The short answer is NO!

Certifying the skills and knowledge of mechanics in many trades has become very popular. This process provides consumers with a method to differentiate the better qualified mechanic from those who simply “think or say” they are. Whether it is the car mechanic who is ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified or the Certified Tile Installer (CTI), the certification entity is extremely important.

In the past, the tile industry has been served well by quality-minded installers who provided consumers with properly installed and long-lasting installations. Unfortunately over time, with no barrier to entry, the talent pool has become populated by both high-quality installers who deserve the work and those of lesser abilities who do not. Hence, it became apparent that certification of installer’s abilities was crucial.

In 2008, the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) initiated the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program, which provided a method to test the knowledge and skills of experienced tile installers. Through this rigorous but fair testing, it was now possible to separate the qualified installer from those who are mediocre at best. The end result is a talent pool giving the consumer a choice – a better choice.

However, there is another critical component of certification; the industry recognition and qualifications of the certifying agency. The TCNA Handbook now contains language which speaks specifically to the requirements of qualified labor in architectural specifications. Under the heading, “Using the TCNA Handbook for Specification Writing,” the Handbook states, “As with all programs, the rigor and credibility of the program must also be considered.  The following nonprofit programs are well-established and recognized by the Handbook Committee (listed alphabetically):

 “Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) Certified Tile Installer Program:CTEF tests hands-on installation skills and knowledge. Installers must achieve the minimum required score on both tests to earn the ‘CTEF Certified Installer’ designation. Contractors that employ CTEF Certified Installers are listed in the CTEF Contractor Directory, inserted in this Handbookand found on the CTEF website. See for more information.”

Also included in this list (and likewise recognized by the Handbook Committee) are: The International Masonry Institute (IMI) Contractor College Program, the Journeyman Tile Layer Apprenticeship Programs, The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractor Program and The Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) Trowel of Excellence Program.

Be certain that the organization you select for your tile installer to achieve certification is a recognized part of the ceramic tile industry. Otherwise, caveat emptor,or “Let the buyer beware.”