Construction Certifications: The Ultimate Guide

If you're in the construction industry, you know how critical it is for staff to have the proper certifications before they get to work. These certifications can make your company appear more trustworthy to clients, improve your worksite safety and help your staff complete jobs in the most effective ways possible, reducing time spent on a project and increasing quality. Training and certification programs can cover several different elements of construction practices, from crane operation to reducing hazards on worksites.

No matter what you do in construction, you can receive a lot of value out of construction certifications. As you try to prepare your company's staff by getting them certified, you should check out the best construction certifications and organizations around to ensure that your company is ready to take on any situation.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) doesn't offer any certification courses, but they do offer an Outreach Training Program for the Construction Industry. This program helps those in the construction industry learn basic and advanced practices on how to respond to common health and safety hazards. You can enroll in a 10-hour or 30-hour course and receive a completion card once completing the training.

The 10-hour program is mainly directed at entry-level workers who need to learn about basic safety information. The 30-hour course is designed for staff who have some responsibility for their job site's safety, as the course gives students more varied training and in-depth information. Supervisors and construction professionals are often the prime takers of this training program. The courses don't train people on OSHA standards but focus on identifying, avoiding, preventing and controlling hazards.

Besides these training courses, those in the construction industry may also be interested in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) courses. While OSHA developed and established the standards that govern HAZWOPER, they don't host, certify, approve or endorse any HAZWOPER training programs.

Since HAZWOPER offers guidelines for the regulation of emergency services and hazardous waste operations, you may want your staff to be aware of these guidelines to stay within regulations and conduct your operations safely. Even though OSHA isn't directly connected to any training programs, an OSHA Regional Office, OSHA Training Institute Education Center, Trainer, Outreach Trainer or Compliance Assistance Specialist can help you find your local HAZWOPER trainers.

As you look for a HAZWOPER course, it's a good idea to check out OSHA's FAQ page for HAZWOPER, which has a lot of relevant information about choosing a program. For example, OSHA recommends that any course you or your staff takes shouldn't be 100% online, as they believe a sole computer-based training program can't meet the recommended training requirements to receive a HAZPOWER training certificate.


As a nonprofit organization, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) aims to assist engineers and surveyors in attaining professional licensure. The NCEES was formed in 1920 to create a more uniform system of requirements through all of the states.

As a result of this mission, they craft, administer and evaluate surveying and engineering exams for professionals in the United States. The organization is so respected that those seeking engineering licensure or survey licensure in most states will need to pass exams offered by the NCEES.

There will be some state-specific requirements for licensure that you should review, but it's highly likely that exams from the NCEES will be included in any licensure process. To ensure you or your staff are taking the appropriate steps to receive licensure, you can check out the licensing boards of various states and foreign entities that you plan to operate in.

Primary Licensure Exams Offered by NCEES

Engineering exams from the NCEES start with the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), before progressing to Professional Engineering (PE) and then Structural Engineering (SE). If you're looking for your staff to get certified, they may need to take these three exams:

  • Fundamentals of Engineering: Since it's the usual first step for most to become a professionally licensed engineer, the FE exam is created for students finishing their undergraduate engineering degree or those who have just recently graduated. This exam covers 110 questions and is administered at approved locations via Computer-Based Testing (CBT).
  • Professional Engineering: While the FE exam tests that prospective engineers understand the fundamentals of their discipline, the PE exam tries to identify potential engineers who have a baseline level of competency in whichever engineering disciple that they're trying to enter. The exam is meant for engineers who have a minimum of four years of experience after college working in their particular discipline.
  • Structural Engineering: The SE is a 16-hour exam that tests for a baseline ability in structural engineering. The exam goes over lateral and vertical components, testing that candidates know how to design bridges and buildings, particularly in areas where there's high wind or seismicity.

The NCEES also offers two surveying exams: Fundamentals of Surveying (FS) and Professional Surveying (PS). Those interested in becoming a professionally licensed surveyor will probably need to take the following two exams:

  • Fundamentals of Surveying: The first step to becoming a licensed surveyor starts with the FS exam. This exam features 110 questions and is designed for those who recently graduated or are about to finish an undergraduate surveying degree. The exam takes about six hours to complete, and passing it demonstrates that the person taking the test displays a basic competency in the surveying industry.
  • Professional Surveying: The PS exam is designed for surveyors who have been working for at least four years in a professional setting. This exam contains 100 questions and tests your ability to work competently in the surveying profession.

3. ACI

If you work with concrete, certifications from the American Concrete Institute (ACI) are the absolute gold standard. You'll find companies in a range of industries, like material work, construction and concrete design, that make it a top goal for their employees to have the appropriate ACI certifications. In total, the ACI offers 18 certifications that cover a wide variety of concrete-related tasks.

These certifications include those related to concrete field testing, tilt-up supervision, masonry, flatwork finishing, strength and lab testing, adhesive anchor installation and aggregate testing. The tests fall under the three main categories of programs:

  • Testing programs: One of the three main types of certification programs offered by ACI covers testing. Each of the testing certification programs covered in this category evaluates whether you have the knowledge and ability to perform types of concrete laboratory or field tests. To receive the certification, you also have to demonstrate you can record and report on the tests competently. You can find testing certifications in aggregate, cement, field concrete, laboratory concrete and masonry.
  • Inspection programs: Another primary category of certification relates to inspections. These certification programs test your knowledge and ability to inspect proper concrete construction and installation practices. You can obtain certifications in nondestructive testing, as well as proper inspection for concrete anchor, concrete construction and shotcrete.
  • Construction and specialist programs: The construction and specialist program certifications cover your knowledge of concrete construction practices in several specialized uses. Adhesive anchor installation, concrete foundation and concrete flatwork finishing are three of the programs available. You can also get certified in tilt-up concrete construction, shotcrete construction and concrete quality management.

Obtaining these certifications is helpful for several reasons and to several different groups. For one, technicians, inspectors and craftspeople can benefit from these certificates, as the rigorous testing required of them helps to ensure they build high-quality concrete structures. Additionally, the credentials that come with earning these certifications make those who have them more attractive to clients and employers.

Construction companies need people on their staff who are ACI Certified. In fact, many jobs can't be completed legally without ACI Certified personnel present at key points in a project's lifecycle due to building codes that range from the local to the international level. Even if there aren't building codes that require ACI Certification, having ACI Certified staff gives companies the peace of mind that their projects are getting completed at the highest level of quality.

Besides meeting building codes and completing jobs at the highest level, ACI Certified individuals are highly valuable to employers that want to differentiate themselves from the competition. Employees with multiple ACI Certifications also allow employers to take on a more diverse range of projects. The quality of projects will also be at the top of the industry, improving the reputation of a business.


The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifies that professionals and projects or buildings engage in green practices. With more clients and companies switching to green business practices, LEED-certified employees are crucial for businesses hoping to market themselves as up to date on the latest green practices.

By going through the LEED professional certification program, you or your staff can be independently recognized for their ability in green design and building. The first credential you earn through LEED will be the Green Associate credential that signifies that a person understands the latest sustainable building practices. After receiving this initial certification, you can continue to pursue other LEED certifications.

To earn credentials from LEED, you have to pass an exam. The exam for the Green Associate credential doesn't require any prerequisites, but the exams for specialty programs require you to have passed the Green Associate exam. Study guides, education opportunities and candidate handbooks are available to help candidates study for these exams, so it's recommended that candidates use them.

The Green Associate credential is the most popular, but you can also select a more specialized certification to advance your career further. To give you an idea of what a LEED certification can offer you, learn more about their certification programs:

LEED Green Associate

Earning a LEED Green Association credential is a clear sign that a building professional has a firm understanding of the practices and principles that go into green building. It's aimed at those new to sustainable building.

The exam covers 100 questions, and participants must receive a score no lower than 170 out of 200 to pass. Besides passing the exam, a LEED Green Associate must continue to take steps after passing to maintain their certification. Currently, Green Associates need to have 15 hours of continuing education hours on the books in the two years after they pass the exam to maintain their certification.

LEED AP With Specialty

After you pass the LEED Green Associate exam, you can distinguish yourself even further by receiving a LEED AP credential. These credentials will demonstrate that you have a greater knowledge of green building practices and principles. Additionally, you'll show that you're an expert in a type of LEED rating system since you can get certified in multiple specialty LEED areas. The USGBC recommends you have some hands-on experience working on a registered LEED project before taking an exam.

The exams for each of the specialties are 100 questions long, with the same score of 170 out of 200 required to pass. To take it, you must have the LEED Green Associate credential and be at least 18 years old. LEED AP specialty certifications include:

  • LEED AP BD+C: THe LEED AP Building Design + Construction certification is designed for professionals who want to demonstrate their knowledge of green buildings. Passing the exam will show that you have advanced knowledge of the different phases of designing and constructing residential, educational, healthcare and commercial green buildings.
  • LEED AP O+M: If you're looking to distinguish yourself in green operations and maintenance, the LEED AP Operations + Maintenance certification is for you. With the certification, you'll demonstrate that you know how to use best practices in operations and maintenance to reduce environmental impact, increase efficiency, practice sustainable operations and better the performance of existing buildings.
  • LEED AP ID+C: The LEED AP Interior Design + Construction credential shows that you know how to craft tenant areas and commercial interiors that are healthy and sustainable, while also encouraging productivity. The exam covers the design, construction and remodeling of productive work environments.
  • LEED AP ND: The LEED AP Neighborhood Development is ideal for people who want to produce communities that encourage walking. The credentials show that you know how to plan, design and develop walkable communities and neighborhoods.
  • LEED AP Homes: If you want to demonstrate that you know how to build sustainable homes, check out the LEED AP Homes credential. Passing the exam signifies that you know how to design and construct durable houses that don't produce a great deal of waste and utilize fewer materials and resources in their production.


The National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) offers crane operation certifications for a variety of cranes. Since each certification is specific to the type of crane being operated, your staff may need to get multiple certifications. The NCCCO is devoted to helping develop useful performance standards for the safe operation of cranes.

Currently, the NCCCO offers several different certification programs for some of the most used types of cranes in the industry. Your operators can find specialized certifications for all types of cranes from dedicated pile drivers, boom trucks and tower cranes to articulating cranes, foundation drill rigs and digger derricks. Besides just certifying operators, non-operators can also get certified in several positions, such as crane inspectors, lift directors, signalpersons and riggers.

Though these certifications cover different pieces of equipment, they all follow the same principles and steps. In the resources they offer candidates, the NCCCO hopes to ensure that all candidates are proficient and knowledgeable about the potential certification's subject. To validate the candidate's knowledge, they both develop and administer exam material relevant to the certification. Finally, the NCCCO awards certification to those who meet the relevant criteria.

NCCCO certification offers many benefits. With staff properly certified, there's a reduced chance of accidents, a decreased risk of loss, better-trained staff and increased job opportunities. The NCCCO is one of the most credible organizations around, as they've been accredited by the American National Standards Insitute and recognized by OSHA.


The Certified Construction Manager® (CCM) certification from the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) demonstrates that those who receive it have met the requirements of the construction management certification program. Some of these requirements include field experience, formal education and the ability to demonstrate your knowledge and capability over CMAA material.

Many construction managers try to receive a CCM certification to advance their careers, grow their professional knowledge and demonstrate their commitment to excellence in their field. A CCM is prepared to apply management techniques to a project's life cycle, from the initial planning stage to the design and construction stages. The techniques a CCM applies to a project can help you control the project's quality, cost and time.

Essentially, someone who earns the title of a CCM demonstrates that they are best qualified to provide construction management services at a top-level of ethical conduct and quality.

To receive a CCM, a construction manager must take a comprehensive in-person exam that covers 15 key subjects. Some of the subjects on the exam cover key areas like safety, time-management and cost knowledge to ensure that the CCM has a well-rounded wealth of knowledge to draw from. Besides passing the exam, you also must have two references who attest to your professional experience, and you'll have to get recertified every three years.

To qualify for the exam, you have to have a significant amount of experience in the construction industry as well. You either need a four-year bachelor's degree and a minimum of four years in construction management or eight years total construction experience with four of those eight years being in management. Due to these strict requirements, it's a major accomplishment for anyone to receive the certification.

Companies love having CCMs on their staff because they can market that they have the top talent in their industry. If you have CCMs on your staff, you can also trust that your projects are going to be completed in a safe, cost-effective manner. With these professionals in your corner, you reduce risk and increase the chances all your projects are completed on time.

Get the Best Equipment From The Cat® Rental Store

Besides outfitting your staff with the top construction certifications around, it's crucial that they have the best equipment available to them to complete a job. When you select one of The Cat® Rental Store's machines, you can be sure you have the power and durability to get tough jobs done. Take a moment to browse our rental equipment. If you have any questions or want to rent our equipment, please feel free to contact us or find your local branch.

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