How Installer Certification Can Change Floor Installation Industry
When the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation launched the Certified Tile Installer program in 2008, Dan Welch, NTCA president and owner of Welch Tile & Marble Company, was among the industry’s first members to jump aboard. He’s continued his support through the development of the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers. Not only is Mr. Welch a member of CTEF’s executive committee and an advocate for the certification movement, he is also a Certified Tile Installer and recipient of the Advanced Certification for Tile Installers himself. When we had questions about the growing certification movement, Dan had answers.
A Q&A With Dan Welch
TEC: Why did you get involved with the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation?
DW: When the CTEF first began their certification program, I felt like I needed something to structure the training of my crew. We used an apprenticeship model, but I thought it was important to be able to prove our competency. I put my money where my mouth was and became a certified tile installer myself.
TEC: What is the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers program? How is it related to the CTEF?
DW: The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers program is a continuation of the agenda that the CTEF began with the Certified Tile Installer course, which covers more basic skills: cutting, fitting and layout. Installers who complete that course or the IUBAC’s apprenticeship program are eligible for the ACT, which addresses specific areas: Large Format Tile Installation and Substrate Preparation, Showers, Membranes and Mortar Walls and Floors.
TEC: How was the ACT developed?
DW: We wanted the ACT to have broad industry appeal, so its development had to cross industry groups – union and nonunion. Developing and marketing the ACT was a collaborative effort among CTEF, NTCA, TCAA, IUBAC, IMI and TCNA.
Registered installers can take the practical exam at the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. However, if 10 or more installers from the same area are interested in taking the practical portion of the exam, an evaluator will come to a location near them. So, large companies can easily get many or all of their employees certified at the same time. Smaller companies can work with distributor partners to schedule evaluations.
Installers can also take the practical exam at trade shows. People from all over the country participated in both CTI and ACT testing at Surfaces last month, and my son and I were among the first installers to be ACT-certified at Coverings last year.
TEC: Why do you think these certifications are necessary?
DW: As the trade changes – and it is changing – it’s important to be able to show that your crew is competent, especially where safety is a concern. The construction industry increasingly requires certification – for scaffolding, for running lifts, for working with chemicals. As the trade moves forward, the certification programs will allow general contractors to differentiate installers in quality.
TEC: How has the industry responded to the certification movement?
DW: It’s been 5 years since CTI started, and awareness of the certification courses continues to grow. The distributors are seeing its value and starting to push certified installers in their showrooms, because they don’t want to promote people they don’t trust. As installers get involved, they’ve found that getting certified gives them a way for marketing themselves.
Certification benefits the installers, the distributors, the general contractors and the building owners. The CTI and ACT are definitely the start of something that could change the future of our industry.
To learn more about certification, visit www.tilecareer.com.
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