Tracking Professional Development Hours (PDH’s)

If you are a Professional Engineer like me, then I’m going to bet $1 that you have struggled to some extent with keeping track of your PDH’s. Go ahead, admit it, this is a safe space…..

If you are not a PE yet (maybe you are a college student or recent engineering graduate), you may or may not be aware that, in order to maintain a license in most states, PE’s need to acquire Professional Development Hours (PDH’s). The requirements vary state-by-state – HERE’S A LINK TO A BREAKDOWN.

I am a license holder in 3 states: Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Like all license holders, I keep track of all of my training, continuing education courses, certificates & expiration dates for each state..

How do I keep track of them all? Candidly speaking – Not as well as I’d like.

Over the years, I’ve tried lots of formats. I’ve tried simple spreadsheets. I use OneNote a lot, so I tried a simple table. I tried a table in Evernote. Of course, I’ve used Excel, but the datasheet was not very user-friendly. I Googled the web trying to find something that worked and found nothing useful.

I know, I know – We’re engineers. Math is our jam. We work in spreadsheets. This task shouldn’t be hard, right?

Wrong.

Engineers and Microsoft Excel…

As a Resident Engineer, tracking “things” is, in my opinion, one of the most important attributes an RE has. It’s a skillset that takes time to develop but is critical to your duties. I’ve written several articles on Tracking Open Job Issues and Maintaining a Project Dashboard where I use Excel exclusively for helping me execute these tasks. Spreadsheets & data tracking to a Resident Engineer are like hammers & nails to a carpenter.

In the realm of “Excel Nerds,” I’m probably a 200-level user. I can write macro’s. I’m comfortable with charts &  graphs. I’ve built a ton of toolbox-type sheets, some that I’ve used for decades.

I met Dennis McNulty in 2001 and we’ve been working together ever since. If ever there is or was someone I’d call an “Excel Savant,” it’s Dennis.

Dennis got me started using pivot tables while we were working together on the reconstruction of Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive around the Museum of Science and Industry in the early 2000’s. He is a self-proclaimed “Database Geek,” and in our line of work, where data manipulation is SOP, his talents are enviable.

Back in the day, I started dinking around with Visual Basic (VBA), which is basically the programming language that works in the background of Excel. I have managed to teach myself a few things here-and-there about how to write macros and make User Forms.

I haven’t had to test my skills in a while….until I got an email from the State of Indiana….

Indiana Will Be Auditing Engineering PDH’s

I recently received a mailer from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency noting that the Agency, this year, plans to randomly audit 1% of the license holders to confirm they have achieved the required Continuing Education credit hours.  

So in preparation, and as a little test of my record-keeping abilities, I went back through my certification documents to make sure my Indiana-related PDH information was ready in case I am audited. I managed to gather everything I needed, but, the process didn’t go as smoothly as this anal-retentive civil engineer would have liked it to have gone….

To make matters worse, as (I hope…?) you’ve been reading my recent & numerous TAILGATE TALK posts, I’ve been doing a lot of training lately in a variety of modalities: I’ve been adding lots of new training data, PDH’s & certificates onto my “stack” of records, keeping track of my training hours in a less-than-user-friendly Evernote table….

So, this past week, I reached my breaking point – I can’t deal with NOT HAVING a workable, user-friendly spreadsheet to keep track of my multi-state PDH’s….

Enough is enough. I needed to fix it once and for all. I made it my Course of Action to solve the problem once and for all – And I did.

A PDH Tracking Worksheet Is Born

With my copy of Excel VBA Programming For Dummies in-hand, I took a stab at building a simple, functional data entry worksheet to keep track of PDH’s for the multiple states. And since a lot of my training also qualifies for Plainfield Emergency Management credits, I wanted to be able to house & track that commingled data as well.

So I spent a couple of hours building, what I’m calling, Version 1.0 of a worksheet that I think gets the job done. I thought I’d share it with the readership here at the site.

“Multi-State PDH Tracking Worksheet” Download

It’s a pretty self-explanatory workbook that can be tweaked to the user’s liking:

  1. In the TRAINING tabbed sheet, the “ADD TRAINING COURSE” button allows course data to be entered in one pop-up window:

2. Once the data is entered, hitting the “UPDATE STATE TABLES” populates 4 pivot tables for the various states.

3. In the individual state sheets, you can enter that state’s license renewal period, hit “FILTER RENEWAL DATES” which will present the data for that period – You’re all set.

Go ahead and download it and take it for a spin. It’s an unprotected, Macro-enabled worksheet so you can customize it as you’d like, so don’t be afraid when Excel gives you a pop-up with that…

“Multi-State PDH Tracking Worksheet” Download

One CAUTION – If you decide to change the “Tab Names” to, say, to the states you want, it will mess the filtering function up in that state’s pivot table. It’s an easy fix that you can do yourself if you are familiar with how pivot table filters work. If you want me to help you customize your sheet for your states, hit me with a comment (below) and we’ll get get you up-and-running.

Let me know what you think, positive or negative. If you find glitches, let me know. And if you need some help tweaking it, just reach out, I’m more-than-happy to lend a hand.

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for creating this, and for Dennis’ savantness inspiration. I am going to give this a try. I do have a question though…I have about 7 states to keep up with, and it may become 8 or 9 in the near future. At this writing, I am not PIVOT table savvy…and definitely not a savant…so can I modify to include the additional states, or do I need to confer with you on how to do that? I guess me asking this is conferring…

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