WQA’s new education program offers mentorship & online learning
The Water Quality Assn. (WQA) has established a new modular education program (MEP) that will be required prior to taking certification tests for all certification categories moving forward. This program lends new credibility not only to the industry in general, but also to the certifications themselves, as it requires individuals to work in the field and get experience with test kits and working with customers and their companies’ service departments.
Moving forward, professionals who currently hold CWS-I through CWS-IV designations will be designated simply as CWS. Those with CWS-V and CWS-VI certifications will be grandfathered into a new designation, Master Water Specialist (MWS). The CI designation will remain the same, but CSR will be given a new designation: Certified Water Representative (CWR). CSTs will have the ability to work toward the new, more advanced designation of Master Service Technician (MST).
In the past, professionals seeking certification simply could take the test of their choice and, if they passed, they were certified. I have personal experience with this, as I became certified as a CWS-I after only three months in the industry. I had not seen a softener other than my own, and had not been in any customers’ homes. I simply studied the books and took the CWS-I course offered by Moti-Vitality LLC. I also took Moti-Vitality’s CI course, and passed the CI test a few months later. I did this without ever cutting a pipe or sizing a system. Although I had the same certifications as someone with years of experience in the water treatment industry, my knowledge would pale in comparison to their practical expertise and overall experience.
This is what the MEP is designed to eliminate, in addition to offering a guided program for people who are either new to the water treatment industry, or who have experience and decide they want to become certified. The MEP also incorporates a Knowledge Base to enable studying and learning the required information.
Each person seeking certification is required to have a mentor to ensure the answers given to questions in the modules are correct and make sense practically. A mentor can be a colleague at the individual’s company or another company, or another industry expert. Mentors must be approved by WQA.
The mentor feature is advantageous because it allows an experienced professional to directly work with and guide the individual seeking certification (referred to by WQA as “learners”). The mentor is responsible for reviewing certain MEP modules and approving them. A comments section is available so the mentor and learner can communicate directly within the MEP. This feature can be beneficial if the mentor and learner work for the same company, because it allows the experience to be maximized based on that company’s practices, thus reducing training time. It also is helpful if the mentor and learner work for different companies, as a direct means of communication that allows them to avoid more time-consuming e-mails or phone calls.
A mentor can monitor several people at the same time, which can be useful, especially if the learners work for different companies or have different roles within one company. One learner may be seeking CWS and another, CI. Information about each of the mentor’s learners is displayed to the mentor on one screen, making approving and commenting on work efficient.
As state and local governments begin to look at licensing for water treatment system installation, the MEP provides a means by which to satisfy requirements without additional government training, as it forces learners to work in the field and truly know their craft. To become an MWS or MST, for example, the learner must have five years of active fieldwork experience. Such requirements lend added credibility to the certification.
Visit the WQA website at www.wqa.org for a full explanation of requirements and processes for the new MEP. The program is positive for the industry, as it forces professionals to hold themselves to even higher standards, and will translate into water quality issues solved correctly and efficiently, ultimately leading to more satisfied customers. WQP