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Up to date: A preview of the updated Certified Irrigation Contractor exam

December 12, 2018 -  By
Irrigation sprayhead (Photo: iStock.com/MariuszBlach)

Stay Fresh The updated Certified
Irrigation Contractor exam will help irrigators stay on top of the most up-to-date techniques. (Photo: iStock.com/MariuszBlach)

To remain fresh and relevant to the changing industry, the Irrigation Association (IA) Certification Board has updated the exam content outline for the landscape Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) exam. The revised exam will launch during the 2018 Irrigation Show and Education Conference taking place Dec. 3-7 in Long Beach, Calif.

“It’s important to perform exam updates to keep the test relevant to any changes in the industry, as well as to ensure the certification exams are legally defensible,” says Corinne Butler, professional development director for the IA.

Butler spoke with LM about the revised exam and how irrigation contractors can best prepare for certification.

Q: What inspired the change to the exam?

A: In order to ensure the exam content is current with the trends and job responsibilities in the industry, a job task analysis was conducted and finalized in June 2018. Irrigation contractors were surveyed in October 2017 regarding the importance and frequency of their job responsibilities. The results of the survey and analysis led to a revised exam content outline.

The primary purpose of a job task analysis in certification is to determine the nature and emphasis of the exam content. By linking exam content to a job analysis, the exam gains content validity, which is the most important trait of a high-stakes exam. The ranking of combined frequency and criticality means comparing the content items that are deemed most and least important based on the professional experience and expertise of the survey respondents. Domain emphasis is then determined by the number of content items and their relative importance.

Q: What is new about this exam?

A: As a result of the job task analysis, the primary domains of the exam have remained the same. However, the subdomains, or subcategories, have expanded. The exam has six main categories, each with a number of subcategories. For example, under the main exam category of “Irrigation Design,” the exam content outline drills down into further detail among eight subdomains, such as “Educate Client,” “Perform Site Analysis” and “Determine Point of Connection.”

Q: Can you provide an example of something in the new exam versus the old exam?

A: The updated exam will introduce new items for beta testing. Of the 150 questions on the exam, a few questions will be introduced that have never appeared on previous exam forms. The new items will not be scored and will not statistically alter the quality of the exam, but they will allow us to gather results data that can then be further analyzed for performance of each new question.

Q: How can contractors best prepare for this exam?

A: The CIC exam is considered self-study. It’s recommended that candidates review the exam specifications and exam content outline found on pages 36-40 of the certification candidate handbook. Additional exam study resources, including a formula sheet, are available on the Irrigation Association website.

Q: What are the benefits of becoming certified?

A: There are a number of benefits that come with getting certified. One is credibility. Becoming certified means a contractor has demonstrated performance as an effective steward of land and water resources. Certification also connects contractors to the EPA WaterSense Program, which promotes water-efficient products, programs and practices to protect future water supplies. CICs qualify to use the EPA WaterSense labeling program logo and are listed in the EPA’s directory of certified professionals. Lastly, certification provides professionals with increased job opportunities and raises the bar for the CIC’s professional image, as well as the image of the industry.

Q: What steps can a contractor take to become certified?

A: Steps for becoming a CIC are outlined on our website (Irrigation.org). Contractors should first register for the exam. We recommend participants have at least three years of irrigation-related field experience before taking the exam. They then must pass the exam. The exam includes 150 equally weighted, multiple choice questions on irrigation design, installation and scheduling; water management and conservation; maintenance and repair; federal laws and codes; and general business management. Candidates have 3.5 hours to complete the exam.

After passing the exam, they have to agree to comply with the Code of Ethics established by the IA Certification Board. This requires them to, among other things, uphold the integrity of the irrigation industry; protect public health and safety; and comply with all local, state and national laws and regulations. Then they must make sure to remain in good standing by submitting 20 continuing education units per two-year cycle and paying an annual renewal fee.

About the Author:

Emily Schappacher is a freelance writer based in Cleveland.

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