The subject of certification for IAQ professionals has come up frequently in recent months in IAQA member forums. In reviewing the commentary of members, it became evident that there were certain misconceptions about IAQA and its role in industry certification. It also became evident that members were seeking guidance from IAQA about which certifications programs are “best” or have the most credibility.
In response to the questions asked and guidance sought by IAQA members, the association approved an IAQA Position Statement on Certification in May. The document explains IAQA’s previous role in the certification of IAQ professionals and describes the attributes IAQA believes are important for personnel certification programs.
IAQA recognizes that only a few organizations have attained all of the attributes IAQA recommends for bodies that bestow personnel certification. However, IAQA also recognizes a growing trend among certifying bodies to improve their programs to meet newly embraced standards and guidelines produced by accrediting agencies for personnel certification programs. IAQA encourages all certification bodies to strive to attain the highest levels of excellence in their personnel certification programs:
“IAQA members include a very diverse group of consultants, contractors and others with an interest in IAQ. It should therefore come as no surprise that members of IAQA are certified, registered or licensed by dozens of different organizations and entities. These include state and municipal governments; non-profit organizations like ABIH, ACAC, ASHI, AEE, ASHRAE, BCSP, IICRC, NADCA, NAFA, NEHA, RIA, USGBC and more; as well as by educational institutions and private training providers.
IAQA ceased being a certification body in 2006. That is when IAQA transferred its certification programs to the American IAQ Council (now the American Council for Accredited Certification - ACAC). The transfer of certification programs took place under an agreement whereby ACAC transferred its membership and chapter programs to IAQA.
Prior to this transfer, IAQA certification programs included the “Certified Mold Remediator - CMR” and the “Certified Indoor Environmentalist - CIE”. When these programs were transferred to ACAC, they underwent substantial change, allowing them to become accredited by the Council for Engineering and Scientific Specialty Boards (CESB). IAQA has no influence over or participation in the administration or operation of these or any other certification programs.
Within the sphere of IAQ consulting and contracting, as well as in their mold sub-specialties, there are several certification bodies. IAQA does not exclusively endorse or approve any particular certification program. IAQA believes its members should strive to achieve the experience, education, and credentials necessary to conduct their business activities in a competent and ethical manner. For some members, that may include certifications from multiple organizations.
IAQA believes the following are important attributes for a certification body:
- The certification organization and its programs should be accredited by a non-profit, third-party organization such as ANSI, CESB or NCCA.
- The certification organization should be operated in compliance with applicable ANSI, CESB and/or NCCA standards and guidelines for personnel certification programs.
- The certification organization should be structured such that its volunteer leadership is selected by their peers through a process that is democratic, transparent and consistently applied.
- The certification organization should use state-of-the-art psychometric methods in the development and maintenance of its certification examination programs.
- The certification organization should allow individuals who meet reasonable experience and/or education eligibility requirements to “challenge” its certification examinations without having to take a specific training course.
- Certification should be offered by non-profit organizations that are independent of training entities, product or service vendors, or other parties with similarly vested interests.”