Throughout the United States, restoration professionals are under a microscope. This is true in the fields of water damage restoration, mold remediation and fire restoration. What is driving this examination of our profession? The most-cited factor is cost, but this is a symptom rather than the cause. The real problem is a lack of esteem for what a professional restoration technician does.
How many of us have to explain that we do more than extract water, remove mold, or clean a home? How many times have we had to explain that we actually have advanced training and certification? If we are not perceived as professionals, we will not be treated as professionals.
The first problem is the development of an educational system that starts at the beginning – apprenticeship and continues through higher and higher levels of education and certification. The Clean Trust (formally known as the IICRC), through research and development of basic entry level training courses, has developed a program for many entry-level positions. The Clean Trust went one step further and developed the organization’s first stand-alone exam called the Mold Removal Specialist (MRS).
This exam qualifies candidates who already have training and experience. They may have already attended classes and understand industry standards yet need to provide assurance to their employer, state or local agency, or regulator of proof of their knowledge. It is a certification that will set professionals apart. Everyone needs to keep up with the latest techniques and technologies and some may need refresher training or continuing education to be better prepared to take the comprehensive exam. More information is available at www.thecleantrust.org/MRS.
The second issue is keeping unqualified people out of our profession. Although some restorers believe these issues are contradictory, they are not. My belief is that both problems can be solved through the way we define professional restorers. The Clean Trust is doing just that. Volunteers, including educators and university administrators, have developed a certification program that has something for everyone.
Certification involves a professional title that should only be used by professionals who have passed the minimum requirements in the field. Licensing is altogether different, in that it allows only a licensed person to work under a local, state, or federal law. Because most states do not require licensing, there is no process to prevent untrained workers from being called restoration technicians. Today, some states are changing that practice and are now licensing for mold remediation technicians.
Certification and licensing helps solve this problem by providing consumers peace of mind. Just as certified accountants, plumbers and mechanics project a higher level of competency in their fields, and just as members of American Medical Association set themselves apart through training, experience and comprehensive examination, certification helps immediately identify our industry’s most skilled and dedicated technicians.
There are different ways that restoration technicians can become licensed and it varies from state to state and even city to city. One way is to qualify attendees who pass an exam at the end of a class, or, to take a page from the accounting profession, require candidates to have a combination of work experience and knowledge gained through independent training and then take a test. Those who pass a stand-alone certification test still require training, education, and even experience. Nearly anyone who exhibits competency in their respective field passes an exam before they can practice in their chosen field.
Certification and licensing are not unusual for professionals. In fact, most professions have both certification and licensing. Several states have instituted this in the field of mold remediation. An example is Virginia, which recognizes The Clean Trust’s Applied Microbial Remediation Technician certification. Other professions have traveled this same path. Nurses, accountants, electricians and others have all increased their status as professionals through training, certification and licensing. Without certification, unqualified individuals will continue to operate and give our industry a bad reputation.
Our profession needs to continue to support training and certification that provides assurance for regulators and consumers alike. We need The Clean Trust and its certified professionals because together we provide the most cost-effective and efficient remediation anywhere in the world where we are needed.