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Competency-Based Assessment for Geoscience

APEGS Council is proposing that experience assessment for geoscience be upgraded to Competency-Based Assessment (CBA).

This presentation gives you an overview of APEGS plan to implement CBA for geoscience, as well as a an introduction to the competency framework for geoscience.


Prior to being granted a licence, a geoscience applicant must demonstrate their ability to practise geoscience. The onus is on the applicant to provide evidence that they possess, through experience, a satisfactory capability to practice geoscience at a professional level. Many of Canada’s geoscience regulators are moving toward competency-based assessment of geoscience experience. To this end, a pan-Canadian competency-based assessment project was undertaken with participation from geoscience regulators in several provinces. In the current phase of this project, the online competency assessment system developed in the pilot phase by Engineers & Geoscientists of British Columbia (BC) is being considered for adoption by other regulators in Canada.


At the September 2020 Annual Meeting, the APEGS membership will vote to adopt this new experience assessment system, effective January 1, 2021. It would apply to professional geoscientist applicants to APEGS (i.e. geoscientists-in-training) as well as geoscientist-in-training international graduate applicants given the experience review option to waive confirmatory exams. All requirements remain the same, including four years of experience, at least one year of experience in a Canadian or equivalent-to-Canadian environment, and the possibility to count up to one year of pre-grad experience for eligible applicants, as well as the others that are currently in place.

Benefits of Competency-Based Assessment

Competencies are observable and measurable skills, knowledge, abilities, motivations or traits required for professional registration that are demonstrated through the actions and behaviours of the applicant. The competency-based assessment system:

  • permits a more quantitative assessment of applicants using a more precise measuring system than the current APEGS experience review guidelines.
  • is a more explicitly described and defined measurement tool to assess readiness for licensure.
  • makes the assessment more objective, transparent and consistent and increases the confidence of all who participate in the process including applicants, validators, employers and assessors on the Experience Review Committee.

What constitutes acceptable geoscience experience is not changing, we are better describing it.  

CBA makes experience reporting easier and more transparent.

It is easier to gauge if your experience qualifies for professional registration and therefore increases your confidence when writing your submission.

    • We have better described what constitutes acceptable geoscience work experience, there has been no change in the requirements.

It is more quantitative and objective.

    • There is an explicitly described rating scale from 0 to 5 that Applicants, Validators and Assessors use.

It is online.

    • No more paper and obtaining signatures.
    • The online system facilitates all information entry, sharing and notifications.
    • No more coordination is needed by the applicant through email and mail to validators and APEGS.
    • All entries are available for download by the applicant as a pdf at any time.

Description of the Competency-Based Assessment Framework

The competency assessment framework is made up of the Assessment Rubric, the Geoscience Competencies and Workplace Examples. These documents are provided in the Related Attachments section below.

There are four competency categories, which are groupings of a total of 29 competencies or skills: 1) Professional Competencies [7 competencies] 2) Competencies in Scientific Method [5 competencies] 3) Competencies in Geoscience Practice [7 competencies] 4) Complimentary Competencies - Communication and management [10 competencies]. The four categories represent the areas in which all professional geoscientists must be competent to ensure effective practice and public safety. Each Competency Category contains a list of Work Experience Competencies required in that area and related Workplace Examples (indicators) of the type of work that could qualify. Achievement of each category is measured through a Level of Competence scale that outlines six different levels of competence (0-5). A successful candidate must meet each of the competencies in each category at a minimum level of 1 on the Level of Competence scale, while achieving the required minimum Category average score ‘entry to practice’ rating level of 3.

Online Submission

The CBA experience submission is done through the online portal at https://competencyassessment.ca. The final touches in the online system are currently underway. It will work in a similar fashion to the existing engineering online CBA system.

The use of an online competency assessment process enables applicants to easily report and their validators to validate their geoscience experience from anywhere in the world (keeping in mind that a minimum of one year of Canadian or equivalent-to-Canadian experience is still required in order to become a professional geoscientist). Applicants, validators and assessors are provided with a personal login. Once an applicant has completed their competency entries, the applicable validators are notified when the applicant indicates in the online system that the competencies that pertain to them are ready to validate.

Transition from the Current Experience Reporting System

You may continue in the current experience reporting system if you wish, if you are a current geoscientist-in-training who has submitted one or more complete experience reports in the outgoing paper-based system before January 1, 2021. However, you are encouraged and invited to switch to the CBA system. You are required to use the new CBA system if any one of the following situations applies:
• you are a current geoscientist-in-training from whom APEGS has not received one or more experience reports before January 1, 2021;
• you are a geoscientist-in-training applicant who is an international graduate that has been given the experience review option to waive confirmatory exams and APEGS has not received their completed experience submission (consisting of five years of reports) by January 1, 2021;
• you applied to APEGS as an geoscientist-in-training on or after January 1, 2021.

Orientation Presentations

Should geoscience CBA be adopted, in the fall/winter of 2020 there will be orientation presentations scheduled to inform applicants and validators. The dates will be posted to the APEGS Events Calendar. All geoscientists-in-training and geoscientist-in-training applicants will also be notified by email when registration is open for scheduled presentations. Be sure you have a current email address with APEGS by checking APEGS Central (your online profile).  

Feedback Requested 

Your feedback and questions are requested. You may do so by attending one of the presentations or by contacting Kate MacLachlan, P.Geo., Director of Academic Review at katem@apegs.ca or Tina Maki, P.Eng., Director of Special Projects at tmaki@apegs.ca.


Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan
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