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

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program (SWSPCP) is currently considering applications from persons interested in certification as a wetland professional. This announcement provides answers to some of the questions that you may have concerning the certification program.

Why was the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program developed?

The SWSPCP was developed as a separate nonprofit corporate program by the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS), out of a recognized need for minimum standards of wetland science practice. The SWS is a non-profit scientific and educational organization formed to:

    (a) Operate solely and exclusively as a charitable and educational organization to foster conservation and understanding of wetlands.

    (b) Advance public education and enlightenment concerning the world's wetland resources.

    (c) Provide an independent forum for an interchange of ideas and data developed within wetland science.

    (d) Develop and encourage wetland science as a distinct discipline by supporting student education, curriculum development, and research.

    (e) Encourage and evaluate the educational, scientific, and technological development and advancement of all branches of wetland science and practice.

    (f) Encourage the knowledgeable management of wetland resources.

Encouraging and strengthening professional standards in all activities related to wetland science is consistent with these objectives. SWS developed this certification program to meet the needs of professional ecologists, hydrologists, soil scientists, educators, agency professionals, consultants, and others who practice wetland science. This program will also serve the public's need to identify qualified individuals to manage wetland resources.

Why obtain certification? What standing will it have?

Certification is not required by any agency and has no official or legal standing. Certification signifies that your academic and work experience meet the standards expected of a practicing wetland professional and provides acknowledgment to your peers of your adherence to the professional ethics of the Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program. Certification will aid in acceptance by other disciplines, especially in multi-disciplinary work environments.
Public Sector Perspective
Academic Perspective

When should I submit my application?

Specific requirements relating to wetland courses are required for certification as a Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS). In almost every case, however, applicants meeting the minimum education requirements will be able to attain certification as Wetland Professional In Training (WPIT).

How long will the process take to (1) complete my application and (2) receive certification?

The application form requires that you list your relevant academic history in the sciences (supported by transcripts) as well as describe your professional experience and publications in the area of wetland science. The most time-critical step may be obtaining signed and sealed references that must be submitted with the application. Applicants will be notified of the results as soon as possible, but usually within several months.

What are the types of certification awarded?

Wetland Professional in Training (WPIT) is considered a preliminary step for persons who have completed the educational requirements but do not meet experience requirements. Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS) certification is awarded for those meeting both educational and experience requirements.

What will it cost for certification and are there annual fees?

SWS MemberSWS Non-MemberSWS MemberSWS Non-Member
Professional Wetland Scientist (PWS)$300.00 US$400.00 US$100.00 US$140.00 US
Wetland Professional In Training (WPIT)$100.00 US$200.00 US$30.00 US$60.00 US

Additionally, an annual maintenance fee is required to maintain registration. As of January 1, 2015 the annual maintenance fee is $75.

What are the general requirements for certification?

Minimum degree requirements for WPIT and PWS are the BA or BS degrees, with course distribution of 15 semester hours each in biological and physical sciences and 6 hours in quantitative areas. For certification as a PWS, additional experience of 5 years is required that demonstrates the application of current technical knowledge dealing with wetland resources and activities, some of which may be met by advanced degrees in related fields. Specific requirements include an additional 15 semester hours in wetland-related courses.

Beginning January 1 2015, PWS applicants must provide a statement of expertise essay (500-1000 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.

Does this program conflict or overlap with other certification programs?

At the current time, there are no other national or international certification programs for wetland scientists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a draft certification program that is specific to wetland delineation and is intended to reduce the level of effort required by this agency in verifying delineation under section 404 requirements of the United States "Clean Water Act". Although this program was deployed as a pilot program in three Corps districts, it has been put on indefinite hold and is currently not in effect.

Can reference requirements overlap?

Each initial application for WPIT or PWS must provide a minimum of 5 listed references, one of which must be a member of SWS in good standing and two must be PWS's in good standing. Three of the 5 listed references must complete a Form 'C' reference. A reference who is both a member of SWS and a certified PWS is able to satisfy both requirements.

How is credit calculated for professional short courses?

Wetland related short courses taken outside of the university setting are calculated on an 'equivalent semester hour' basis where 15 hours of instruction equals 1 equivalent semester hour of credit. For example, a 36 hour course in wetland delineation methodologies would be worth 2.4 equivalent semester hours of credit. The applicant must clearly document the dates and location of the class, names of the instructors, the number of hours of instruction and provide copies of any certificates issued.

How do I format the required information regarding specialized wetland course work (SWCW)?

Professional short courses should be formatted in the following manner:
Basic Wetland Delineation, August 1-5, 2000, Chicago, IL
36 hours of Instruction, Equivalent semester hours = 2.4
Instructors: Dr. Jane Doe, Mr. John Doe
Acme Wetlands Training Consortium
101 Main Street
Anytown, State, USA 99999

Wetland Courses where academic credit was achieved:
Biol. 515 Wetlands Ecology
All American University
3 Semester Hours

Can I include additional information in the application other than what is specifically required?

Additional pertinent information may be included in either the professional experience section or in section IV. d. 'other Involvements as a Professional Wetland Scientist'. Do not however, provide copies or excerpts of any work products.

What is the difference between certification maintenance fees and certification renewal?

Please see the Certification Renewal vs. Certification Maintenance - A Letter from the President on the main page.

Where do I obtain an application?

Society of Wetland Scientists
Professional Certification Program

2800 W. Higgins Rd. Suite 440
Hoffman Estates, IL 60169
Toll Free: 877.226.9902
Fax: 847.885.8393

Program Manager
Adrianna Borczyk

Note: You can also apply online by clicking here.


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Society of Wetland Scientists Professional Certification Program
Last Updated 10/1/20