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Is a professional "certification" worth it?


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If the certification is from a third party and not a membership association and it meets nationally and international education and certification standards, then and only then will it be a meaningful certification. This would require the certifying body to be an autonomous stand alone organization. Right now we don't have that in the home inspection profession. One of the reasons is the cost. It is not a cheap endeavor to start and maintain a certification board. Another reason is that the profit from a certification program is very small. Then we have the large question! Will there be a market for a true certification program?

The membership organizations that start a certification program do so in the misguided assumption that it will be a new profit center. Certification programs are not going to produce a substantial amount of revenue. The extra revenue comes from the associated services, such as training, books and renewals.

Any meaningful program will need to meet the recognized standards from http://www.noca.org/

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An Association I used to belong to believes that "NOCA" is a "dirty" word and "NOCA's) requirements are "too high" for Home Inspection Certifications, even that of a "Master Inspector", one of the leaders even States that :

".the single and only value of the CMI designation.

It doesn't take skill or brains to acquire, granted. But it does take time...time that will distinguish the newby from the established inspector." Jbushart

Some Certifications are truly not worth the paper they are written on.

One thing that no one on the link you provided mentioned is the value of the Trade Certifications on employment, if the certifications are not worth anything why does an employer pay a Master Plumber, Electrician, or Carpenter so much more than an apprentice or journeyman?

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Originally posted by Lewis Capaul

An Association I used to belong to believes that "NOCA" is a "dirty" word and "NOCA's) requirements are "too high" for Home Inspection Certifications, even that of a "Master Inspector", one of the leaders even States that :

".the single and only value of the CMI designation.

It doesn't take skill or brains to acquire, granted. But it does take time...time that will distinguish the newby from the established inspector." Jbushart

Some Certifications are truly not worth the paper they are written on.

One thing that no one on the link you provided mentioned is the value of the Trade Certifications on employment, if the certifications are not worth anything why does an employer pay a Master Plumber, Electrician, or Carpenter so much more than an apprentice or journeyman?

Hi Lewis,

Well, if memory serves, the gentleman that you've quoted is a former military clerk who has been in the home inspection business about 4-5 years. That's certainly not a job that provides one a whole lot of background to jump into a new discipline and overnight become a credible source. As far as I can tell, about 98% of his contributions to the site where he's been idolized have been non-technical and don't have a whole lot to do with actually inspecting. I'm not sure that anyone who really takes this business seriously considers him a credible judge of what the business is or needs. It's simply amazing to me that with his limited experience he considers himself to be a "Master" inspector, when there's no criteria in place for the profession to bestow such designations, and when he's never undergone any sort of actual peer review to prove that he actually is what he claims to be - competent.

Let's get real; I grew up in construction, have a solid background and educating in electro-mechanicals, had formalized training in construction in the military, as well as years of experience as an investigator and with report writing. I've been in this business more than 11 years and I certainly don't consider myself any kind of "Master" inspector. I don't think that I have any right to, since I also haven't undergone any sort of peer review testing to prove my own competency. Sure, I've been in the business a long time, I've done thousands of inspections, and I actually teach this stuff. Still, where's the beef?

There are folks in the profession that I do consider "master" inspectors. Those are the folks who've been through the old ASHI peer review process, or those who'd undergone the ASHI Great Lakes chapter peer review evaluation process. Not because it was ASHI, but because it was a peer review process. I'd also consider those in Canada who've undergone voluntary peer review in their own national certification program to be 'certified' as competent.

The rest of us, including the so-called pundit you've quoted - are basically winging it. We're like doctors practicing medicine who've never been through peer reviewed training or internships. Maybe we can do it competently; but we really don't have a right to call ourselves "Masters" when there is no profession-wide criteria for "Master."

Sorry if that offends some, but it's the way I feel about it. I agree with Scott - what's needed is an independent certifying body that establishes true criteria that requires much more besides simply sending in dues and taking a bare-bones test. However, in my opinion, without peer review any attempt at establishing such criteria is without merit.

As far as the second part of your question - Why do they hire them? - I can't answer that; if I had to guess, I'd say that maybe it has something to do with union requirements.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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"Move In Certified" is Nick's latest, it's a ridiculous as all his other "Certifications". I don't actually believe that Bushart joined the CMI group, even though anyone, even those who have never performed a single inspection could and probably have, he is though, as he is in everything, that associations self appointed spokesman.

The actions of that association has taken away any credibility the the word "certify" may have had within the Home Inspection Industry. "KISS", within that association is the major rule for many of its members.

Whatever the Master Designation means within the trades, at least those who carry it have done something to earn it, 1,000's of hours of supervised experience, and many, many hours of training, some of it done by local colleges. Certified has much more meaning in the trades than it does in the Home Inspection Industry.

Like you I grew up in construction, and learned much more in the military, since retiring from the Army, and while on active duty, most of my construction experience has been part time, I also retired from another government job, doing renovations and remodeling, with new home construction thrown in every now and then.

I'm just beginning my 4th year as an Inspector, although the way I have inspected homes I have renovated and "flipped" for years is similar, but a lot more intrusive, than Home Inspecting. With things being so slow as far as inspections this summer, I reverted to flipping houses, I just finished two projects that netted me what I would have made from around 240 Home Inspections, good old "Plan B"

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Originally posted by hhempelstern

Quite a long pontification, Mike, on a fellow you never met and know so little about.

How do you explain that you are only revered on your own message board, and no others?

A lot of people who don't like you have met you though James, and even some of those who you believe are your friends tell others about your "background" and experience, one of your best buddies called and actually questioned whether or not you were Inspecting at all, Joe F., your fearless leader even mentioned your lack of experience while he was telling me about your great experience as a legal secretary in the Army. Another mentioned your carreer in Hearing Aid sales, is that true?

I don't believe you are banned from this Message Board, or the other where you post under your alias, why are you afraid to use your own name? Embarrassment?

Speaking of being revered on only your own message board, you only have a dozen or so out of your 10,000 members who revere you on your own board. My bet is that there are many, many more Nachi members who respect Mike than there are who have any use for you or your BS.

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Originally posted by hhempelstern

Quite a long pontification, Mike, on a fellow you never met and know so little about.

How do you explain that you are only revered on your own message board, and no others?

Hey, it's White Rabbit aka Jim Bushart! A man so ashamed of his own legacy as a home inspector that he will not use his real name!

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If one clicks on the link to the blog, one finds the usual stuff: home inspectors with opinions, but not much indication that they paid attention in school, if they went to school.

The problem with HI "certifications" is that they don't come from credible sources. The NHIE is a joke test. The NACHI test is a joke test. "Certifications" from online "trade schools" are essentially meaningless.

If we HIs want to boast of our education, we should take at least a few college courses, and get a decent all-around education, the kind of thing that prepares a person for lifelong learning.

My SmartyPantsLawyer (SPL) tells me that code certification can give an HI some decent cred.

And, just like in academia, it wouldn't hurt an HI to publish a little something now and then.

WJ

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I wouldn't necessarily include the NHIE in the joke test category. I'd put it in the "trying to be a decent test" category.

I'll let everyone else argue the merits or worthlessness of the NHIE, and whether it is, or is not, psychometrically valid.

I was involved on a couple occasions w/NHIE development, and at least the EBPHI has the profession in mind, and the methods of development are at least established test development mechanisms.

Does it accurately reflect the minimum base knowledge for performing home inspections? No, NIMO. It is a bare start, though, and I'd like to see it continue to something worthwhile.

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Originally posted by kurt

I wouldn't necessarily include the NHIE in the joke test category. I'd put it in the "trying to be a decent test" category.

I'll let everyone else argue the merits or worthlessness of the NHIE, and whether it is, or is not, psychometrically valid.

I was involved on a couple occasions w/NHIE development, and at least the EBPHI has the profession in mind, and the methods of development are at least established test development mechanisms.

Does it accurately reflect the minimum base knowledge for performing home inspections? No, NIMO. It is a bare start, though, and I'd like to see it continue to something worthwhile.

Your info is probably newer than mine. I'm remembering the time when the NHIE was being put together, by HI volunteers, and the sample questions I read were mostly train-wreck nonsense.

WJ

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Originally posted by kurt

I wouldn't necessarily include the NHIE in the joke test category. I'd put it in the "trying to be a decent test" category.

I'll let everyone else argue the merits or worthlessness of the NHIE, and whether it is, or is not, psychometrically valid.

I was involved on a couple occasions w/NHIE development, and at least the EBPHI has the profession in mind, and the methods of development are at least established test development mechanisms.

Does it accurately reflect the minimum base knowledge for performing home inspections? No, NIMO. It is a bare start, though, and I'd like to see it continue to something worthwhile.

What "college" courses would you recommend? Eastern Washington University used to have a Technical Degree program that could have been used, classes created, and an HI Course developed, but budget cuts did away with the Tech Program.

There are carpentry, plumbing, an electrician courses offered at various Jr. and community colleges, and lots of business and marketing courses, but unless someone want to become a P.E. there is not many classes directly related to HI around today. Hopefully that will change

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A few of the folks who have participated in writing questions for the NHIE have been;

Douglas Hansen

Bill Loden

Mark Cramer

Jerry McCarthy

Jim Katen

JD Grewell

Don Norman

Alan Carson

Jack Feldmam

Mike Casey

Rex Cauldwell

Barry Stone

The late Norm Sage

Hugh Kelso

Sidney Chason

Just to name a few. Yes, they are all volunteers. Professional testing companies handle the psychometric validation. Pearson Vue and Castle World Wide are the main psychometric providers.

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I work w/ a number of engineers and architects, and the one's that are gainfully employed in their fields all believe that their educational background doesn't prepare them for inspecting homes.

Their education surely provides them the fundamentals for understanding, and the linear thought processes necessary for this work, but by itself, an engineering degree doesn't get one much of anything related to home inspection knowledge.

A building science degree, coupled w/construction experience, or architectural training w/hands on building experience would be a great background.

In short, there are still no good educational vehicles for this profession; it's all still mired in the 3-5 day HI schools that are as (or more) interested in selling their materials as they are in educating the potential practitioners.

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

I'm remembering the time when the NHIE was being put together, by HI volunteers, and the sample questions I read were mostly train-wreck nonsense.

WJ

I think there's still some train wreck nonsense, held in place for all the political, social, and personal reasons that keep HI folklore alive and well.

At the other end is the work that is ongoing to get rid of nonsense; I've seen the work, been a tiny part of it, and it's not a bad thing. It's a good thing. We have precious little to grab onto w/this profession, and the NHIE is one of those items that might one day be a reasonable standard.

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Originally posted by Lewis Capaul

What "college" courses would you recommend? Eastern Washington University used to have a Technical Degree program that could have been used, classes created, and an HI Course developed, but budget cuts did away with the Tech Program.

There are carpentry, plumbing, an electrician courses offered at various Jr. and community colleges, and lots of business and marketing courses, but unless someone want to become a P.E. there is not many classes directly related to HI around today. Hopefully that will change

Before a would-be HI starts explaining how houses work, he needs to learn how to learn and how to teach. That means basic education should take precedence over the tech stuff, at least in the beginning.

A would-be HI needs at least two college-level English classes, at least one Logic 101 class, at least one basic math class, and an architectural history course. (Not to be a pointyheaded artiste, but to learn something about how houses were built before the would-be HI picked up his first hammer.) Of course, if he's wired right and motivated, he could learn all this stuff at the public library.

Without such courses, and a sound basic education, a would-be HI will not be able to learn from books and other peer-reviewed materials. He surely won't be able to explain what he knows to others.

As it is now, it seems many HI rely on dubious information picked up from other HIs, RE agents, errant builders and menial laborers.

Once a would-be HI becomes a successful lifelong learner, he can learn everything he needs to learn from books, the Internet, building codes, manufacturer's specs, trade association materials (such as those from the BIA), the SMACNA manual, Architectural Graphics Standards, the NAHB Performance Guidelines, etc.

Then, armed with the one- or two-year college education (and/or facts picked up during many many hours in the library), he has a shot at explaining his findings, supporting his opinions, and actually doing what HI customers expect.

IMHO, time spent on getting an adequate basic education is more useful than time spent at monthly HI meetings in which much (incorrect) folklore is exchanged.

Also, if newbie HIs would get their education from trained educators, they'd be well ahead of the would-be HIs going to the HI Folklore Schools.

Long story short, HIs should get a decent basic education, then start learning the HI biz. Starting an HI career at HI school is pretty much going backward -- like dunking the basketball in the wrong team's goal.

Of course, I could be wrong...

WJ

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Hi Walter,

Good post. No, I don't think you're wrong; you're just being bluntly honest with folks. That's something that I wish I'd had more of when I was first getting into this business. As you know, I'm firmly behind the idea of a college curriculum that's centered around home inspection and building science that could be the springboard for those interested in getting into this business, municipal inspections, environmental inspections, new construction inspections, and building science/forensics; to name a few.

Keep it up. We need more folks to hear this. We need more voices. Until more folks are interested in something like that, and willing to speak out about it more, we're never going to see things start to change. We really need to keep this idea out there and bring it up frequently.

If anyone is interested, John Bouldin, an inspector from Maryland, has been accepted into the PHD program at Virginia Tech. He intends to work on developing a 4-year college curriculum for home inspectors. If anyone is interested in sending him input on the subject, I'm sure he'd love to hear from you. You can reach John via email at: johnbouldin@comcast.net .

Myself and a few others have been kicking around the idea of a 2-year college for home inspectors for years and I'd sure be interested in what ideas readers have about should be included in the ideal 2-year curriculum for home inspectors. If anyone is interested in providing that input, please email your thoughts to me at: hausdok@msn.com .

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Pardon my cynicism, but I think the hard part of populating a college HI program will be finding enough qualified students. There will have to be remedial courses aplenty.

Just for the sake of (unscientifically) kicking around the idea: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the guy on the construction site who's in charge of minding the trash fire, and 10 being a building science brainiac in the Hansen/Cramer/Katen league, where do you think the existing class of HIs fits in?

WJ

PS: As long as the RE lobby controls state licensing, there will be constant pressure to dumb down the HI biz and keep fees low. The RE lobby has firepower roughly equal to that of AARP. They can squash us like bugs. The only reason HIs are working today is to take the liability burden of the RE agents.

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A little too cynical; not inaccurate, but not reality either.

I seem to get a lot of work from folks that understand how the game is played. They simply want to know what they're buying, and hire me to tell them. The big picture is probably slanted in the direction you describe, but it's not the whole picture.

The new class can be all those folks getting undergrad degrees in engineering, architecture, building science, or similar disciplines. If they understand it's a real gig, where one can earn a decent living, folks will migrate to it. Folks need work, this is paying work, so why wouldn't they? I've got whole big bunches of friends who are degreed architects and engineers who are either out of work, or looking for some other gig. It's not glamorous, but how glamorous is it designing bathroom details for a living? (I have a friend @ a local mega-firm who's entire career is comprised of that; he's a little disillusioned to say the least....)

Universities need to be educated as much as the public; if they see that it's a paying gig, and an opportunity for placement in a profession, why wouldn't they promote it?

And, how many other career paths really need 4 years to get in a game? So much fluff, so much time, and the students pay for it, don't they? Universities are in the game of creating bumwads for the economy as much as any other institution; they need new avenues and they know it. They just haven't been educated on the opportunity.

The NAR isn't going away, but there's a shift occurring. Most folks understand the smoke and mirror part, and those that don't will figure it out pretty quick. Heck, the most current Harris Poll places realtors @ the bottom of the esteem list, and general outrage @ the goofy commission structure is pretty much standard around here. Paradigm change is something that usually occurs in generations, not weeks or years. Maybe the realtor lobby can squash everyone and everything, but I think not in the long run.

I can't be that cynical about what I do for a living; too much looking @ the past & present, not enough looking to the future.

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I'm realistic.

For the life of me I can't see a four year home inspector degree program, possibly two but not four. The vast knowledge that a home inspector needs comes from the field and not the classroom. The classroom has a place in our profession but not for the length of time Y'all are talking about.

A basic home inspection is not rocket science, building science yes, but not rocket science. Basics can be taught in short order, but without actual field experience it will soon be forgotten.

We do have some two year programs around the country, I believe that NJ has several as well as Mississippi that I'm aware of.

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Originally posted by Scottpat

I'm realistic.

For the life of me I can't see a four year home inspector degree program, possibly two but not four. The vast knowledge that a home inspector needs comes from the field and not the classroom. The classroom has a place in our profession but not for the length of time Y'all are talking about.

A basic home inspection is not rocket science, building science yes, but not rocket science. Basics can be taught in short order, but without actual field experience it will soon be forgotten.

We do have some two year programs around the country, I belive that NJ has several as well as Mississippi that I'm aware of.

Some truth, some not.

4 year programs have a fair amount to do w/the 4 year part, and not necessarily the program part. Lottsa fluff in lottsa 4 year programs. I think a decent building inspection curriculum would have intern work similar to lots of other professions; all the work doesn't have to take place in the classroom.

"Doctor of Home Inspection" status isn't likely, but it might be a construction related degree w/a focus on building inspection, and not just homes.

What about broad based analytical review of building systems, w/related specialities in building science, cost analysis, design review, or similar support for the architectural profession. I know a fellow in Tampa, FL, who recently finished a gig of providing waterproofing details on a complex building for an architectural firm. This gig can have a lot of avenues.

This discussion is disturbingly narrow; folks should open up to the possibilities.

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Hi Walter,

Yeah, I can take a swing at that I suppose. However, for the record, I don't have a college degree. I barely made it out of high school, and, like most others, I backed into this from something else. So, I probably don't have a whole lot of room to talk. I just feel strongly that there's a certain class of inspector in this business, a small minority perhaps, that, although also under educated, believes that it's time to push the average age of this profession downward if things are ever going to change.

That said, I think the existing class is average - probably about a 5 - as it pertains to the inspecting aspects of the job, but below that - about a 4 - when it comes to being able to coherently present their findings simply to their clients; and about the same when it comes to being able to document and report their findings competently. However, that's in a situation where practically anyone who can walk, drive a car, carry a clipboard and shine a flashlight into a dark area, can get into the business - anywhere. If there had been a true bar set for this profession years ago, I think that those numbers would both be far higher.

Very few folks that I've met in the business support the idea of anything more than the 5-10 day model of training, let alone a college level education for home inspectors. Remember, though, that most of the current class of HI's that you've asked me to comment on is someone who's backed into the profession from somewhere else and has no interest in going back to school. They're intently focused on being around for 15 years - maybe 20 on the outside - doing as little as they need to, in order to make as much as they can, and then they plan to pull the plug.

Most inspectors I've met don't want to see a degree required and don't want to see a high bar set unless they'll automatically be 'grandfathered' and won't have to do anything to step over the bar. They almost universally certainly don't want to see the business taught to young folks in colleges, as with other disciplines, and I hear all sorts of reasons why it just can't be done. I'm not sure why there's so much resistance to the idea; unless it's because teaching the business to young folks fresh out of school, like other professions are taught, might hasten the speed with which the demographic of this profession changes, and these same folks are afraid that they'd find themselves sitting around staring at the phone while those with a degree got most of the work.

For the past few years, I've been teaching a fall semester at a local community college. In general, I've found that today's community college student - at least the ones that I run into, although not exactly a towering intellectual beacon - is capable of comprehending the building science aspects of what we do, as well as the electro-mechanical and structural aspects. I think that the profession can and should be taught to young folks and that we in the profession should encourage it and get behind it by establishing some kind of formalized apprenticeship and certification program like other "professions."

The bottom line is that, and you know this because you've heard me say it before, I think that if we ever want to see this business become a true profession, we're going to have to start teaching it to younger folks and let them gradually implement changes that raise the bar, because there sure doesn't seem to be a whole lot of will in the business right now to do so.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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