Today's clients are savvier than ever before and use a variety of methods to determine if a construction professional is right for a project.
Certification programs have become one of the most prominent tools for clients to verify the experience and knowledge of professionals. In fact, some are requiring that professionals be certified to bid on a project. Committing to certification can set your firm apart from the competition by having third-party verification of knowledge and become one of your greatest marketing tools.
In response to demand from the industry, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association — in concert with the American Concrete Institute — developed the Tilt-Up Supervisor Certification program through ACI's C-650 Committee to maintain industry growth and professionalism.
"The use of Tilt-Up grew 23 percent in 2004 and almost 215 million sq. ft. of wall panels were constructed using the method," says TCA executive director Ed Sauter. "This kind of growth emphasizes the need for professional standards to ensure consistency and quality as the Tilt-Up construction method spreads."
Launched in 1999, the Tilt-Up Certification program was an idea that TCA began developing in 1996 before partnering with ACI. The TCA Board of Directors realized that a program qualifying on-site personnel would aid in expanding the Tilt-Up industry into new markets. The partnership between TCA and ACI was a natural fit — TCA had the expertise to develop examination questions and reference materials, and ACI had the experience to administer and oversee the certification process.
ACI offers two different types of certification levels. First, full certification as a Tilt-Up Supervisor requires a passing score on the exam (70 percent) and a minimum of five years (7,500 hours) of verifiable construction experience, of which at least three years (4,500 hours) must be as a tilt-up supervisor or assistant supervisor, as well as a demonstrated proficiency in and an understanding of overall on-site administrative and technical management for producing tilt-up projects. Those lacking the sufficient work experience to qualify as a Tilt-Up Supervisor become certified as a Tilt-Up Technician by successful completion of the same written examination. The examination consists of 80 multiple-choice questions. Currently, there are 86 certified Tilt-Up Supervisors and 235 certified Tilt-Up Technicians in Canada and the United States.
Those certified will hold the status for five years before having to recertify by successfully completing the current requirements for certification. A certified Technician is able to upgrade to Supervisor status within a five-year time period of their certification through the completion of the necessary work experience.
Companies throughout the industry have learned the value that certification can bring to their firm. DIVCON, Inc., of Spokane, Wash., is continually looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. One method the company has employed is to commit to getting its field employees certified in the TCA/ACI program.
"The certification program really helps our team get a broader picture of the tilt-up process," says Shane Miller, vice president, at DIVCON. "We have noticed that once they are through our training and get ACI/TCA certified, everyone cares about the smallest of details." At this point, more than 75 percent of DIVCON's field personnel are certified.
To prepare their team for the exam, Miller conducts a series of classes five weeks before the test. He uses the ACI Certification Manual as a study guide and reference tool. During the course, participants break down the manual and engage in discussion about the topics.
"The seminars have been a great tool for our firm for opening debate and creating a forum for information exchange," said Miller. "In fact, the sessions have become so popular that employees who are already certified attend as a refresher or to contribute to the discussion."