What is the value of accreditation?

Home Inspector with Inspection Support Services Inc.

New home inspectors are often confronted with the issue of where can I go to get high quality training and education to become a home inspector. There are literally hundreds of home inspection training schools out there, but how can I get the best training possible?  

One bona fide gem of the National Certification Program is "accredited training". Accreditation is both a status and a process. As a status, accreditation provides public notification that an institution or program meets standards of quality set forth by an accrediting agency. As a process, accreditation reflects the fact that in achieving recognition by the accrediting agency, the institution or program is committed to self-study and external review by one's peers in seeking not only to meet standards but to continuously seek ways in which to enhance the quality of education and training provided.  Accredited training programs for Canadian home inspectors have been in place since July of 2007. There is a list of accredited training programs recognized by the NAC (National Accreditation Council) a separate council of the National Certification Authority.  The NAC also have a few more programs currently under review.  

The NAC is comprised of mixture of professional home inspectors and representation in related professions The NAC is tasked with reviewing the applications and mapping of the educational learning outcomes. Collectively they assign an accreditation value to these accredited training programs.

Professional educators have long recognized the value of accreditation. Many academic institutions measure school programs against mutually held standards. As college educator, I have been involved in mapping the architecture program.  I can truly appreciate the enormity of the task that the NAC faces in reviewing applications for accredited training. As an example, in the case of my college, 3 years of architecture articulated into 3 years of transfer credit into an architecture degree program at a university just across the border from Windsor. It was not an easy task, nor without years of discussion.

The process starts with a training provider submitting their inspection courses and programs. As noted earlier, the training material is "mapped" to assure that the "learning outcomes" significantly match up with the NOS (National Occupational Standards). Mapping is an activity that compares where learning outcomes are fulfilled in the course of learning. This also helps identify where gaps in education may exist. Mapping presents the course/program in a more visual form. It is a user-friendly means for aligning course "curriculum" learning outcomes with the "occupational standards". The NOS identifies the required skills and tasks for a home inspector to successfully complete the requirements expected of conducting a professional home inspection.

Learning outcomes are statements that specify what learners "will know or be able to do" as a result of a learning activity. Learning outcomes are statements which describe a desired condition - that is, the knowledge, skills, or attitudes needed to fulfill the need. They signify the solution to the identified need or issue. Learning outcomes provide direction in the planning of a learning activity - such as in one case of identifying the key components of an electrical system, or perhaps in greater technical detail explaining the purpose of a GFCI or other specific electrical component.

The point offered here is that all courses available in the marketplace are generally not equal, nor can the courses that have not applied for accreditation automatically be dismissed as lesser in value. The critical issue that home inspectors need to ask - is will these courses be of value or not. One key distinction that accreditation does provide - is a measure and an accountability of the real value of the training course material reviewed by an independent team of experts. Up until recently there was little if any point of making such a comparison or curtail a practice that promotes a training referral system to favour only certain courses and training.  Accredited training is the new educational benchmark system for assuring a higher quality education that is transparent and meets the inspectors' professional needs.

In the early days of the development of education for home inspection sector there were very few applicable courses available. Now on the other end of the spectrum there are literally hundreds offered. So how can you get the best home inspection training for your hard earned investment into this profession? And furthermore how can you be assured that these courses have undergone the scrutiny to assure that you will get the best value and more importantly the "required" learning. I simply suggest look at "Accredited Training". There are many training providers that have already reached that level!

The value of accreditation includes:

1) It verifies that an institution or program meets the established standards.

2) It maintains the academic value required of higher education.

3) It serves the needs for practitioners in selecting some of the best home inspector training.

4) It politically removes any real or perceived bias against self-serving interest of steering home inspectors to one favoured training provider or through undue influence.

5) It enhances the quality of education.

6) It sets a competency threshold for regulators to use when establishing criteria for entry into practice, including eligibility for professional certification, regulation and/or licensure.

The accreditation process for home inspection courses/programs provides a very close scrutiny of course material. Achieving accreditation can take months or in some cases longer depending upon the completeness of the submission material. Fundamentally, accreditation ensures that you are obtaining a quality education and recognition for completing an education that meets the National Occupational Standards. Accreditation has been central to an ongoing commitment to excellence that characterizes work of the National Certification Program.  How can you check to see if your training is accredited? Go to the National Certification Program website and checkout accredited training. http://www.nca-anc.com

Common questions related to the various courses/programs include:

1) Why are there differences in the weighted values for accredited hours? - Response: the training courses/programs noted with higher values offer more in-depth level of education and training, generally covering most all of the learning outcomes to the NOS. A course indicating fewer hours, such as 40, generally provides a good introductory level training, or possibly one with a focus on one system.

2) What's the difference between academic versus practical hours?  Academic hours reflects learning directly related to textbook (academic) learning opposed to practical hours that indicate onsite or field training such as performing a home inspection.

3) What are the educational requirements to become a National Certificate Holder?  Complete a minimum of 200 hours of training courses specific to home and property inspection from an accredited institution. Complete a minimum of 50 hours of practical field training, and pass all training course exams. Than once approved there is a TIPR to complete.

To briefly summarize - the awarding of "accreditation" signifies that the training provider meets a rigorous level of training criteria.  Additionally, they are willing to maintain those "Standards" and to improve its educational program by implementing any recommendations. Maintenance of an accreditation agreement is subject to specific terms and dependent upon demonstrating an ongoing, reflective progress to improve teaching and learning and the support of teaching and learning. You will be assured that the education you are receiving is of the highest standard.

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