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Misrepresenting One’s Professional License


Some professionals engage in unethical and illegal activities when they have an active license. But what happens when someone claims to have a license but it’s expired or nonexistent? Can they face administrative actions and various penalties?

It depends. Saying you have a license is one thing but performing work as a licensed professional is a whole different story. For example, what if you claim to be a professional engineer but have an expired license? That’s different from a person operating on a patient despite having an expired license due to medical malpractice.

In some issues, it can become a free speech issue. Are once-licensed professional engineers no longer allowed to consider themselves as such because they let their license expire? Where is the line drawn?

A professional engineer is facing this situation. He received his license in 2000 and it expired in 2018. The Minnesota man, CEO of an organization called Strong Towns, calls himself a professional engineer on the organization’s website. An anonymous complaint was filed against the man, calling it fraud.

Under state law, a person cannot practice engineering without a license. State law prohibits individuals from referring to themselves as a professional engineer in print media such as advertisements, signatures and letterheads.

So, what happens when someone lies about their academic achievements and credentials? In this situation, a professional engineer was given an award for graduating with honors and pursuing a master’s degree, as well as being active in the community. However, the professor attending the awards ceremony did not remember the professional engineer from her classes. When she asks the college to verify the man’s academic history, it was discovered that the man had never graduated nor was he enrolled in a master’s degree program.

While lying about past schooling is not a crime, misrepresentation of credentials is, at a minimum, considered a breach of ethics. When a person violates their state’s licensing regulations, they can face punishment ranging from civil fines to suspension and even revocation of their license.

Professionals must be mindful of what they tell others about their academic or professional accomplishments. It is easy to access information about an individual’s academic history and past employment. The truth almost always comes out. Whether you are creating a resume or showing off your professional accomplishments at an awards ceremony, you must always be truthful. As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Administrative & Professional Licensing Lawyer

It is important to act in an ethical manner at all times. Misrepresenting yourself as a licensed professional when you are not can subject you to criminal prosecution.

Protect your license and livelihood with help from Tampa administrative & professional licensing lawyer David P. Rankin. He has more than 40 years of experience assisting licensed professionals when complaints are filed against their license. He has represented over 100 professional engineers in matters before the Florida Board of Professional Engineers.  Fill out the online form or call (813) 968-6633 to schedule a consultation.