By Michael Becker
Winning bids, impressing customers, earning the respect of crews and employers — these are just a few of the potential benefits of becoming certified.
I was originally motivated to go for the manager certification for my own personal benchmarking, and to determine if I had the right knowledge to operate a business. I was nervous going into the test because I was the technician who started a company, and it took me a few years of making that transition before I was ready to take the Landscape Industry Certified Manager test.
Now I am constantly looking for educational units to recertify, and it is the basis of my continued education, keeping me up to date on current industry standards, business climate and company well-being. The entire certification program is instrumental in my personal growth and development as a leader and business owner.
Everyone has their own reason for pursuing certification. Whatever the motivating factor, it’s important to have a game plan backed by drive and commitment. Here are some steps I recommend to getting and staying certified, as well as promoting your well-earned asset:
1. Research. Take the time to review the certifications that the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) offers. Talk to those who are certified. Make a list of questions and talk to the certification staff about the differences between the programs, and determine what best fits your job, and meets your current and long-term personal and professional goals.
If you are an owner or supervisor and want to get your staff certified, make sure you select the test that best aligns with the person’s job. Here’s a current list of PLANET certifications to review and choose from:
Landscape Industry Certified Manager (formerly CLP)
Landscape Industry Certified Technician Exterior (formerly CLT-E)
Landscape Industry Certified Interior Technician (formerly CLT-I)
Landscape Industry Certified Horticultural Technician (formerly COLP)
Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Manager (formerly CTP)
Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician National (NEW exam)
Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician (formerly CTP-CSL)
2. Prepare. Once you’ve selected and signed up for the exam that best meets your needs, preparation is the key. The intensity of a testing environment is a challenge for anyone, especially candidates who do not have a solid skill set.
All PLANET exams are self-study. Study any recommended material thoroughly. Don’t try to cram the night before. Ensure employees are familiar with all materials. If any training sessions are offered, consider attending or setting up training and practice sessions. If you’re already certified, consider being a coach or mentor to your colleagues or employees.
3. Maintain. Once you’ve passed and earned your certification, you must maintain it to keep it. Recertification is a major component of certification programs, and is considered a best practice across the certification industry. Continued education is essential to understanding and staying on top of changes in the green industry. To retain your certification, you must accumulate 24 CEUs every two years and report these CEUs to PLANET. There are many opportunities to earn CEUs, from attending online and on-site educational events to reading, writing, and presenting green industry or job-related information.
4. Promote. Remember that I started this article by saying how certification can make you and your company more attractive and more in demand. You’ll stand out, but not if you keep it a secret. It’s up to certified individuals and companies with certified staff to do everything they can to promote their Landscape Industry Certified status. Otherwise, you’re sitting on what could be your best selling point.
PLANET gives you an online toolkit with logos, template press release, bid language, customizable consumer brochure, and other promotional items. Use these resources.
For more information on becoming Landscape Industry Certified, contact the PLANET certification staff at 800-395-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org Certification frequently asked questions are located in the Certification Center at www.LandcareNetwork.org
[ital>Michael Becker is a Landscape Industry Certified Manager and has been involved in the landscape industry since the early 1980s. He is the owner of Estate Gardeners Inc., in Elkhorn, Nebraska, and is the chair of PLANET’s International Certification Council.<ital]