By demonstrating your education, practical experience, and commitment to a particular field of work, certification offers you a way to distinguish your qualifications to work in specialized areas of erosion and sediment control or stormwater management.
“Certification goes above and beyond any formal education or professional licensure that you may already have,” explains David Ward, executive director of EnviroCert International Inc. “Enhancing your technical and professional credibility puts you in a class above those who don’t have the certification.”
Certification demonstrates that you have met certain criteria required to be competent in a particular field and that you want to maintain your proficiency by keeping your certification,” adds Jerry Fifield, president of CISEC Inc.
Several companies and organizations offer certification programs. Typically, the certification process requires that applicants meet a minimum level of knowledge and experience, pass a written exam, be of sound character, and subscribe to a code of ethics. Requirements for maintaining a certification often include participation in ongoing professional development activities, such as continuing education courses, training other professionals in the field, supporting professional organizations, and promoting the profession to the public.
Certification can enhance your personal value, recognition, and marketability, and it can satisfy the qualified-person requirements in some state and local erosion and sediment control and stormwater programs. It also defines a career path for individuals where there is no degreed alternative.
“It gives employers of certificate registrants a competitive advantage and assures customers of competence, professionalism, and ethical behavior,” Ward says. “Certification also benefits the public by establishing rigorous, peer-reviewed standards for the profession and promotes clean water and environmental stewardship.”
Here are some of the national and international certification programs available for professionals in the fields of erosion and sediment control and stormwater management.
Established in 2005, the nationwide nonprofit Certified Inspector of Sediment and Erosion Control CISEC recognizes individuals who are proficient in observing, inspecting, and reporting on the implementation of stormwater pollution prevention plans SWPPPs.
“The program is aimed at the hands-on people, those who are actually doing inspections on a regular basis,” says Fifield.
The certification identifies an individual who has demonstrated knowledge and skills in such areas as the principles and practices of sediment and erosion control, observing onsite and offsite conditions that impact the quality of stormwater discharged from active construction sites, inspecting the effectiveness of installed best management practices in meeting application discharge permit regulations, and the ability to communicate and report the results of an inspection.
Applicants must have at least two years of experience installing, maintaining, or inspecting erosion and sediment control BMPs or stormwater management practices, provide three professional references, and pass a 3.5-hour written exam. “We take these references seriously and often call the reference to verify that the applicant is dedicated to being an erosion and sediment control inspector,” Fifield says.
To maintain their certification, registrants must complete 36 hours of continuing education units every three years.
The program includes nine hours of classroom instruction covering EPA information, background of an inspector, best management practices, and duties of an inspector.
“This training stresses that the role of the inspector is to observe and report results of the inspection, not to dictate the type of erosion and sediment control practices to be used at a site,” Fifield says.
The training is being expanded to include post-construction inspection procedures. Also, CISEC plans to introduce a Web-based online version of the training in the near future.
More information is available at www.cisecinc.org.
EnviroCert International Inc.
The nonprofit EnviroCert International Inc. offers three certification programs for professionals.
Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control CPESC, established nearly 30 years ago, is designed for individuals around the world who develop and review permits, design and review erosion and sediment control and drainage plans, install and inspect erosion and sediment control practices, or work in related activities, such as helping regulators, writing handbooks, or educating the public.
Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality CPSWQ is designed for those who develop and review US Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System NPDES permit applications or stormwater pollution prevention plans SWPPPs, install and inspect stormwater management practices, or are engaged in related work, including assisting regulators, writing handbooks, and educating the public.
Certified Erosion, Sediment, and Storm Water Inspector CESSWI certifies individuals qualified to provide nationally consistent inspections of erosion, sediment, and stormwater management practices for compliance with an approved site plan SWPPP including compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
To become certified, applicants for each type of certification must pass a written exam. EnviroCert International Inc. offers a six-hour classroom review course to help applicants prepare for this test. “These courses are a review of the subjects covered in the exam,” Ward explains. “It is not training. The courses review information that the applicant should have already been exposed to but may just be a little rusty in these areas.”
In addition to providing references, applicants also must meet education and experience requirements, which vary with each type of certification. For example, a CPESC applicant must have at least a BS degree in a qualifying area of study and three years of professional-level experience in the field of soil erosion and sediment control, or have at least seven years of professional-level erosion and sediment control experience. The experience time requirement can be reduced by one year by obtaining an In-Training status.
The professional experience requirements for the CPSWQ certificate range from two to seven years, depending on level of formal education. CESSWI applicants who have a two- or four-year degree in a qualified field of study can shorten the three-year experience requirement by one year.
Thus, with a related degree, an applicant must complete two years of focused experience inspecting construction activities governed by applicable US or Canadian laws.
Continuing education requirements range from 10 professional development units PDUs annually for CESSWI registrants to 60 PDUs over a three-year period for CPESC and CPSWQ registrants.
More information is available at www.envirocertintl.org.
Stormwater USA is an industry provider of Web-based-only training and certification for individuals who write SWPPPs or inspect construction sites.
“The training is available at your convenience 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Laurie Demers, president of Stormwater USA. “It prepares you to design a SWPPP or inspect the construction site as required by the EPA’s NPDES general permit for construction sites where more than one acre of land has been disturbed. Individuals who become certified meet most states’ definition of a qualified person to design a SWPPP or inspect a construction site. A few states recognize only someone who has completed the state’s own certification program as a qualified person.”
Stormwater USA has been approved by the US Green Building Council as an Approved Level 300 Education Provider, Demers notes.
The company offers two certification programs.
The Certified Compliance Inspector of Stormwater CCIS program is a six-hour class designed for municipal inspectors and job-site stormwater managers to properly implement, maintain, and inspect a site for stormwater compliance.
The training covers inspection techniques as well as proper reporting and documentation requirements.
The eight-hour Certified Preparer of SWPPP CPSWPPP certification class is designed to educate civil engineers, environmental engineers, architects, landscape architects, and other professionals in preparing a SWPPP.
Each class, which features a notebook, visuals, and a professional narrator, is divided into individual one-hour training modules. “You learn at your own pace,” she says. “Most applicants complete a class over the course of several weeks.”
Upon completing the training, applicants must pass a written exam to become certified. To maintain their certification, registrants must repeat the class and pass a test every two years.
Registrants have access to Stormwater USA’s online library of current federal and state NPDES general permits, required forms, fact sheets, and other relevant reference materials to help them stay current.
More information is available at www.StormwaterUSA.com.
More Certification Choices
Several other national certification programs are available for professionals working in erosion and sediment control and related fields. Among them are:
American Academy of Water Resources Engineers
The American Academy of Water Resources Engineers AAWRE was founded in October 2004 by practicing water resources professionals who were members of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Environmental and Water Resources Institute EWRI.
The Academy offers the Diplomate, Water Resources Engineer D.WRE certification program. It is a voluntary, post-license credential that provides professional engineers an opportunity to gain further recognition in the field of water resources engineering. The first group of D.WREs was announced in April 2005.
American Public Works Association
The American Public Works Association APWA offers a Certified Stormwater Manager CSM designation. It is intended for experts in the public and private sectors who coordinate and implement stormwater management programs for city, county, state, provincial, and federal agencies. These individuals assist in administering drainage, flood control, and water-quality programs and may also be involved in budgetary oversight, long-term planning, policy development, and other administrative activities. The program includes an eligibility application process, a test, and a recertification application process.
National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies NICET, founded in 1961, is a nonprofit division of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Its certification programs include Erosion and Sediment Control. Designed for engineering technicians engaged in all phases of erosion and sediment control work, this certification covers knowledge of soils, the erosion process, small watershed hydrology, hydraulics of basic water control structures, sedimentation process, principles of erosion and sediment control, construction practices, construction inspection, and field investigation reports.
The Erosion and Sediment Control program offers four progressively demanding levels of certification: Level I for trainees and entry-level technicians who perform limited job tasks under frequent supervision; Level II for technicians who perform routine tasks under general daily supervision; Level III for intermediate-level technicians who, under little or no daily supervision, work with standards, plans, specifications, and instructions; and Level IV for independent, senior-level technicians whose work includes supervising others.