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May/June 2011

ASTM Launches Personnel Certificate Program

New Initiative Paves Way for Personnel Certification Programs

People at deskPersonnel certificates offer a variety of benefits for individuals and industries. ASTM International now offers a personnel certificate program system, which will facilitate the creation of certificate programs for the many industries covered by ASTM committees. Two of those committees — D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, and E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action — are currently in the process of implementing programs.

Continued training in one’s area of expertise is an essential aspect of professional growth. Certificate programs, in which formal training is often followed by an assessment of learning outcomes, can be an integral part of tracking the professional development of personnel. Certificates issued through such programs provide verifiable evidence of completed training for both service providers and their customers.

ASTM International now sponsors and administers a personnel certificate program that allows ASTM committees to create programs that cater to specific needs in their industry. While many of ASTM’s 142 technical committees are quite diverse, the new initiative is dedicated to providing each committee with the resources needed to design personnel certificate programs that will best suit that particular committee.

No matter how a committee approaches a personnel certificate program, the commonality that each individual program shares is that professionals would earn a certificate for participating in a learning event or series of events designed to educate or train individuals to achieve specified learning outcomes within a defined scope. The ASTM personnel certificate program provides the following:

  • Gives consumers a basis for evaluating service providers;
  • Helps employers judge the skills of existing or potential employees;
  • Allows certificate holders to differentiate themselves from others in their profession or advance their careers;
  • Fosters increased recognition of a profession;
  • May assist regulatory agendas; and
  • Includes a listing in the ASTM Directory of Certificate Holders.

Initiating a Personnel Certificate Program

ASTM technical committees or representatives from industry can request the initiation of a personnel certificate program. Trade or professional associations, manufacturers, purchasers and government entities are also eligible to request a certificate program.

Once a request has been made, ASTM International, with input from the proper technical committee and key stakeholders, will determine whether or not there is sufficient interest from industry to pursue a program. Support from a relevant ASTM committee, industry and trade groups is necessary for ASTM to consider creating a certificate program.

Anthony Buonicore, managing director, Buonicore Partners LLC, and a member of ASTM Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action, says two elements are key to a successful certificate program:

  • A voluntary examination, taken by participants who attended the training course. Those who pass the exam are issued a certificate.
  • A publicly accessible and searchable ASTM database of certificate holders. This database would allow anyone in the industry to confirm that a service provider does indeed hold a certificate. People who elected not to take the exam or who took the exam but failed would receive a certificate stating that they attended the class but would not be listed in the database.

Both of these elements would be included in a certificate program administered by ASTM.

An ASTM Standard Leads the Way

ASTM’s certificate program is based on E2659, Practice for Certificate Programs, developed by ASTM Committee E36 on Accreditation and Certification.

“We are structuring our certificate programs per the requirements of ASTM E2659. The certificate program is a natural extension of our Technical and Professional Training Program where an individual participates in a learning event or series of events designed to assist him or her in achieving specified learning outcomes within a defined scope,” says Scott Murphy, director, ASTM education services and personnel certification programs.

“E2659 is significant because it provides certificate program developers like ASTM guidance for quality program development and administration,” says Mickie Rops, Mickie Rops Consulting Inc., and an E36 member who has been involved in the development and maintenance of the standard. “Prior to the standard’s release there was no such guidance available.”

Rops says it can be challenging for end users to distinguish a certificate earned through the focused learning and outcomes-based evaluation of a certificate program from one granted through other means (such as through certification or through certificate of completion or participation programs). E2659 provides a clear definition of what a certificate program is and is not, and outlines in simple, direct language what the key distinguishing factors are between certification, certificate programs and certificates of attendance/participation.

D02 Test Monitoring Center Program

The Test Monitoring Center, a program of ASTM International, with the help of Committee D02 on Petroleum Products and Lubricants, has created a certificate program for their workshop attendees.

Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., the Test Monitoring Center provides benchmarking testing, laboratory inspection and reference oil distribution for the automotive lubricant industry. The Test Monitoring Center administers workshops to assess the performance of automobile lubricants by studying auto parts that have been treated with lubricants to be tested.

The new certificate program will be used by the Test Monitoring Center to assess the participants who run the auto parts testing in these workshops.

E50 Personnel Certificates

In addition to D02, ASTM Committee E50 is in the process of implementing a personnel certificate program. According to Buonicore, in June 2010 he proposed that E50 pursue a certificate program for training in one of its standards. The E50 executive committee decided to beta test a certificate program using Buonicore’s training courses on E2600, Guide for Vapor Encroachment Screening on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions.

Students registering for the E2600 course were notified of the beta test and offered the opportunity to participate and take the optional exam. Most students did take the exam and felt that adding the aspects of a personnel certificate program to the E2600 course would enhance the quality of practitioners providing E2600 services.

Buonicore says that the results of the E2600 beta testing were successful, with the certificate program receiving positive feedback from those taking the E2600 course, and E50 is now in the process of more formally establishing the E2600 certificate program.

Learn More

For further questions about ASTM International’s personnel certificate program, contact Scott Murphy (phone: 610-832-9685), or go to ASTM's certification programs online.