Complete Your Engineering Team With NICET Certification

July/August 2019

NSPE Today
Complete Your Engineering Team With NICET Certification

In the late 1950s, as the US came to rely more heavily on machines and automation, technically skilled workers who could support the work of engineers were in high demand. In 1961, NSPE responded by forming an organization to certify technicians and technologists.

But even though technicians have been an integral part of the engineering team and NSPE since then, that organization—the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies—is not well known by PEs. A well-attended, NSPE-sponsored webinar on May 29 provided the full picture, however.

During the webinar, “Quality and Safety Through a Qualified Engineering Team,” NICET Communications Director Chip Hollis detailed the institute’s operations and the technician’s role on the team. NICET was founded as a way to recognize the qualifications of technicians. Its focus, Hollis explained, helps ensure a qualified engineering workforce, certifying both engineering technicians and technologists in areas such as construction materials testing, transportation construction inspection, electrical power, fire protection, and security systems.

More than 150,000 individuals have been certified since the organization began.

Certification measures an individual’s knowledge and skills through exams, experience, and performance. “It distinguishes the qualified from the not-yet qualified,” said Hollis.

Certificants can advance through four levels: entry level (I) up to senior (IV). Continuing professional development is required for recertification, and all candidates must agree to abide by the NICET Code of Ethics.

Industry experts and practitioners establish certification exam content and requirements. NICET’s staff guides these volunteers through the multistep development process using the principles of fairness, validity, and reliability. Certification programs thus both meet stakeholders’ needs and are legally defensible.

NICET certification can help protect both the workforce and the public, Hollis explained in the webinar, as well as provide benefits such as increased productivity and quality; cost savings; reduced liability; and increased retention.

The institute works with industry on requests for programs, such as the new certification in inspection and testing of fire alarm systems. And an underground utilities construction inspection certification is under development.

In closing, Hollis referenced marketing expert Seth Godin’s “purple cow” concept; that is, what makes an organization stand out. NICET’s purple cow, he said, is the individuals it certifies. They’re the ones who “go to work every day and do their best, holding themselves to the highest standards…. Because of the integrity they show on the job and the work they do, people talk about NICET.”