Letter from Larry Zarker, BPI CEO
As many of you are aware, BPI introduced exams for four advanced certifications in a pilot phase this summer and will follow with a nationwide roll out later this year. Together with BPI's existing certifications held by tens of thousands of professionals throughout the country, the new credentials help to define a career path in home performance contracting. These certifications - Home Energy Auditor, Retrofit Installer, Crew Leader, and Quality Control Inspector - satisfy the demands of both the national Weatherization Assistance Program and the home performance marketplace for a skilled workforce with proven experience.
The Home Energy Professional certifications will not replace existing BPI certifications; rather, they will build on and complement the current credentials. Our Building Analyst, Envelope, and Air Leakage Control Installer certifications play an important role in weatherization and home performance, as do our Heating, Air Conditioning/Heat Pump, and multifamily designations. They will continue to deliver valuable skill sets to the market and to programs in the years ahead.
And yet, throughout the blogosphere we are hearing from BPI certified professionals, "I'm certified. Now what?" Or even more concerning, "Am I going to have to throw away the certifications I have now and start over?" Simply put, no. What you have now has a purpose and an established place in the market. As you build upon your skills, knowledge, and experience the question becomes "What next?" that will help you grow your personal career or business.
Certification itself is not the end game, but really the first step. It's an entry point on the journey toward a successful career. It is that career path model that is behind the development of the Home Energy Professional certifications, which are offered by BPI and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).
It should be noted that the four new certifications are not designed for rookies to the home performance game. All four contain experience prerequisites. Each certification requires the individual to prove he or she has spent time in the field doing related work.
That's an important point of differentiation. Not only for the individual who gains the certification, but also for the employers, program administrators and consumers who get to choose who goes into the home to conduct the audit and do the work. Experience speaks volumes when it comes to reducing risk and building trust.
So how do these advanced certifications benefit each of these groups? Most importantly, it's about differentiating from competitors. For the individual, that differentiation means increased job opportunities and job security, and a higher level of professionalism. For employers, differentiation means a higher-quality workforce doing quality work for happier customers, leading to reduced call backs, improved satisfaction, fewer emergency replacements and more referrals. Not to mention a marketing edge when speaking with homeowners. For program administrators, the verification of skills and experience adds up to reduced liability.
And for the home performance community, the Home Energy Professional certifications--and all the experience they entail--are the next step in the evolution of a recognized, self-sustaining, thriving and credible industry.
What might a career path look like with these new opportunities?
If you have your Building Analyst (BA) certification and meet the experience prerequisites, when it is time to renew, you might choose instead to upgrade your credential to the new Energy Auditor certification. Or, you might choose to earn the new QC Inspector certification, or retain your BA certification.
If you have your Air Leakage Control Installer and meet the experience prerequisites, the logical next step may be to earn the Retrofit Installer certification. And perhaps later make the leap to Crew Leader.
If you hold a BA, Building Envelope (BE), Heating or AC/Heat Pump credential, your diagnostic experience makes you a prime candidate for the new QC Inspector certification. Your skills, knowledge and abilities may also hold you in good stead as a Crew Leader.
There is also a lateral path between the four new certifications. An Energy Auditor may move sideways as a QC Inspector. A Retrofit Installer may shift over to become a Crew Leader.
The point here is to allow individuals to broaden their horizons within the home performance field, and to build on their skills and experience over time. The Home Energy Professional certifications are truly meant to help you take your career to the next level.
For details on the new certifications, go to www.bpi.org/pilot.
We value your perspective and welcome your feedback.
Thank you for all of your efforts to build a strong home performance contracting industry.