Whither Certification?
Certification and licensure are important components of any profession. They establish standards for the knowledge base. A standardized knowledge base allows individuals to evaluate the quality of workmanship they receive or deliver. They also can be used as screening tools when considering a job applicant.

Job proficiency, however, is not solely dependent on licensure or certification. It is almost always dependent on individual characteristics. To be successful in any endeavor, the holders of certificates or licenses still have to demonstrate their abilities. There is always the need to demonstrate their understanding of how this standardized knowledge base can be applied. Individual differences, varying institutional needs, situations and conditions, and how this knowledge is understood and interpreted, will determine whether there will be imperfections in application.

During recruitment, although some institutions may prefer to hire a certified individual, most abandon the requirement due to lack of applicants. Most rely on in-house service training programs due to lack of funding. In addition, hiring policies vary depending on the institution’s size and/or services rendered. The result is that there is no set industry standard for hospitals.

Having a certificate does not guarantee a higher salary, because institutions are very much aware of personality-dependent variations and use them as a factor in determining compensation packages. Unlike management salary packages, those for CBETs are typically institution- or union-dependent, not industry driven. In management-level positions, compensation packages are negotiable. In these cases, having a certificate is a plus and the time when the certificate best serves its purpose—as a bargaining chip.

Once hired and during the day-to-day performance of the job, one may realize that the applications of knowledge gained through certification are limited and the knowledge may serve only as background information for reference purposes. In our everyday work, we are evaluated based on the results of our labor and on how we handle ourselves in completing the assigned tasks. The work’s quality will be based on individual experience. Unlike in the academic world, in the “real world,” works are evaluated based solely on how theory is applied. In the real world, once orientation is over, one uses approximately 10% of knowledge gained through certification. The remaining 90% is gained through experience. This may be one of the reasons why interest in certification is waning.

Institutions use the same work-quality-related criteria as a measuring tool for determining promotions and salary increases. Experience always comes into play and theoretical competency always lags behind in determining quality of any finished product. Certificates serve best only as a measure of one’s minimum level of knowledge, and unless the FDA or the state gets involved and regulates the profession, it will continue to remain as such.

Victor Sarmiento, CBET, retired
Independent Consultant
New York, NY