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Continuing Education Requirements Framework

All who earn a new certification are required to earn continuing education units (CEU) over the 5-year term of their certification to be able to recertify or upgrade to the next level. All ecologists who were certified prior to 2021 are permitted to recertify or upgrade one time without fulfilling the requirement, but are required to complete the CEU afterward.*

CEU will be self-reported by participants on an annual basis through the ESA account. Participants are required to adhere to the ESA Code of Ethics in all activities related to their profession, including when reporting professional development.

Interpretive leeway will be given to participants to identify suitable professional development opportunities per the requirements. Beginning in spring 2021, ESA will publish and regularly update a roster of approved training providers and other opportunities in the Professional Development Calendar, and participants are encouraged to favor those opportunities, but any suitable scientific or professional content will be approved, including credits earned toward certifications offered in the professional practice and application of related scientific disciplines.


You must achieve 44 CEU across the categories as described below. Minima are the lowest number of CEU in a category that must be reported per review period; maxima are the highest number that will count toward your recertification or upgrade. You can of course complete more as you feel is beneficial to your professional development, but don’t report them toward your total requirement of 44 CEU, and don’t report more than 70 CEU across all categories.

Category Minimum Maximum
Category I: Professional Education and Training 14 24
Category II: Oral Communication 0 14
Category III: Written Communication 0 14
Category IV: Service 0 14
Category V: Human Dimensions 4 4
Total 44 70

In the spirit of continuing education, some activities are capped per event or year with the aim of distributing effort and professional development across multiple activities and multiple years. Ecologists certified by ESA are encouraged to seek development opportunities from a broad array of sources, and at least 50% of all units reported in Category I must be earned through activities provided by organizations other than ESA. This is to encourage broader professional scientific development and support organizations that support our certification program.

The time period in which you are eligible to earn CEU begins the day after your application due date and ends at the due date of your application for recertification or an upgrade. For instance, the application due date in 2021 was February 1; any CEU-eligible activity after that date can be reported and counted toward the requirements. Note that any participation in continuing education following application does not guarantee approval of your application, and cannot be included in your application.

Category I: Professional Education and Training

Category I(a) includes scientific education and training that contributes to your professional development as a practicing ecologist. Training may be virtual or in-person.

At least 14 CEU per reporting period must involve education or training in ecology or closely related subjects. Examples include academic or professional development activity in ecology, environmental science, biogeoscience, evolutionary biology, conservation, botany, mycology, entomology, data management, statistics, etc.

Category I(b) includes professional development in key skills for a professional ecologist. Training may be virtual or in-person.

Up to 10 additional CEU per reporting period may involve education and training in leadership, teamwork, project management, resource management, research management and administration, etc., or in allied fields that support your professional development as an ecologist, such as proposal or grant writing.

Category Minimum Maximum
I(a): Scientific education and training 14 24 (of 24)
I(b): Professional education and training 0 10 (of 24)
Total 14 24

You may report up to 24 CEU for Category I toward your total requirement per reporting period.

Activities CEU
Participation in courses or symposia sponsored or conducted by commercial organizations, professional organizations, government agencies, employers, or postsecondary institutions Up to 4 per course or event, counting 0.25 per hour of attendance/participation
Attendance at oral or poster presentations at annual or semiannual meetings or special conferences of professional societies, educational organizations, etc. Up to 4 per course or event, counting 0.25 per hour of attendance/participation
Attendance at in‑house professional development events or similar Up to 4 per year, counting 0.25 per hour of attendance/participation
Attendance at seminars conducted by experts in the subject matter Up to 4 per year, counting 0.25 per hour of attendance/participation


Category II: Oral Communication

Includes training and practice in the communication of scientific research, data and outcomes via oral presentation. Examples include courses in public speaking or meeting facilitation, or applied instances like oral or live presentations at scientific conferences, teaching a scientific course or providing expert testimony. Includes virtual or in-person presentation. Activities should relate to your professional growth as an ecologist.

You may report up to 14 CEU for oral communication toward your total requirement. There is no required minimum.

Activities CEU
Author/coauthor of an oral or poster presentation at a professional scientific meeting 2 per presentation
Organizer or instructor of a short course, symposium, special session or workshop 4 per event
Instructor of a quarter- or semester-length course up to 10 per course counting 0.25 units per hour of instruction
Participation as a panelist or subject matter expert in a short (e.g., hour-long) event 1 per event
Presenting ecological or professional topics to another technical or non-technical audience (e.g., presenting a report to clients, community groups, invited talk) 2 per event
Testifying as an expert witness before a court or government body 4 per event


Category III: Written Communication

Includes writing, editing, reviewing and publishing on topics in ecology and related sciences. Content can include papers for peer-reviewed journals, professional reports, and scientific communication for non-technical audiences (including scientifically rigorous journalism). Teaching this content to others is included, as is participating in or providing training on best practices in science communication. Activities should relate to your professional growth as an ecologist.

You may report up to 14 CEU for written communication toward your total requirement.

Activities CEU
Author/coauthor of a peer-reviewed journal article 4 per article
Author/coauthor of a book chapter 2 per chapter
Author/coauthor of a book 10 per book
Editor/coeditor of a book 8 per book
Author/coauthor of an ecology-related article for a non-scientific publication such as a magazine, newspaper, etc. 2 per article
Author/coauthor of an article-length other technical report (e.g., client work products, monitoring reports, complex ecological permit applications, expert reports, etc.) 3 per report
Peer reviewer or editor of an article that has been submitted for publication or a grant application that has been submitted to an agency or organization for funding 1 per article or grant application
Reviewer of abstracts for submission to a scientific meeting 1 per review period (e.g., you reviewed several abstracts for the ESA Annual Meeting)
Book reviewer for a professional publication 1 per review


Category IV: Service

Includes service to a professional scientific society, public science programs, environmental advocacy groups and similar organizations. Activities should relate to your professional growth as an ecologist as you apply your skills as a scientist or leader.

You may report up to 14 CEU for service toward your total requirement.

Activities CEU
Holding a governing office (president, board member, committee chair) for a scientific or technical organization, including editors-in-chief or associate editors 8 per year
Serving on a committee or task force in a scientific or technical capacity 4 per year
Leading a public science program (e.g., coordinating a volunteer monitoring program, leading a school workshop on plant identification) Up to 8 per program counting 0.25 units per hour engaged
Participating in a public science program (e.g., a volunteer monitoring program, a school workshop on plant identification) Up to 4 per program counting 0.25 units per hour engaged
Mentoring in a scientific organization or educational program (e.g., mentoring a research student, intern, or young professional, or participating in youth mentorship in STEM), or as part of an institutional program (e.g., at your university) Up to 8 per year counting 0.25 units per hour engaged


Category V: Human Dimensions

This category must be fulfilled in addition to the other minimum 40 units. Ecologists certified by ESA should seek ongoing professional development in such topics as diversity, inclusion and equity; anti-sexual harassment; scientific or professional ethics; and community engagement.

You must report exactly 4 CEU for human dimensions toward your total requirement (if the total of your activities in this category exceeds 4, just report 4).

Activities CEU
Participating in a training in any of the Human Dimensions subjects described above 0.5 per hour of engagement
Teaching or providing written materials for a training in any of the Human Dimensions subjects described above 2 per session

*If, for instance, you hold a certification that was issued in 2018, you may upgrade or recertify in 2023, but will need to earn CEU moving forward. By 2026, all program participants will be required to earn and report their CEU.