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To Certify or Not to Certify

The CFA Board of Directors had an in-depth discussion over the merits and need for certification prior to its board meeting in Las Vegas. There is a movement in some building jurisdictions for all contractors and subcontractors to be certified. If we don’t take action, it could boil down to someone outside the industry dictating a program that our industry must adhere too – not a pleasant thought. A CFA survey conducted by fax and email demonstrated strong support for foundation contractor certification. No decisions were made but a committee was appointed to study the issue.

Certification boils down to two forms. One would certify an individual as qualified in whatever area the committee feels is appropriate. The most logical individual to certify would be a project foreman, job captain, or some other designation for the worker with overall field responsibility for a project. This would most likely be a joint program administered with another organization such as ACI. ACI would be the logical choice as they have the expertise, manpower, and track record for individual certification programs.

Before such a program could be introduced many things would have to happen:

• The responsibilities of the individual to be certified would have to be defined.

• Study guides and other “bodies of knowledge”, such as the CFA Standard, the ACI 332 Guide and Standard, and industry publications would need to be reviewed.

• A pool of questions and answers to include on the exam would have to be developed (it’s a lot harder than you would think).

• The exam would have to be written, beta tested, and refined.

• Educational seminars for preparing candidates to take a “written exam” need to be developed.

• Would there be different levels of certification for different aspects of the process?

• What about experience?

• A determination must be made as to whether or not a field test would be required. This is typically a 3-4 year process.

The second form of certification would be company certification. If this approach were to be pursued, it would most likely be administered by the CFA. Company certification also has a long list of requisites and decisions that must be considered before it can be introduced:

• What would be the requirements for a firm to be certified?

• Safety programs using certified or knowledgeable people?

• Development of quality standards.

These are just a few of the areas where companies are likely to be judged.

The arguments against individual certification include the possibility of increased labor costs (certified individuals may feel deserving of higher pay); benefit relative to cost (in time and money) is doubtful unless the certification is mandatory; and key employees could be targeted by the competition for hiring if they are certified.

Arguments in favor include the ability to set your company apart from the competition; instilling goals and a sense of accomplishment and worth for younger employees; and, upgrading the image of our industry.

We don’t have the answers at this time but the concept will be pursued as the debate continues. If you have opinions and interest, one way or the other, get in touch with CFA staff by emailing Jim at

Ed Sauter, Executive Director, CFA

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us