What is the big deal about
Being certified is just about passing a test, right? If you can pass the test, surely that is proof that you are worthy of being certified, right? And as long as there are no obvious and easy ways to cheat, surely the examination process is adequate, right?
As the owner of two organizations that provide training and accredited certification, I have a different opinion that I would like to share. So yes, I am biased, but we have done things the hard way for very good reasons (and the ISO is on my side – or should I say, I am on their side).
To train or not to train, that is the first question Not that it is specifically related to the accreditation process, but people often ask why training is required to be certified by Mobius Institute.
First, the condition monitoring standards (ISO 18436) defined by the International Standards Organization (ISO) require that training is completed. They define the topics that must be covered and the duration of the training. But even the Asset Reliability Practitioner (ARP) certification requires training, and it is not part of the condition monitoring standards.
The reason the ISO choose to require training, and why the author agrees with that decision, is because an exam can only cover a limited set of questions - it is hoped that a person who is certified would have much broader and deeper knowledge. Although there are typically 100 questions on an exam, it is impossible to test on every single subject. And on most exams, you only have to get 70% of the questions correct.
Therefore, we believe that a person who is certified should have been educated in a structured manner to a healthy level of depth on all of the relevant topics – not just know enough to get by. The exam "simply" ensures that they understand certain facts, concepts, and principles and can apply their knowledge.
Should you need experience to be certified?
Again, the ISO condition monitoring standards require that candidates meet certain experience requirements which must be independently verified. For example, an ISO 18436-2 Category II vibration analyst must have 18 months of experience before they can be certified.
But again, if you can pass the exam why do you need to prove that you have experience? In the author’s opinion, the requirement to have experience not only ensures that certified personnel can deliver greater value, but it also adds weight to the meaning of being certified.
If a person is smart enough, they can learn just enough to get through the exam potentially without ever having tested a machine or visited an industrial site. An employer or consulting client should have some confidence that a certified person has at least a minimum level of competence. Verified experience provides that confidence.
Can’t the exam be written so that only competent people can pass?
There are certainly those who believe that is true, but the author is not one of them.
First, when most exams have a 70% pass grade, any questions that do require experience do not even need to be answered correctly. But you may like to try to think of an exam question, that has four multiple choice options, that only a person with experience can answer correctly, without there being any requirement to work in any specific industry (i.e., you can’t ask a question about paper mill reliability, or a question specific to mining). And if you can come up with such a question, well done, now you only have to write 99 more before the exam is ready to go.
So no, even though we ensure that our exams are as practical as possible (i.e., not just calculations, recognition of acronyms and definitions, etc.) I do not believe that only a person with genuine experience can pass.
What is the difference between accredited and non-accredited certification?
In short, accredited certification has been audited by an independent, Government approved entity that ensures that what the certificationbody does is fair, independent, and that it meets all of the requirements.
While there are standards like ISO 18436 that define how condition monitoring certification works, there are many certification programs that are not specifically defined by the ISO. ARP, CMRP, CRL, and CRE are all such programs.
Rather than defining every last detail of how every single certification program should operate, a standard has been developed, ISO/IEC 17024, that defines the core elements that every personnel certification program must meet. Accreditation bodies such as ANSI, JAS-ANZ, and UKAS can then audit certification bodies such as the Mobius Institute Board of Certification (MIBoC) and SMRP to ensure that everything is clean and aboveboard.
When a new certification program is defined it must be approved by the accreditation organization. It will then be audited every six months for the first two years minimum and then every 12 months thereafter.
They check everything.
They randomly select a large number of certified candidates and ensure they were trained correctly, examine correctly, they meet the experience requirements, and much more. They also ensure that our personnel follow all procedures, that we have an effective quality control process in place, and that everything we do in relation to the examination process meets the highest standards. That is why we video record people taking exams, there must be invigilator’s, we have exam databases, and much more.
I could easily make this an extremely long, detailed, (and boring) article by explaining all of the details behind our committees, examination development and statistical analysis, and much more - but I will save you from the detail. Let us just say that no stone is left unturned to ensure that everything is done correctly.
As a business owner, there are numerous situations where decisions must be made in line with the certification and accreditation requirements versus decisions that would lead to greater revenue and profit. But that is the way it needs to be if certification is to be respected by those who are certified and those who wish to employ certified personnel. So yes, accreditation matters.
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