December 19/26, 2016: Volume 31, Number 14
By Scott Carothers
Do you have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis? In our definition, experience refers to having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grouting and sealant materials.
If the answers to those questions are yes, then you should consider becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI). The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship. Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.
The CTI program includes two separate tests. The first is an online, open-book exam taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows. The second is a hands-on test that is conducted at regional locations across the United States. The hands-on portion of the test begins at 7 a.m. and must be completed by 4 p.m. Installers should arrive at 6:30 a.m. in order to get their tools set up and be ready to start at the appointed time.
The CTI program is strictly a test of the installer’s skills and knowledge and offers no instructional classes. However, many installers who have completed the CTI tests have said that reading and studying the written materials was very valuable and also assisted in the completion of the hands-on test. Installers have also said the CTI Manual provided the correct methods for tile installation, which may not have been the way they installed tile in the past. It’s worth noting that the CTI program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge recognized by the tile industry.
The CTI hands-on test is being offered at The International Surfaces event (TISE) 2017 in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Jan. 18, and Thursday, Jan. 19. It is sponsored by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), which provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry.
CTEF also offers the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT). In order to take the ACT certification tests, an installer must be pre-qualified by either being a CTI or a journeyman tile setter who has successfully completed the apprenticeship program conducted by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC).
ACT certification in each area is granted upon successful completion of a written online test designed to measure the installer’s understanding of applicable ANSI specifications and TCNA recommended methods, and a field test conducted by trained, third-party evaluators who assess the installer’s skills under real life conditions.
Registration is easy: Simply visit https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/events, select the test date of your choice, make your payment and wait for your study materials.
Scott Carothers, a 36-year ceramic tile industry veteran, is director of certification and training at CTEF. He is responsible for creating the Certified Tile Installer program and is involved in creating the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers program and providing training to others. He has served as president of the NTCA, chairman of the NTCA Technical Committee and was named NTCA Tile Person of the Year in 2005 and Ring of Honor recipient in 2013.