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The Cost of Certification

February 10, 2004
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What usually comes to mind when we talk about the cost of certification?The cost of the course itself. The time spent away from work. The cost of travel to the course, and, of course, the fact that the person taking the course might go work somewhere else next month.

Now consider your company's service vehicles: you pay to have them repaired, you take them out of service to maintain them, you drive them to a service center to get the work done and, if necessary, you travel a long distance to get specialized work done. The worst part is, your vehicles have a limited life expectancy: they will be replaced.

But even knowing this, you work to keep them in optimum condition, to maximize their efficiency. So what's the difference?

We all know that providing employees with the opportunity to take certification courses and participate in continuing-education programs is critical to the success of our businesses, to the level of service provided to our clients and to the development of career-minded technicians.

The IICRC has certified thousands of technicians over the years, providing a goal-oriented career path for the women and men who serve in our industry. From the original carpet- and upholstery certifications started back in the seventies to courses in restoration, repair, advanced designation programs, hard surface inspection and the coveted senior carpet inspector program, technicians can attain ongoing knowledge through IICRC certification programs while getting closer to realizing the potential of earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

The other side of the cost of certification is, from our perspective, here at the IICRC. Keep in mind, the IICRC does not own any of the schools or employ any instructors. That is done through industry-specific businesses that meet rigid IICRC requirements and qualifications.

The IICRC has created and maintains 15 different certifications. With a staff of 10, IICRC headquarters does all the grading of exams, maintains records for all certified firms and technicians, runs the Cleaner Referral System, maintains the Web site, does all the organization's mailing, and much more. These, in my opinion, are some other real costs of certification.

Then there are the hidden costs of certification, the costs that few people see and even fewer realize take place. These are the thousands and thousands of hours donated by the dedicated volunteers that run the IICRC, from the board of directors to the various trade advisory committees and task forces that create new certifications. They are all made up of the industry's most dedicated volunteers.

A great example of this is the IICRC Applied Structural Drying course, one of our most recognized courses. Chaired by then-treasurer and now IICRC Vice Chair Darrell Paulson, the course was created by some of the industry's most recognized professionals. Paulson rallied these top guns from all over the country, and some even further away, organizing and running the meetings and bringing the course to fruition.

He has also been instrumental in negotiating contracts for the IICRC, whether with our auditors, paid consultants or our legal counsel. His negotiating skills have saved the IICRC and its registrants thousands of dollars through the years.

Just look at the creation of the recent IICRC S520 Standard and Reference Guide for Mold Remediation, a prime example of a volunteer effort. Professionals like Lonnie McDonald, task force chair for the upcoming IICRC leather care course, and Mike Reed, IICRC secretary and instructors and schools committee chair (who is now chairing the task force for blood-borne pathogens) are working on new courses, as well as maintaining and updating existing courses, to ensure the most current information is being taught to our students.

Every IICRC certification course and standard published is created by volunteers who donate their time to a very worthy cause: our industry. The time donated by these unselfish people is another very real cost of certification.

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