Certification Programs Offer Value in More Ways Than One

Jan. 1, 2011

There’s strength in numbers, or so the adage goes. By that measure, the four certification programs administered by EnviroCert International Inc. are strong and getting stronger as they continue to attract new registrants.

These programs include Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC); Certified Professional in Storm Water Quality (CPSWQ); Certified Erosion, Sediment and Storm Water Inspector (CESSWI); and Certified Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Specialist (CMS4S). At last count, the number of active registrants (those who meet the annual requirements for maintaining their certification) in these programs totaled more than 5,400. That represents the largest registry in the world of certified professionals working in various fields and disciplines to protect and conserve soil and water resources.

What’s more, most of the registrants in these programs are in it for the long haul. Last year, 92% of those registered the previous year met the requirement to continue their certification. “Each year, we lose about 3% of our registrants to retirement or death,” says David Ward, executive director of EnviroCert International Inc. “Only about 5% fail to maintain their certification.”

The ability of the organization to attract and to keep such a high percentage of active registrants reflects the value of the various certification programs.

Much of that, in turn, stems from the rigorous requirements each registrant must meet in terms of technical expertise and professional conduct. It’s a process that not only benefits the registrant, but also the individual’s employer and clients as well as the public. These benefits, for example, range from enhancing a registrant’s professional credibility and gaining a competitive advantage when marketing the individual’s services to assuring customers of the registrant’s competence, professionalism, and ethical behavior and promoting clean water and environmental stewardship.

The programs under the EnviroCert International Inc. umbrella are strong in other ways, as well.

Professional Leaders
Although the various programs of EnviroCert International Inc. are administered by a full-time staff, the programs themselves are developed and managed by the registrants. For administrative purposes, the programs are divided into various geographic regions.

Each certification program is run by a council composed of one registrant from each region. The work of each council is directed by a five-member executive committee, elected from the members of the council. Overseeing the councils and providing administrative guidance to the programs is the EnviroCert International Inc. board of directors. The board of directors is made up of the chairperson from each council and two at-large directors appointed by the council chairs.

Organizational Experience
As an organization, EnviroCert International’s roots go back to 1978 and the start of its first certification program, CPESC. The organization has used the experience acquired since then to continue refining its existing programs as it adds new programs to meet the changing needs of the professionals and the industries they serve.

For example, implementation of Phase I of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System in the early 1990s, called for, among other things, improving stormwater management practices associated with construction and industrial activities. In response, EnviroCert International launched its second certification program, CPSWQ, in 1998. Later, following adoption of the Phase II of NPDES and the need for quality professionals involved with other aspects of controlling erosion and sediment and managing stormwater quality, it added two more certification programs-CESSWI in 2007 and CMS4S in 2010.

“We continue to field requests to develop certification programs dealing with a variety of professional interests in the field of soil and water conservation and management,” Ward says. “From time to time, we set up committees to investigate the feasibility of a new certification. Industry needs and the capabilities of our organization both factor into a determination on adding a new certification. Sometimes, we’ve chosen not to proceed with an idea. However, we continue to explore new opportunities.”

A Global Reach
As indicated by its name, the certification programs of EnviroCert International Inc. extend beyond the borders of any one country. “Not only does this help promote improved erosion and sediment control and stormwater management practices around the world, but it adds value for registrants by increasing their credibility when working outside of their home countries,” Ward says.

Enhanced Credibility
The rules and regulations adopted by the EPA to implement the federal Clean Water Act have played a major role in the need for certification programs in the United States, like those of EnviroCert International certification programs. In fact, the EPA has provided assistance and guidance in developing and improving the organization’s programs.

“We’ve been fortunate in having an EPA representative at the national level serve on committees to improve our CPESC and CPSWQ programs and to design our CESSWI and CMS4S programs,” Ward says. “That helps assure registrants and the public in general of the value of our various certifications by giving these programs a built-in credibility.”

Strong Ethics
Each of the EnviroCert International certification programs requires registrants to follow a code of conduct and ethics. It details the moral obligations of registrants, guided by the highest standards of ethics, personal honor, and professional conduct with the public, employer, client, and other professionals as well as duties to the profession.

“The ethics committees of each program take this code very seriously,” Ward says. “In several cases, they’ve either denied an applicant to take the certification exam or they’ve taken away a registrant’s certification for violating this code.”