Learning is a lifelong endeavor no matter what field you are in or how advanced your degree may be. As professionals discover more about the science of cleaning, drying or restoration, additional education allows them to be that much more effective in their jobs and sets them apart from their competition.

Education is also the key to staying on the cutting edge. For trade associations, education is one of the primary benefits provided to members, whether it’s through conventions, topic specific conferences and courses, online classes, magazine articles, textbooks, manuals or even networking activities.

Advanced industry certifications demonstrate that an individual takes his job and field seriously. Whether it’s carpet inspection, water or fire damage restoration, cleaning Oriental and specialty rugs, or residential or commercial carpet cleaning, clients expect that the individual performing the work knows the latest information that pertains to that field.

RIA Certifications
RIA offers six different advanced certifications: CERTIFIED RESTORERSM (CR); Certified Rug SpecialistSM (CRS); Certified Mold Professional® (CMP); Certified Mechanical HygienistSM (CMH); Certified Fabric SpecialistSM (CFS); and the Water Loss SpecialistSM (WLS).

Each specialty requires a rigorous course of study and research, as well as meeting a number of pre-certification course requirements and successfully passing (with 80 percent or better) a standardized certification examination. And the fun doesn‘t stop there. Candidates must select a topic and submit a formal report and paper on the pre-approved subject (like a Master’s thesis in a university setting). Only after all of these steps have been completed and the final report is approved, are individuals eligible to receive the Association’s appropriate certification.

Why go to all of this trouble? In short, because obtaining certification is worth the effort. Certificants (the individuals who hold the actual certifications) understand that there are many benefits that come with attaining advanced certifications including: a high level of recognition and respect within the field of expertise; quality assurance for clients and the general public; recognition as experts by the insurance industry; access to advanced technical knowledge in the field; and a competitive edge over the competition, to name a few. And the networking that takes place in the hallways between sessions, on the exhibit hall floor or at a restaurant is as valuable (and sometimes even more so) as the information gained in the actual education sessions.

RIA Rug Cleaning Standard
RIA recently published its Industry Guide and Recommended Practice for Rug Cleaning standard. This document, created and written by members of RIA’s National Institute of Rug Cleaning and peer reviewed by an additional group of professionals, addresses topics such as: pre-cleaning, dusting or dry soil removal, cleaning chemistry, cleaning & rinsing, grooming or finishing, drying, correction procedures, post inspection & quality control, and finishing.

The Standard “outlines step-by-step procedures and actions that constitute recommended professional practices covering all aspects associated with the cleaning of area rugs, including specialty and Oriental rugs.”  Its purpose is to educate cleaners and outline “the full complement of procedures that apply to this professional and specialized endeavor.”

Copies of the Standard are available from RIA by visiting www.restorationindustry.org or calling 443-878-1000.

RIA Fall Conference
Baltimore, Md., will host the 2008 RIA Fall Conference, Nov. 18-22. The event will examine environmental risk management strategies, take a look at how restoration firms can successfully and creatively market themselves to their clients, conclude round 3 of the “End-User Marketeer or Vendor Program Loyalist” donnybrook, and provide an overview of how to successfully gear up for and manage complex commercial projects with multiple stakeholders.

RIA will also unveil its new “Un-conference Format,” which allows attendees to identify the topics they would like to see addressed during the conference.

Registration details and more information on specific sessions and presenters can be found at the RIA website: www.restorationindustry.org.