Have you noticed the new CTEF logo? It's in two different flavors that both prominently feature the words "Qualified Labor, Certification and Tile Industry Recognized."
These words recognize that the CTEF installer certification programs (i.e., CTI and ACT) are tile industry recognized and define a tile installer with those designations as being ‘Qualified Labor.’
Let's explore in more detail.
What is Qualified Labor?
Qualified labor refers to having the most qualified professional perform the scope of the work you are specifying rather than basing the decision on the lowest price.
Considerable effort has gone into writing proposals and encouraging the architectural and design communities to embrace language to aid in the preparation of job specifications. This language is now a part of the Tile Council of America (TCNA) Handbook. One portion of that section says it all,
“Because tile is a permanent finish, the lowest bid should not be the driving factor, but rather, who is the most qualified to perform the scope of the work specified.”
The Handbook further defines Qualified Labor as being provided by the following non-profit organizations and programs:
- The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT),
- The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF),
- The International Masonry Institute (IMI) Contractor College Program,
- Journeyman Tile Layer Apprenticeship Program,
- The Marble Institute of America (MIA) Accreditation for Natural Stone Tile Installation Contractors,
- The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Five Star Contractors Program,
- The Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA) Trowel of Excellence Program.
These associations and organizations provide the training and education necessary to produce an installer who has the skills and knowledge necessary to be known as Qualified Labor.
Furthermore, you'll find specific language in the Handbook - in a section entitled, “Sample Language for Including Installer and Contractor Qualification in Specifications” - that calls for installer and contractor qualifications and quality assurance based on the training and certifications provided by the recognized entities.
What about CTEF and Certification?
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) provides education and installer certification for professionals working in the ceramic tile and stone industry. As we detailed above, two certification programs identify Qualified Labor: the CTI and the ACT programs.
1. The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Program
The CTEF Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is the only third-party assessment of installer skill and knowledge which is recognized by the tile industry. It offers potential customers with the peace-of-mind that their tile installer has the right skills to complete a successful tile installation the first time.
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.
To qualify for the CTI Program, installers must have at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. This means having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout and sealant materials.
The program includes two separate tests.
- The first is an online open-book exam which is taken at home or the office as the installer’s schedule allows.
- The second is a hands-on test which is conducted at regional locations across the United States. The hands-on portion of the test begins at 7:09 am and must be completed by 4:00 pm. Installers should arrive at 6:30 am in order to get their tools set up and be ready to start the test at 7:09 am.
2. The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) Program
The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) include offers certifications in seven specific areas of tile installation. An installer may choose to become ACT certified in one or more of these areas:
- Large Format Tile & Substrate Preparation
- Mortar (Mud) Floors
- Mortar (Mud) Walls
- Shower Receptors
- Gauged Porcelain Tile and Gauged Porcelain Tile Panels/Slabs
Installers wishing to become ACT certified must be pre-qualified in one of two ways:
- Be a Certified Tile Installer (CTI) through the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation; or
- Be a journeyman tile setter who has successfully completed the apprenticeship program conducted by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
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.
You'll be hearing more about ACT certification.
Tile Industry Recognized Programs
We're very proud that the programs we sponsor - the CTI and ACT programs - are supported by all segments of the ceramic tile industry.
Scott Carothers says it best:
“The new CTEF logo represents an evolution in the mission of the CTEF and in the maturity of the tile installation certification programs that CTEF sponsors. The tile industry is experiencing a significant shortage of qualified labor to properly install ceramic and porcelain products correctly the first time. Only through ongoing training of existing talent as well as enticing high school students to enter the tile trade, will it survive. Our job is to train, certify, and fill the marketplace with enough skilled installers to meet the need.”
Thank you for supporting the CTEF, tile installation certification, and utilizing only qualified labor for your tile installations.