I have recently heard, as part of some of my activity with the IEEE EMC Society (which really should be a lot more than it is (my activity, not the EMCs!), but that’s another story), questions about what iNARTE should do for us, as certified EMC Engineers. The gist of the question is: what is the overall benefit to the EMC Society and its members from iNARTE and having one or more of their EM related certifications?
It’s a good question but I think the answer is going to be that there is very little tangible evidence of any direct benefit to the EMC Society or its individual members from any iNARTE relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the certifications themselves. I believe they provide a valuable initial measure of someone’s ability, particularly someone you don’t know that you might be considering for a position or to do business with. After all, don’t you want your doctor to be AMA board certified? In general certifications should provide:
• Third party credentials in specific areas of expertise based on recognized standards.
• Recognition of proof of professional competence in a particular technical area
• Assurance to employers a measurable level of expertise and quality of work.
• A demonstrable benchmark to which organizations can train and evaluate their staff.
• Certification fosters industry growth by demanding standards of technical excellence.
They are basically an acknowledgement from industry peers that someone has met a certain minimum standard of competence in that industry. Beyond that it doesn’t tell you much. And while the goal of certification might be the above listed bullets, but they certainly can’t take the place of personal interviews, reference checks, etc. And I don’t think NARTE or any other certification group “owes” us anything beyond that pretty certificate.
I can remember when NARTE started the EMC technician and engineer certification programs (something like 20 years ago – I don’t like to remember that part!) with a lot of push from the Navy, the Naval Air Systems Command in particular. The idea was that NARTE certification would be a personnel requirement in service contracts related to EMC work so that companies bidding on this work that had NARTE certified people would be at a distinct advantage. Unfortunately, that didn’t come to pass; there were very few RFPs released with these requirements and for the life of me I can’t remember why. There were a some in the first few years after the certifications were started but they quickly died out. Maybe if Russ Carstensen is out there, he can tell us the story (at the risk of having him point out the errors in mine!).
So why do we continue to get these certifications? I’m not sure. Professionally, I don’t believe anything in my career would be different if I didn’t get that certification. Being part of the IEEE and the EMC Society has far greater professional potential. Maybe its an insecurity thing. After all, I was grandfathered in as a NARTE EMC Engineer at the beginning! You actually need to know your stuff to get one now and I have great admiration for those that have earned the certifications. So I’m not sure why I re-up every year (or three years at a time) at this point but I do.