Certified has become a word that has been used somewhat carelessly in associations, services and professions, including home inspection, over the years. Through the use of semantics and the desire for instant gratification, certified has become a common term without backing unless it is granted by an accredited agency.
During the October 2007 Strategic Work Session, a portion of the Operations Study performed by Plexus Corporation indicated that a trend in responsible associations was to provide a true certification program for their membership, if possible. The Board of Directors determined that the pursuit of accreditation to raise the association status of ASHI and true credentialing to give credence to our certification term was a goal worth researching.
The Board agreed that obtaining certification was uncharted territory not only for ASHI, but the profession as well. A plan was laid out that included small steps, regular review and votes to continue with the project. More than a year’s worth of research has been conducted, including interviews with accrediting bodies, certification experts and associations that hold accredited status, which most recently culminated with a survey of the ASHI membership.
The board has chosen the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) as the organization from which ASHI will pursue accreditation. The NCCA is the professional services accreditation arm of the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA). This organization was chosen because, like ASHI in home inspection, it is the recognized leader in setting quality standards for credentialing organizations. Information about these associations can be found at www.noca.org.
The NCCA requires compliance with 21 Standards, each of which has several components, in order to grant accreditation status to an association. In reviewing the Standards and the application process, it became clear that the use of a facilitator would be the most efficient means of working our way through this project. SeaCrest Company was chosen due to a resume of successful applications on behalf of associations like ASHI and first-hand knowledge of the NCCA application process.
SeaCrest’s first task was to perform a needs assessment to determine how ASHI stood in relation to the NCCA Standards and to determine if it was prudent, or even possible, for ASHI to continue this project. The results of the needs assessment reflected that ASHI met a substantial number of the required Standards. This is due, in no small part, to ASHI’s 32-year history, recognized standards and ethics, stringent membership requirements, detailed organizational structure and fully functional staff. It prompted the comment from SeaCrest that ASHI is one of the most thoughtfully and professionally maintained associations it has seen; a fact that every ASHI member should be proud of.
One of the Standards that ASHI does not currently meet is the presence of a Certification Committee that represents the interests of the Certified ASHI Members as it pertains to the certification process. This semi-autonomous committee will be populated and elected by the Certified membership. The establishment of this committee will require an addition to the bylaws. When the bylaw has undergone the review process and has been approved by the Board, the voting membership will be asked to accept this new provision.
Commonly asked questions …
How does certification work?
True certification is a two-step process. In order to grant certification to its members, an association must first become accredited. ASHI’s organizational structure will be thoroughly evaluated by the NCCA Board for compliance with the Standards of a responsible professional society. After becoming accredited, ASHI’s certification process must then be evaluated for compliance with the Standards. This process has taken other associations that were interviewed up to five years to complete. Due to the exceptional standing of ASHI and the use of a facilitator, we anticipate the process will be completed in considerably less time.
How will accreditation benefit ASHI?
This designation is not one that is easily obtained and particularly so through the NCCA. Accredited associations are held in higher regard by the media, state and federal governments, affiliated groups and the legal community. Public relations and marketing opportunities will be expanded, putting the ASHI name in front of more potential homebuyers. Avenues for non-home inspector dues revenue may present themselves through association with other groups. ASHI also anticipates that accredited status and true certification will draw new members in an association arena where the trend has been to water down requirements instead of raising the bar.
How will certification benefit me?
The most significant benefit is in the public’s perception of your credentials. An informed consumer will seek out a credentialed professional service provider when given the opportunity. ASHI’s PR efforts will be directed at educating not only homebuyers, but the real estate community as well. Whether you operate in a regulated state or not, the addition of a true certification to your credentials and your marketing plan will place your business above those that only meet the minimum bar.
What will I have to do to get certified?
If you are a full member of ASHI, you have already completed the process. Otherwise, you must complete the current membership requirements. The
continuing education requirement will also remain the same. ASHI has been able to pursue accreditation within our fiscal budget, so there will be no dues increase as a result of this initiative.
Why is ASHI getting accredited?
ASHI is recognized as the leader in home inspection by those in and out of the profession and by government entities. However, this is by reputation and recognition only. The accreditation and certification of ASHI’s processes by a recognized third party is an affirmation of the status we hold in the home inspection profession. True accreditation and certification are readily recognized and the organizations that have achieved this status are sought out by media outlets and entities looking for quality stakeholder input.
ASHI, as an organization, cannot be content to remain static. Accreditation is just one of the initiatives being undertaken, including education and marketing among others, to keep ASHI moving into the future. In the current market environment, ASHI remains the quality constant for those who value credibility over instant gratification, and the proactive leader in the home inspection
Brendan Ryan joined ASHI in 1992 and is a member of Pittsburgh’s PRO-ASHI Chapter. He is the recipient of the 2006 John E. Cox Award. As a second-year Board of Director member, he is serving as the Certification Task Force Chair.