easement was for a private party or if it were for a public entity/municipality?

Since easement exhibits normally make reference to property boundaries as well as the boundaries of the easement itself, the preparation of easement exhibits is considered to be 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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Frequently Asked Questions from Applicants for the Fundamentals of Engineering and Fundamentals of Surveying Exams

Where can I get more information?

Please refer to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's (NCEES) website. Most of your questions will be answered there. NCEES is South Dakota's examination administrator. Information about scoring, ordering study guides and 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 Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's (NCEES) website. This information will also be provided to you by NCEES after you register for an examination.

Must I get permission to take the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) from the South Dakota Board?

Yes. Refer to the Blue Book (covering Administrative Rule of South Dakota (ARSD) 20:38:32:03) for specific information regarding eligibility requirements for applying for the FE 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 tries to get exam score 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 scores out over the telephone.

What happens if I pass?

Passing the fundamentals exam is the first step toward licensure. You will receive a certificate from the Board with your name and your intern enrollment number. This intern enrollment 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 to examinees who fail the fundamentals exam a diagnostic report which explains the areas they need to study. You may re-take the fundamentals 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 fundamentals exam three times, you must reapply to the Board for approval for any additional attempts to pass the fundamentals exam. 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 such additional attempts.

Can I review or appeal my exam?

No. In the interest of exam security, reviews and appeals are not permitted.

Why does the Board give me a "pass/fail" status on my fundamentals 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 the deadlines to take the exams?

The deadline for applying for the April exam is January 1. The deadline for applying for the October exam is July 1. If your application and all supporting documents are not fully completed and received by the Board by the deadline, your application will be not be reviewed by the Board until the next examination cycle deadline. After your application is approved by the Board, you are allowed three attempts at the fundamentals exam. If you have not passed after three attempts, you will need to submit a new application to the Board. No-shows are not considered an attempt.

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

No. 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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