Guest Blog

Certifications Need Standards

November 27, 2012

How do you prove that you possess the skills needed to perform a job? This has been an ongoing challenge, especially for those of us in the trades.

In much of the job market, employers list bachelor’s or master’s degrees as prerequisites to being considered for a position. However, possessing a degree proves that you attended school but does not prove that you have the skills to perform a job. I have known people with degrees from well-respected schools who have driven businesses into the ground because they did not have the needed skills. There has to be another metric to demonstrate competency.

Certification would seem to be that metric, and a viable alternative to a degree. With certification, a third party verifies your skills in a given area usually by means of a test. This can be especially important in rapidly changing industries where what was true five years ago is not true today.

Having passed many certification tests and proctored many others, I have found faults in the tests used to verify a person’s skills. I have found questions regarding practices that were phased out 30 years ago and have little or no bearing today. Other questions reference products that showed promise but never became part of the mainstream industry. Regional jargon seems widely used, which makes test questions confusing for people in other regions. Spelling errors are common and some questions are technically wrong. Many of the tests seem be examples of how clever the test writer can be and not a means of determining how competent the test taker is.

If certifications are to remain valid and gain acceptance with employers and society as a whole, we need to have standards. I believe these standards should include at least the following:

  • Questions must have 95 percent skill validity, meaning that the certification assesses those skills needed 95 percent of the time. Obscure or outdated procedures or skill sets that are needed once or twice in a career should be excluded.
  • Proper names must be used in place of trade names or industry jargon.
  • Test questions must be spelled properly and include proper grammar.

Certification can be the answer to those of us who have the skills employers need but not the means or circumstances that allowed us to earn a degree. But this will only be true if certification achieves the same level of respect as a degree.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2015 AHR Expo

Photos from the 2015 AHR Expo at McCormick Place in Chicago.

Posted: February 19, 2015


NEWSMakers: Michael Nark

Michael Nark, CEO of BuildingIQ, talks about the company’s software platform which works with existing building management systems in commercial buildings to adjust HVAC operations to increase cost savings and the future of the building automation and controls market. Posted on March 20.

More Podcasts


NEWS 03-23-15 cover

2015 March 23

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

HVAC Trends

The NEWS regularly reports on HVAC industry trends in our weekly issues. What trends do you see?
View Results Poll Archive


2015 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con