Completing required continuing education credits online allows contractors to proceed through courses at their own pace, on their own time.

The International School of Well Drilling offers an alternative means to completing continuing education requirements

Some contractors look forward to the continuing education seminars that they have to attend every year or two to fulfill their state requirements; for them, it's one of the perks of attending industry trade shows. For others, however, continuing ed. is a necessary evil, one they'd gladly dismiss if they could. Regardless of their perspectives on the subject, for contractors whose states have these requirements, there's now another way to complete continuing education credits - on-line.

The International School of Well Drilling, Lakeland, Fla., has created a continuing education program for well drillers and pump installers that is available via its Web site. There's no formal enrollment procedure to take advantage of these on-line courses. Participants need only visit the site, click on the related link to get started, then decide which course(s) they want to take. A fee is assessed for each credit hour, payable through credit card. Self-paced, this format allows contractors to complete courses on their own time.

Totaling 13 continuing education credits - one or two credits each - the selection of courses includes the history of well construction, basic geology and ground water, drilling methods, well development, well rehabilitation and abandonment, aquifer storage recovery, injection wells and geothermal heating and cooling systems; additionally, the state of Texas also has approved for its statutes and rules for Texas-based contractors to be delivered on-line through the school. According to the school's director, John Mastropietro, there are plans in the works to add courses: “It's an introductory menu only - a menu that is designed to grow.” Customization, such as the on-line delivery of the Texas statutes and rules, also is possible, he further notes.

The number of credits contractors may complete on-line depends on the licensing state. Some states have openly embraced the concept of on-line continuing education, allowing all requirements to be fulfilled on-line, while a couple others have completely rejected the idea; others partially approve, meaning some required credits may be completed on-line, but not all.

The states that currently have approved the International School of Well Drilling to provide continuing education for well drillers and pump installers are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

One concern that some states have voiced about the process is that the person taking the course is who he says he is. Mastropietro acknowledges the possibility of deception, however, he emphasizes, “In our experience, it probably does happen, but probably happens to a miniscule amount.” As a precaution, in completing a course, a contractor must sign an integrity statement, and the state is notified.

After taking a course - reading the material, and taking and passing the corresponding quiz - participants receive a certificate of completion from the school. They must earn 70 percent on the review quiz to receive a passing grade. The courses are designed such that participants need to have read the material in order to pass, but everyone is expected to pass because all they need to do is read the material.

Explaining how the on-line continuing education courses came to be, Mastropietro reveals, “We looked around for a place where we could be of additional service, and this on-line option just reared its head. We became aware that more and more states were requiring continuing education as a requirement for driller and installer license renewal, or, in fact, in some cases, even continuing education requirements in order to be eligible to take the license exam. Really, what it says is that continuing education is becoming seen as a good practice in this field, as it has been for a long time in so many other fields. By our count - we did a national survey a year ago - there were 27 states at that time that had mandatory continuing education requirements. Since that time, two other states have announced their intention to pursue that avenue.”

So far, feedback on the system has been positive, Lorraine Mastropietro, the school's co-director, reports:

“The feedback that we're getting from the drillers and pump installers is, 'Wow, I don't have to leave my jobsite;' 'I can do this on a Sunday night at 12:00;' 'I can do it in the comfort of my home, and I don't have to give up a work day to do this.' So they're excited about that. They're liking the fact that they do not have to give up a week, in some cases, to get their continuing education, because in many states, they are required to do so many per year, so many every two years.”

Many university courses and certificate programs have established on-line classes; now the drilling industry also has seized the opportunity.