Are you a tile contractor? Do you have at least two years of experience as a full-time lead tile installer? By experience, we mean that you have full responsibility for substrate prep, and layout, along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grout, and sealant materials.
If yes, consider becoming a Certified Tile Installer (CTI).
The CTI program is the only third-party assessment of a tile installation professional’s skill and knowledge that is recognized by the tile industry. By taking the CTI tests, you validate your skills and knowledge; it truly sets you apart as a successful installer of tile.
You set yourself apart as Qualified Labor.
What is Qualified Labor?
Qualified labor refers to having the most qualified professional perform the scope of the work being specified rather than basing the decision on the lowest price. Because tile is a permanent finish, the lowest bid should not be the driving factor for hiring a tile installer, but rather, who is the most qualified to perform the work.
From a technical perspective, qualified labor means having successfully demonstrated a tile installer's skills that meet tile industry standards and best practices. That is the basis and focus of the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program.
Certified Tile Installers routinely demonstrate the knowledge, skill, experience, time management abilities, and other traits needed to produce high-quality, long-lasting, successful installations using tile industry standards and methods along with time-tested proven best practices which are in place in the United States.
How Certification for Tile Installers Got Started
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) launched the CTI program in 2008. The reason: to provide a means for good, knowledgeable tile contractors to verify their skills and promote themselves to potential clients and employers.
At the same time, the program addresses a significant opportunity in the marketplace:
- It provides consumers with a mechanism for identifying the level of proficiency of prospective tile installers for their upcoming projects. That's why the CTEF website includes a zip code locator for CTIs along with an alpha listing making it easy for consumers to access the most qualified installer.
- That in turn encourages them to use only the best-qualified installers, ensuring that their tile projects are installed correctly from the beginning, and look beautiful for years to come.
Comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers
The CTI program is a comprehensive skills and knowledge testing of experienced and quality-oriented tile installers which includes a multiple-choice written exam and a hands-on test based on current industry standards and best practices. The combination produces a sound installation that exhibits long-lasting, good workmanship that will look great for many years to come.
The tests, therefore, require that both the observable and non-observable characteristics of a finished installation are executed properly.
Certification means that truly talented and qualified installers can compete against low-cost incompetent installation which has become all too common in today's marketplace.
>> How Not to Install Tile on Floors, Walls, and in Showers
Details on the CTI Program
As we mentioned above, the CTI program includes two separate tests.
- An online open-book knowledge exam consisting of 155 multiple choice or true/false questions which must be completed in four hours.
- The hands-on test which is completed in regional warehouses across the United States. It actually begins the day before with a brief, but thorough late-afternoon CTI Orientation. Immediately following the Orientation, testing installers have the opportunity to get their tools in place and set up. On test day, installers arrive by 6:30 am to get acclimated, focused, and ready to begin the test. The test begins promptly at 7:09 am and must be completed by 4:00 pm.
CTI Program Cost
The registration fee for the CTI Test is $495 per installer.
To further reduce the financial burden on the installer, several tile industry manufacturers have provided Coupons which, when used to their fullest level, can eliminate the cost of one day’s lost wages and the cost of registration. A true win-win deal for all involved.
Once you register, the study materials go out that same day to your home or office which gives you the ability to begin your studies quickly.
Study materials include the Certified Tile Installer Manual, with the relevant ANSI Specifications, and the TCNA Handbook.
>> ANSI Standards: A Tile Installer's Best Friend!
>> The TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation
You’ll receive everything needed to take both the online and hands-on tests, including access to online videos.
Scheduling Your CTI Hands-on Test
When you’re ready to become a CTI, go to the events page on the CTEF website. Scroll down to find the date and location most convenient for you.
If you aren't sure when to register for the Hands-on portion of the Certified Tile Installer program, you can register for the online CTI event, complete the written portion and then contact CTEF Administrative Assistant, Cathey McAlister via email to let her know which CTI event you will attend.
A Passing Grade for the CTI Program is 85% or Higher
You’ll get your results once the hands-on evaluation sheets are tabulated and combined with your online test score. A passing grade is 85% or higher.
If you need to retake one or both tests, you can do so at a reduced cost.
Explore these resources
You can learn about the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Program in this 2:31-minute video:
You can also explore the Frequently Asked Questions about certification.
Don't forget these additional resources:
>> Read through Becoming a Certified Tile Installer: What's Involved?
>> See Video Details Hands-on Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Test
>> See Grading the Toughest 25 Square Feet of Tile You'll Ever Install (Video)
>> Learn what it takes to become a CTI
>> Discover 5 Benefits of Being a Certified Tile Installer
>> Explore the Qualified Labor Series on the CTEF Blog
Ready to become a Certified Tile Installer?
Ready to become a Certified Tile Installer? If you have experience and are ready to demonstrate your skill and knowledge, we urge you to become certified and register for the program.
If you have questions, please let us know in the comments.
Note: We originally published this article on May 31, 2016, and have updated it.