There have been a lot of discussions over the past ten years about the value of certifications and who provides them. Because there is no national “clearing house” to evaluate the validity of a company that claims to certify, it’s been the wild west out there in regards to what a certification really means. We hope this will help clear up some of the confusion.
In the mold industry, training is important because this niche market requires specific handling of materials that could damage the health of both the workers and the occupants. Because there are no national standards for the proper removal of mold contaminated materials, industry professionals have relied on the guidelines established by IICRC called the S-520. Any certification for mold professionals should promote the IICRC S-520 as its “gold standard” because it is, by far, the most comprehensive guideline dealing with mold evaluation, removal and personal protection equipment. The EPA guidelines are sparse and the New York City Guidelines dated so invest in an S-520 to get a broader picture of the problem and solution. It is our opinion that this level of training should be required for any certification (CIE, CMR, CMA, etc.). Though hard to believe, there are some certification agencies that require NO training to sit for their examination. We are not convinced that “on-the-job” training is the best way to learn because, as a good teacher once said, “practice may make perfect but it also makes permanent” and sometimes bad habits can be strengthened instead of removed.
Once the proper training is secured (through a good training provider separate from the certifying agency), the certification process should include the following components and we at NORMI subscribe to all of these, without exception:
1) Credibility should come from States and Federal agencies–it doesn’t really matter what the competitors say if the states and federal agencies see your certifications as valuable, then they are valuable.
2) Certifications should be based on good training–there should be opportunities for people with a vast amount of field experience to “grandfather in’ and challenge the test for certification but it should be the exception and not the rule. Close scrutinity should be exercised when evaluating field experience and classroom training, especially ongoing CEU training, should be a part of the picture for any certification agency.
3) Proctored Examinations guarantee security–no matter who the training provider might be (IAQ Training Institute, Best Training School, IAQA, LSU, Bob’s Mold Class) the certifying agency should proctor the examination to be sure the person who took the class is also the person taking the examination. The examination process is a science and should not be left to the discretion of the person who created the training. In states where licensing is required, this examination should only be offered ONSITE, not online where the wife could take it!
4) Online certifications need investigation–one company sells a CMR class online and provides the study guide WITH the certificate in the same package. That’s a problem. However, discounting the value and convenience of online training is also a mistake. It can be done right–just needs the proper supervision.
5) No one does it perfectly–Certification agencies abound. Some do it well, some not so well. But here’s a fact–any agency that claims they are the ONLY credible certifying agency is not! Why? Because the states and federal agencies that rely on good certification agencies to vet licensees say so. As an example, NORMI is a CEU Training Provider for three licensing boards in the State of Florida. It was not an easy process and something that should not be dismissed out of hand.
Conclusion–In this industry where there is so much fraud, so much hype and so much misinformation, look for a certification agency that cares about doing it right, has a Code of Ethics you can believe in and a Board of Directors ethical enough to provide continuing support in an ever-changing industry. An educated consumer will make the right choice.