Designations and certifications

Professional development and continuing education are important to most design/construction professionals. What kind of impact does certification have? Photo courtesy BigStockPhoto/Suriya Silsaksom
Professional development and continuing education are important to most design/construction professionals. What kind of impact does certification have? Photo © BigStockPhoto/Suriya Silsaksom

Last week, at the CSC-DCC National Conference in Kitchener, Ont., members from across the country assembled for a few days of networking and technical education. (For a full show wrap-up, see the forthcoming July 2014 issue of Construction Canada.) The event also enabled a means of honouring some of Canada’s brightest emerging construction professionals and decorated design veterans. In some cases, this meant presenting awards to volunteers whose work has improved the nation’s building community; in others, it allowed those who have earned new professional designations to be recognized in front of their peers.

Earning the letters
Over the past 12 months, 32 members achieved one of CSC’s designations, and a handful of these were in attendance in Kitchener to receive their educational registration certificates.

Over the course of CSC’s 2013-2014 year, several members received their Certified Technical Representative (CTR) designation, which was established to recognize individuals who market and distribute construction products and materials. They are:

  • Mackenzie Adkin (Toronto);
  • MacGregor Anderson (Vancouver);
  • Peter Birkbeck (Toronto);
  • Brian Dobbins (Toronto);
  • Tomasz Dobrowolski (Vancouver);
  • Jeffrey Dye (Vancouver);
  • Stephen Leask (Toronto);
  • Shamanna Kelamangalam (Toronto);
  • James Kelly (Vancouver); and
  • Richard Seidelmann (Vancouver).

The following people became Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCAs), demonstrating their ability to administer and enforce contract conditions during the project’s bidding and construction phases:

  • Hooman Aboutalebi-Pour (Toronto);
  • Melissa Bjorgan (Regina);
  • Emadeddin Delavari (Edmonton);
  • Jeffrey Gelmych (Winnipeg);
  • Michael Lukachko (Toronto);
  • Jennifer McAskill (Vancouver);
  • Wanda Melnyk-Harms (Edmonton);
  • Raman Murugappan (Saskatoon);
  • Peter O’Brien (Edmonton);
  • Philip Reynolds (Edmonton);
  • Tim Senkow (Winnipeg);
  • Sean Thompson(Saskatoon);
  • Norman Villeneuve (Edmonton); and
  • Edwin Yu (Toronto).

Further, four members achieved CSC’s newest designation, Certified Specification Practitioner (CSP):

  • Kazim Kanani (Toronto);
  • Ashley McKay (Toronto);
  • Peggy Perry (Vancouver); and
  • Shandra Vedress (Regina).

Finally, Registered Specification Writer (RSW) status was bestowed on the following individuals, who joined the upper echelon of specifiers in the country:

  • Abigail MacEachern (Atlantic);
  • James Mansfield (Toronto);
  • Len O’Connor (Edmonton); and
  • Adam Strachan (Atlantic).

The RSW designation distinguishes those whose knowledge and abilities improve the quality of specifications, and have a commitment to the highest standards of construction documentation.

Survey says
The importance of these certifications is obvious—they are a way not only for individuals to display their desire for continual professional development and improvement, but also for firms to show clients they only hire the best in the industry. (For more on this, see the article, “Industry Designations: Are They Worth It?” by Guillermo Cordero, B. Arch., MRAIC, CTR, BSSO, CSP.)

Having such designations (or those from other groups, like Canada Green Building Council’s [CaGBC’s] LEED AP) might also have a direct impact on salaries. Earlier this year, Construction Canada conducted its annual Salary Survey. As in years past, a good number of participants were members in good standing of CSC. We received responses from CCCAs and CTRs, and from Fellows and RSWs.

When it came to the direct value of having such designations as it relates specifically to salary and position, there was a range of opinion. Overall, when asked, “Do you feel earning these credentials has had a positive impact on your career in terms of promotions?” answers were split fairly evening, leaning slightly to the affirmative.

Tellingly, those that responded “yes,” almost always had designations (or were in the process of registering for the entry-level Principles of Construction Documentation [PCD]). On the other hand, those who said credentials did not matter tended to not have designations themselves.

Survey participants stating a designation had direct positive impact on their paycheque ranged from specifiers in the Prairies to project managers in the Territories and architects in Ontario.

An Albertan project manager, currently in the process of applying for the CCCA, wrote, “I believe anyone who is in the construction industry should be required to take Principles of Construction Documentation and Certified Contract Administrator course as mandatory requirements.”

Praise for designations extended beyond those of CSC. Another survey respondent, a construction specification representative from Saskatchewan, discussed the importance of his Architectural Hardware Consultant (AHC) from the Door Hardware Institute (DHI).

“With my designation, it’s recognized world-wide and very few people actually hold it—there is less than 10 people in my province with this designation. I believe I will always be able to gain employment with my credential. The industry is small, and not well-known as a career choice. Education for the industry primarily runs through DHI and finding others with the knowledge of the industry outside it is difficult.”

However, not everyone was as certain their certifications were critical to career advancement.

A B.C. contract administrator was particularly blunt: “Credentials, in my mind, don’t carry a lot of weight. Your work output shows your potential.”

Nevertheless, the vast majority of those who did not see the direct financial value still cited their benefits in personal growth and credibility—two things that could later contribute to increased recognition.

For example, an RSW and CCCA from Atlantic Canada wrote, “Sometimes a designation helps [to secure raises or promotions], but only so far as it was capable of raising my self-esteem so I had greater presence at work. Otherwise, little is done in Canada—unlike in Great Britain—to promote and support designations’ place in the industry. It is like people have given up trying or only see the designation as an add-on to more important credentials. However—and this is a big ‘however’—I did find the education process extremely valuable and that did impact my career in a positive way.”

In other cases, the value of a certification was positioned as a matter of timing.

A facilities manager in Ontario said, “I don’t think designations mean much this late in my career, but they would have been beneficial 30 years ago.”

A West Coast material supplier agreed, saying, “Yes, in the early years of my career: for sure. It helps develop key relationships.”

This was echoed by an Albertan construction specification representative who wrote, “Yes, very much so. It allows me to retire to part time much earlier due to being able to have a successful sales career enhanced greatly by having the skills and knowledge as well as the networking with the CTR designation.”

A product representative from the same province also felt similarly: “It helps demonstrate to my company I am in it for the longer term and wish to better the industry as a whole.”

For more information on CSC’s education programs, including five-day workshops, weekly classes, and online opportunities, visit

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