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The Road to Earning a Technical Certification in Concrete

Concrete Technical Certification

This is the second in Gilson's series of blog posts to help you prepare and test for technical certifications. As stated in the first blog, the three most widely-recognized agencies offering concrete certification testing are the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) and the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET).

This post provides specifics on just some of the different concrete technician certifications available through ACI, NRMCA and NICET. Additional information and resources can be found in the first blog post in this series, Construction Materials Testing: 7 Things to Know About Certification.

American Concrete Institute (ACI)

American Concrete Institute (ACI)

The ACI offers many technician certification programs for construction materials testing professionals. Each certification is defined with scope and knowledge required, including specific ASTM test methods and practices; requirements for certification and scoring criteria; recommended study materials; and ACI certification policies for the particular technician designation.

ACI Hands on Testing Applicant demonstrates expertise during an ACI certification performance exam.
Photo credit: American Concrete Institute



The table below highlights four ACI concrete technician certifications.

Designation

ACI
Definition

Required
Experience,
Training/
Certification

Requirements
for
Certification
Recertification

Concrete Field Testing Technician - Grade I

Individual who has demonstrated knowledge and ability to properly perform and record the results of seven basic field tests on freshly mixed concrete. None Passing grade on ACI written examination and successful completion of performance examination; combined score must be 70% minimum. Every 5 years; must pass written & performance exams.

Concrete Strength Testing Technician

Individual with demonstrated knowledge and ability to properly perform, record, and report the results of four basic laboratory procedures related to the determination of concrete compressive and flexural strength. None Passing grade on ACI written examination and successful completion of performance examination; combined score must be 70% minimum. Every 5 years; must pass written & performance exams.

Concrete Laboratory Testing Technician - Level I

Individual who has received concurrent certifications as an ACI Concrete Strength Testing Technician and as an ACI Aggregate Testing Technician - Level I. No experience/ training. Concurrent certifications as Concrete Strength Testing Technician & Aggregate Testing Technician - Level I is required. No exam; certification credentials are automatically issued upon attaining both technician certifications stated in the definition above. Every 5 years; must pass written & performance exams.

Concrete Laboratory Testing Technician - Level II

Individual with demonstrated knowledge and ability to properly perform, record, and report the results of advanced laboratory procedures for aggregates and concrete. ACI CLTT1 certification and at least one year (2,000 hours) of approved work experience, of which up to one-half may be substituted with a minimum of 60 credit hours of verified advanced education. Minimum one-year (2,000 hours) approved work experience or combination of work experience and education, and Currently certified as Concrete Laboratory Testing Technician - Level I, and Passing grade on ACI written examination and successful completion of performance examination; combined score must be 70% minimum. Every 5 years; must pass written & performance exams.
NRMCA

National Ready-Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA)

The NRMCA offers numerous  technician certifications in various designations. Information includes description, scope and knowledge required; certification requirements and study materials; exam information, and re-examination or recertification criteria. The information page also includes a list of approved sponsoring groups throughout the U.S. that offer training and NRMCA-provided certification exams. NRMCA certifications include:

DesignationNRMCA
Description
Required
Experience,
Training/
Certification
Requirements
for
Certification
Recertification

Concrete Field Testing Technician - Grade II

Individual with demonstrated knowledge to understand specifications, terminology and procedures, and to record results of standardized test methods for the standards listed in the scope and knowledge. ACI Concrete Field Testing Technician Grade I required. Current ACI Concrete Field Testing Technician Grade I Certification and a passing grade on NRMCA examination. Every 5 years; must pass written exam and any other existing requirement.

Concrete Technologist - Levels 2, 3 and 4

Individual with demonstrated knowledge and ability to properly perform, record, and report the results of advanced laboratory procedures for aggregates and concrete.
  • Level 2: basic concrete background, proficient at high-school math skills
  • Level 3: Level 2 certification
  • Level 4: Level 3 certification
  • Level 2: minimum 75% passing grade on examination
  • Level 3: minimum 75% passing grade on levels 2 and 3 examinations
  • Level 4: Successfully completing NRMCA Concrete Durability Course exam
Every 5 years; must pass written examination.

Other related NRMCA certifications are:

NICET

National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET)

The NICET provides certification programs for laboratory and field concrete construction professionals with varying skill levels. Specific NICET certification training programs include Construction Materials Testing and Transportation, Highway Materials, both offering a progression of skills-based certifications from Level I to Level IV as shown below. This information in the table is from NICET's Program Detail Manual on Construction Materials Testing … Asphalt, Concrete, Soils and is subject to change by year's end based on modifications to NICET's testing structure as discussed below.

TECHNICIAN PROFILE FOR CERTIFICATION IN CONCRETE TESTING & INSPECTION ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY
Education: No formal education requirements. Program content at Level II and above assumes knowledge and skills based on work and/or educational experiences (college, self-study, correspondence courses, workshops, or field assignments, etc.) that develop knowledge equivalent to courses in construction or civil engineering technology or a closely related Associate Degree program coupled with internships.
DesignationMinimum Work
Experience
Level of
Responsibility
Typical
Activities
Typical Job
Titles
Level I None to very limited work experience in concrete testing, QA/QC, inspection or related activities. Under direct supervision. Performs simple, repetitive, specific tasks, measurements and computations. Document findings.
  • Laboratory Technician I
  • Field Technician I
  • Trainee
Level II Minimum of two years, of which at least one year must involve concrete testing & QA/QC activities. The balance may be in related activities or other related specialties such as construction inspection and/or other materials testing activities. Under general supervision. Perform common laboratory and field acceptance tests. Prepare test reports.
  • Laboratory Technician II
  • Field Technician II
  • QC/QA Technician
Level III Level II work experience plus three additional years. At least three of these years must involve concrete testing & QA/QC as the primary activity. The balance may be in construction and/or other materials testing activities. Under little or no supervision. May supervise others. Conduct common and specialized laboratory and field tests. Maintain records. Offer recommendations.
  • Laboratory Technician III
  • Field Technician III
  • Senior AQ/AC Technician
Level IV Level III work experience plus five additional years of concrete testing & QA/QC experience involving a broad range of complexity and diversity. Independent performance, delegated responsibilities, assign tasks and supervise personnel. Manage projects, oversee specialized laboratory and field tests. Interact with project engineer/manager. Recommend corrective actions.
  • Chief Technician
  • Lab/Field
  • Chief CA/QC Technician

NICET's technician certification process includes passing an exam or exams (Levels I-IV), work experience (Levels I-IV), performance measures (Levels I-IV), personal recommendation (Levels III and IV), and major project write-up (Level IV).

NICET transitioning to new testing format

It's important to note that NICET changed its Work Element (WE) certification format to a standard model Computer Based Testing (CBT) earlier this year. NICET will continue to phase out WE through December 31, 2017 at which point the WE component ends. Individuals who need to retake a certification test, or those who have already taken and passed a NICET certification exam and are now pursuing another certification can still apply and test for WE through the end of the year. However, first-time applicants now test only through the CBT model - and all applicants will do so starting January 1, 2018. Additional information about WE and the concrete standard CBT is available online.

NICET CBT certification exams are taken at Pearson Vue Testing Centers - applicants simply enter their zip code to find the nearest center.

As NICET continues to transition throughout 2017 and roll out all new exams, information will be updated online for the various asphalt, concrete and soils technician certifications, including the application process, content outlines, reference materials, fees, test structure, designations and so on. Information on CBT testing for the concrete program, Level I, Technician Trainee and Level II, Associate Engineering Technician, is already available.

Look to state DOTs or universities for certification programs

State Departments of Transportation may offer technician certifications or partner with area colleges. Check out your state DOT website for information, or do an online search for state universities that offer concrete technician certifications. California's DOT recently announced such a partnership with Cal State Long Beach.

Recertification

Recertification through ACI and NRMCA is every five years, while NICET recertifies every three years. With NICET, technicians do not test, but submit an application, accompanied by a Continuing Professional Development Log, and fee. Keep the following in mind when recertifying:

  • What is the recertification policy and criteria, including renewal date?
  • How much Continuing Professional Development is required?
  • What happens if the certification is lapsed?

Finally, make sure you have the testing agency's current certification materials as the agency, even the industry itself, may have changed criteria, regulations, standards, etc. - and changes can affect certification requirements. The ASTM Manual of Aggregate and Concrete Testing is a good resource.

Don't miss the third blog post in this series, Paving the Way to an Asphalt Certification, coming soon!