When our world was a little big smaller, most folks just called the plumber down the street. But with today's growing population and increasing urban environment, many homeowners and business owners are looking for a plumber that has something more, whether it's an exceptional reputation, superior customer service or certifications showing professional knowledge and experience. In this article, we'll discuss the process of getting a Certified in Plumbing Design designation and how it can benefit your business.
What's involved in getting a Certified in Plumbing Design designation?
Benefits of CertificationWhen you complete the certification program, you immediately receive some strong benefits for your business. Because you're required to have experience and to take a test to prove your knowledge, the certification helps give customers peace of mind that by hiring you, they're getting a better plumber for their home or business.
- It shows your customers that you have an interest in continued improvement and education in the plumbing industry. To maintain your certification, there's a requirement of 2.4 continuing education units (CEU) every two years. The CEUs include 1.2 CEUs in fire protection, plumbing engineering or design program, with the remaining 1.2 CEUs from an approved provider. These CEUs are easily available from reading an article a month offered by ASPE's Read, Learn, Earn program, as well as through a variety of webinars and similar educational opportunities.
- It proves your experience and knowledge meets particular standards. The testing and certification process ensures that you meet a minimum set of standards set forth by an industry leader. This automatically provides you with credibility with clients you haven't even had the opportunity to meet yet.
- The testing and certification process helps you enlarge your knowledge of plumbing engineering and design. This in turn allows you to treat each project more comprehensively. In turn, this allows you to avoid problems in installation because you'll have a better grasp of what good plumbing design looks like and what parts of the project may not work out well before they become a problem.
- Unlike other plumbing certifications which simply certify the individual's knowledge in general plumbing practices, a CPD designation shows that you have additional knowledge and experience in plumbing system design. When a potential client is looking for a plumber for a retrofit, remodel or new construction, they'll want to work with a plumbing subcontractor who understands the plans and how they are meant to work rather than simply assembling a series of components in a particular area of the structure. A CPD designation provides that assurance.
How the Certification Process WorksNow that you can see the benefits of CPD certification, you're probably curious about how the certification process works. Here are some basics to help get you started.
- Before you look at certification, keep in mind that you'll need at least two years of relevant experience.
- Though ASPE also offers a Certified Plumbing Design Technician (CPDT) designation, it's not required for the CPD certification process. This means you'll only need to certify in one designation rather than going through multiple processes.
- There are a range of study materials, seminars, webinars and online courses offered to help you familiarize yourself with the techniques, concepts and details that will be on the test. Some local chapters offer a seminar to cover the material in the certification test.
- Don't think you need any additional study for the test? That's fine. You aren't required to take a course or complete a particular amount of education if you feel you already have a good grasp of plumbing design, though you may want to take a review to ensure you're not missing anything.
- Don't feel that you need to memorize every single table and chart in plumbing design. The test is open book and you're allowed to bring in up to six references to use during the exam, provided that they are commercially produced or provided. A notebook with handwritten notes is not allowed, but review material from a course is okay. A three-ring binder with printed notes, sticky notes and loose notes within a book are not allowed.
- There are sample and practice tests available at a link through the ASPE website, but there is a charge for access to these materials. These allow you to work through the concepts and material that will be on the test ahead of time and allows you to get familiar with the certification test's format.
- The certification test is typically offered once a year in the spring. It consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and can be completed over 3.5 hours, giving you plenty of time to consider the questions and answer them correctly.
- What should you expect at the testing center? All personal items except for your ID will need to be placed in a locking compartment or filing cabinet. Any electronics, such as phones, tablets, calculators and similar devices, must be turned off prior to being placed in the cabinet to prevent disruptions during the testing period.
- Though you will need to recertify every two years, that doesn't necessarily mean you need to go out of your way or spend a lot of money. In fact, ASPE's Read, Learn, Earn program gives you one article a month to read which gives you 0.1 CEU for free. This provides you with your entire 2.4 CEU over two years if you keep up with the one article per month rate.