Here’s the simple truth. While becoming certified is a valuable process because of what you learn in the process, no one would suggest that being certified by either CSIA, NFI, or anyone else makes you an expert in this industry. Why? Because truthfully, the knowledge one must accumulate through experience, continuous education and training, and simply doggedly and persistently digging deeper into the information that is out there about this industry, is, more than anything, what eventually makes you into an expert. It requires persistence and diligence, and there are no shortcuts. Being an expert requires you to forever be a student!
Why? There is a mountain of information out there about all aspects of fireplaces, chimneys, fuels, draft, metals, heating appliances, weather, water, masonry, flashing, pressure, diagnosis, and combustion, that needs to be taken in, digested and understood to attain the level of expert. And this list is just the starting point.
To delve even further, an important part of the role of a technician must be to inspect, but expertise must be developed beyond that point to where each can possess the knowledge to not only insect, but also to diagnose, and in this one must be to step beyond does it meet codes and standards, the expert must be able to also diagnose and even make scientific based predictions as to the short and long term effect of the issue noted in the inspection, and able to develop a strategy for resolution that is more than simply preparing a repair quotation.
Yet, I would guess quite a lot of us who have not delved into the depths of chimney lore, who have not gone beneath the surface of cleaning and inspecting, etc. think of and present ourselves as experts. And that’s fine. It happens all the time in every field. The tendency to overestimate our real abilities is pretty common to all humans.
However, because so much is at stake in this industry, we must at least be able to acknowledge that there is much more to learn than the basics required for certification to be a true expert. We must be willing to always, always take any and every opportunity to broaden our knowledge base. And we must teach others to do the same. Why would we ever be willing to allow even our employees, the techs that represent us in the field every day, to limit their knowledge or let it stagnate?
Because the thing about seeking expertise is, no matter how arcane some of the finer points of this industry can be, you never really know when knowledge of those finer points may be the difference between giving good advice and the sorely needed expert advice that could preserve someone’s health, safety and welfare of both their loved ones and their property. In the venting industry, as in any calling worthy to be called a profession, the more you know, the more valuable you become to your customers, your employees, and yourself.
Which is exactly why, at CVC Success Group, we make it our business to develop expertise and industry experts. It’s our mission and goal. It’s what we do every day to create the added value to make and sustain this industry’s ability to always be a cut above. In this line of work, being second best is not an option.