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Frequently Asked Questions About Certification

Have Questions About Tile Certification?

FAQs about tile certificationHere's where we share answers!

We've listed here frequently asked questions about the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation's certification programs.

If your question isn't listed here, please let us know! Use the Contact Us form and we'll get back to you as well as include your question in this list.

FAQs About Tile Certification

Read through the list of FAQs about tile certification and click on the question that is of particular interest to you.

You can also explore the Qualified Labor Series on the CTEF Blog.

Questions About Certification

What is tile certification?

Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.

>> See Tile Installation Certification in Action

>> See What's the Certified Tile Installer Program?

What certifications does CTEF Offer?

CTEF offers two tile installation certification programs:

  • The Certified Tile Installer Program (CTI)

>> To learn more about the CTI program, visit the Certified Tile Installer Program.

The Certified Tile Installer Program (CTI)

  • Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT)

To take the ACT certifications, you must be pre-qualified by either being a CTI or a journeyman tile setter who has successfully completed the apprenticeship program conducted by the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers

 >> To learn more about the ACT Program, visit Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers.



Questions About the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Program

Is the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program a training program?

 No.  The CTI program is strictly a test of the installer’s skills and knowledge and offers no instructional classes.  

However, many installers who have completed the CTI tests have said that reading and studying the written materials was very valuable and also assisted in the completion of the hands-on test.  Installers have also said that the CTI Manual provided the correct methods for tile installation which may not have been the way they installed tile in the past.

>> See Ensure Proper Tile Installation: Become a Certified Tile Installer

For someone considering the tile trade, becoming a CTI is a valuable goal to work toward.

>> Have You Considered the Tile Trade Instead of College?

Who should register for the Certified Tile Installer Program?

 Any installer may take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams if he or she has at least two years of experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. Experience as a helper, improver, grouter, or finisher does not qualify for the two-year recommendation.

Experience is defined as having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing underlayment, tile, grouting, and sealant materials.

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.

Our grading procedure allows very little latitude for technical errors or aesthetic flaws, as we pledge to uphold certification as a meaningful symbol that consumers can trust. Typically, three to five years of tile setting experience is recommended to attain the knowledge and skills required.

>> Visit the Certified Tile Installer Program for more information.

What if an installer does not install tile full-time?

A: If an installer isn't installing tile on a full-time basis, the two-year recommendation applies, though more total years of installation are required to make up for the percentage of time not setting tile. For example, an installer who installs ceramic tile about 33% of the time should have six years of this experience.

Experience is defined as having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing tile and underlayment materials.

While we encourage all qualified and interested individuals to take advantage of the certification program, we offer a friendly caution to those who have not been setting tile for the minimum amount of time.

  • In order to maintain the integrity of the CTI certification program, CTEF evaluators require strict attention to even the smallest of details.
  • The installer must prove he or she can competently execute all phases of installation and consistently produce finished work that is functionally sound and exhibits a high level of workmanship that will satisfy the most discriminating clients.

The grading procedure allows very little latitude for technical errors or aesthetic flaws, as CTEF pledges to uphold certification as a meaningful symbol that consumers can trust. Typically, three to five years of tile setting experience is recommendation to attain the knowledge and skills required.

>> Visit the Certified Tile Installer Program for more information.




What is involved in the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test?

The CTI test 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 completed in a regional warehouse, normally close to the installer’s residence.
How much does it cost to take the CTI tests?

The registration cost is $529 per installer. Registration covers both the online and hands-on tests. 

Note that if you don't provide CTEF written notice via email within 2 weeks of the test date that you won't be present you will be subject to a $200 rescheduling fee.

Are there scholarships available to cover the cost of the tests?

No, but the installers who successfully pass both the online and hands-on tests, will receive a packet that includes manufacturer coupons valued at over $1,000

These manufacturers see the value in the CTI program which provides the tile industry and the consumer with better-quality tile installations and better qualified tile installers.

Will these coupons really pay me back for my investment in taking the CTI tests?

Yes.  If the installer uses all of the coupons’ value of $1,000 minus the cost of registration ($529), minus one day's wages for the hands-on test day (average $300), each installer can put $171 in his or her pocket. 

“It Really Pay$ 2 B Certified.”

Are these coupons really valuable or are there a lot of strings attached to redeem them?

There are no strings attached.  Some of the coupons are used like cash when paying an invoice, while others are for products that are used in daily tile installation.  

Questions About the CTI Tests

How do I register for the CTI test?

To register for the Certified Tile Installer test, click on Register for Training and Certification.

You can also call Cathey McAlister at the CTEF office at 864-222-2131. 

Once the registration is completed with either a VISA or MasterCard, the study materials will be shipped via FedEx the same day.  Registration may also be paid with a check, but the delivery of the study books will be delayed until the check has been processed.


How can I prepare for the CTI test?

To prepare, consider going through CTEF's free online prep course. It's an 8-video online program that offers a lot of perspective, including on time management.

What is included in the study materials?

Each installer will receive the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Manual, which includes the relevant ANSI Specifications, and the TCNA Handbook.  

>> See The TCNA Handbook for Ceramic, Glass, and Stone Tile Installation

>> See ANSI Standards: A Tile Installer's Best Friend!

Also included with the books are directions for logging onto the online test site with a personalized link and password, a list of tools to bring to the hands-on test, the layout instructions for the hands-on test and a sample evaluations sheet that shows how the installed work will be evaluated.


What is the online knowledge (written) test?

The online knowledge test is open-book and consists of 155 questions which are a combination of multiple choice and true/false.  The test may be taken at home or in the office as the installer’s schedule allows.

How much time is allowed to complete the online test?

Each installer is provided with four hours to take the online test.  The average completion time is less than two hours.  This test, however, must be completed at one time.  The installer is not able to time out and then log back in at a later time.

How long is the hands-on test?

The hands-on portion of the test begins at 7:09 am and must be completed by 4:00 pm.

Installers should arrive on test day at 6:30 am to get set up and be ready to start the test at 7:09 am.  

The day before the hands-on test, an Orientation will be provided [normally 4:00 pm, but may vary by site] to fill out the test documents, review the test program, and allow installer questions to be answered.  Tools should be delivered and will be set up immediately after the Orientation which will save time on test day.


>> See Video Details Hands-on Certified Tile Installer (CTI) Test

>> See Grading the Toughest 25 Square Feet of Tile You'll Ever Install (Video)

Will I be able to use a cell phone, angle grinder, or circular saw at the test site?

 No. Cell phones, angle grinders, and circular saws are not permitted at the test site.  These items must be left in your vehicle.

What if I don’t pass one or both of the tests?

Each installer is allowed to retake one or both tests, if needed, at a reduced cost.  The online portion of the test may be taken at any time.  The hands-on test may be taken at a test site that is convenient for the installer.

Will the installer be given the results of each test as soon as it is completed?

No.  The CTI program is a combination of the online knowledge exam and the hands-on test and is a pass/fail.  The hands-on evaluation sheets must be tabulated and combined with the score of the online knowledge exam to determine the final score.  A passing grade is 85% or higher. Installers will be notified within seven business days.

How does the CTI hands-on test change over time?

The CTI hands-on test evolves for several reasons such as:

  • Availability of supplies and materials
  • Changes in methods and standards

To learn more, read:

>> From Bullnose to Metal Transition Profiles: CTI Hands-On Test Evolves

Questions About Promoting Being a Certified Tile Installer

How can I promote myself once I become a CTI?

Installers who pass the written and practical hands-on exams receive the following packet of marketing tools that will provide consumers, architects, designers, and contractors a recognizable standard of expertise:

>> Read 5 Benefits of Being a Certified Tile Installer

>> See The Future Looks Bright for Certified Tile Installers: Installation Summit 2016

>> Visit the Certified Tile Installer Program for more information. 

We invite you to read through the Qualified Labor series on the CTEF Blog to learn more about how CTIs promote themselves and their business once they become CTIs.


Is there a release format I can use to promote the CTI?

The NTCA marketing committee has developed a press release template for getting the word out about becoming a Certified Tile Installer.  

Once you download it, replace the yellow highlighted sections with your own information, then share the news with the organizations you belong to and your local papers.

>> Download the CTI press release template.

Questions About the ACT Certifications

How does an installer wanting to become ACT Certified become pre-qualified?-

Installers wishing to become ACT certified must be pre-qualified in one of two ways:

 >> To learn more about the ACT Program, visit Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers.




How many of the 9 ACT tests do you need to take to receive an ACT Certification?

ACT Certifications are individual certifications on each of the 9 modules.

For instance, an installer may only focus on B415 shower receptor and LFT installations and can focus on only gaining those two certifications.

All of the ACT certifications require the installer to be a CTI or BAC Journeyman *except* Membranes and Grouts, as those two disciplines are typically performed by finishers, so a finisher may only have those two.

We foresee that an installer would prefer to have all of them, which shows the installer’s commitment to being the best in their craft, but it isn’t a requirement to get individual certifications.


If your certification frequently asked questions aren't listed here, please click here to let us know! Thanks.

The CTI program has been an asset to us in our business and, as far as we are concerned, the more qualified you are the better off you are!!

Arsenio Blanco
Custom Tile & Marble, Inc.
 Arsenio was the first tile contractor to pass the CTI in Miami-Dade County when the program first began.
He has close to 40 years of experience in the tile industry. 

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