As the economy of our nation improves so does that of the construction industry. This is especially true in the Carolinas which, according to governmental statistics, the construction industry in both North and South Carolina is experiencing some of the largest economic growth in the country. While this is great news for those employed in the industry, it also brings with it many challenges to owners, designers and constructors. Especially when it comes to owners selecting the most qualified contractor to construct their projects in a safe, timely and quality manner and within their budgets. History has proved that in good economic times owners not only have a difficult time finding qualified contractors but also those that they do employ often times do not meet their projects’ goals due to many reasons especially as it relates to ineffectiveness of the contractors’ project managers.
No matter what type and size of project, it is the responsibility of all project and construction managers to effectively ensure that their projects are constructed in a quality manner, on time, on budget, and safely. This requires professionals who not only have the needed skills and knowledge but also the willingness to accept the technical and ethical obligations associated with their responsibilities. While state licensing for architects and engineers provides an increase level of assurance to clients that their projects will be designed to meet their needs and protect the safety of the public, certification can do the same for Constructors.
As every client knows, if a project is to be designed and constructed to meet their needs, no matter what project delivery method is used, without a team of qualified designers and constructors, working collaboratively with the client, problems in meeting project goals are inevitable. Unfortunately, perceptions of design and constructor professionals of each other’s professional qualifications or the lack thereof, serves as a hindrance for a truly collaborative team effort to meet the client’s goals. That is why it is critical for constructors to attain professional qualifications equivalent of those of architects and engineers.
Realizing a need existed for a national third-party professional qualification for constructors involved in the construction process, no matter the type or size of construction company and type of project delivery method, representatives of the major construction associations along with the owners and executive managers of national construction companies joined together in 1994 to embark on the development of a two-level national constructor certification process. Working with a major national test development organization, they developed two certifications based on meeting specified educational and experiential qualifications and passing a comprehensive examination. The first level – Associate Constructor (AC) – recognizes individuals who have earned an undergraduate degree in a construction management related program from an accredited college or university or have attained approved construction experience with or without some formal education combined with passing a comprehensive examination over the foundational skills and knowledge needed of an entry level manager of the construction process.
The second level – Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) – recognizes individuals who have earned an undergraduate degree in a construction management related program and have no less than four years of documented experience in the overall construction process and the management of a construction project or a minimum of eight years in the case of not having the degree and pass a comprehensive examination over the application of the foundational skills and knowledge needed to effectively resolve constructability issues and oversee the overall construction process. One does not have to earn the AC certification prior to applying for the CPC qualification. The CPC certification is considered nationally to be an equivalent professional qualification to licensing of architects and engineers.
While both the AC and CPC certifications are relatively new as compared to how long state licensing of architects and engineers has existed, they are becoming more recognized and accepted by the construction industry as the only third-party national certifications for all types and sizes of general and specialty construction contractors no matter the type of project delivery method. Those construction companies who support and reward those in their firms who have achieved the CPC certification have found the examination to be an effective independent assessment of an employee’s skills and knowledge; improves company marketability to clients and provides added assurance that employees will continue to improve their skills and knowledge. And those companies who employ recent college graduates who hold the AC qualification have experienced a shorter learning curve and a more productive individual in a shorter amount of time.
In addition, many owners and public entities are recognizing the benefits of the CPC certification. For example, Clemson University and Texas A&M are now placing language in their Requests for Qualifications and/or Request for Proposal documents indicating preference in their contractor selection method for those companies who will have CPCs as part of their project management teams. In addition, the states of Oklahoma and Texas contractor licensing boards, recognize the CPC professional qualification as acceptable to perform construction management work in their respective states. Finally, progress is being made to have the CPC certification accepted by various segments of the Federal government. In summary, owners are experiencing that having CPC’s on their project management teams provides an added level of assurance that their projects are being constructed and managed in a more professional and ethical manner.
And as for the individual CPCs themselves, the benefits are many including enhancing their image as a professional to clients, their employers and the public and improving their career opportunities by setting themselves apart from those not having the certification. A recent study
of CPCs found that a third indicated attaining the professional qualification helped them become promoted; 20% realized increases in their compensation packages and 20% felt an increase in respect from their peers, employers and clients as a construction professional. In fact an employer is more likely to put trust in both the quality and the reliability of the work done by someone who has the experience, education and ethics that is required to have a CPC.
In closing, constructor certification is the mark of a true professional in the construction industry, indicating the individual has met the educational, experiential and professional standards needed to uphold the obligations of the profession. If you are currently working in the construction industry and have been involved in various phases of managing a construction project and not certified you are encouraged to do so. And to help enhance the image of our profession while improving the industry as a whole, construction employers are encouraged to hire college graduates who have their Associate Constructor designation and to encourage and support the attainment of the CPC by their current project-level managers. After all don’t we all want CPCs to be the ones who are managing the construction of the world’s vast number of projects? For more information about constructor certification go to www.professionalconstructor.org.
About Roger W. Liska, EdD, FAIC, CPC, FCIOB, PE – Roger W. Liska, Ph.D., has dedicated his entire career to education, training and getting young people interested in the construction industry. A professor with Clemson University’s Construction Science and Management department for 33 years – and department chairman twice – Dr. Liska is the chair of the American Institute of Constructors’ (AIC) Constructor Certification Commission. He has been a member of the AIC for more than 40 years and was one of the first individuals to be named a Certified Professional Constructor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.