Throwback Thursday: December 1992


Dec. 1992Certification.

Does the word make you turn up your nose in disgust or proudly eye those letters following your name on your business card?

The conversation of certification is a longstanding one in the Green Industry—to be certified or not to be certified? That is the question.

Some landscaping professionals say their 30 plus years of experience is a good enough qualification to do their job, whereas others believe being certified is the best way to guarantee a quality service.

Well beyond 20 years ago the topic was being debated. And teetering toward the benefits of certification was the cover story of Landscape Management’s December 1992 issue, titled “Certifying the industry” by Terry McIver, then managing editor.

Take from it what you will.

The topmost benefits of certifications, the article notes, could include:

  • For employees, the incentive of companies offering better pay;
  • For customers, an assurance of a job well done; and
  • For companies, exclusive bidding rights to certain projects.

“In an industry that’s had more than its share of mavericks, certification can be a step forward in establishing uniform professional standards coast-to-coast,” McIver wrote. “Certification testing brings all the landscaping ‘tools’ together. It helps the professional see what kind of progress he’s made and makes sense of all the ‘stuff’ he’s learned over the years.”

Adding to that, Amy Frankmann, director of education for the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association said certification helps to “identify the most dedicated” people in the Green Industry.

And in 1992, those who were “most dedicated” were setting aside upward of $200 to be certified.

The Associated Landscape Contractors of America, which is now a part of the Professional Landcare Network, was charging $225 for its members to test for the title of Certified Landscape Professional; today it charges $300 for members and $400 for nonmembers.

Likewise, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) was charging $100 for members and $150 for nonmembers to test for the title of Certified Arborist; today it charges $250 or $150 for ISA and chapter members.

Additionally, the Texas Association of Landscape Contractors, which is now the Texas Nursery & Landscape Association, was charging $100 for member or $300 for nonmember to test for the title of Certified Landscape Professional; today it charges $125 for member and $250 for nonmembers.

With those price increases in mind, it’s safe to assume organizations are attempting to make certifications more competitive to attain. Or is it that the tests are costing more because mavericks in the Green Industry continue to disbelieve the benefits of certifications as highlighted here?

Let the debate live on.

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