Pre-Qualification of Construction Managers – An Essential Ingredient for a Successful Project

Pre-Qualification of Construction Managers

With ever-increasing costs of construction and the need to complete quality construction projects in a timely and safe manner it is critical that owners utilize professional and ethical designers and constructors on their project teams. Currently owners require that the project design teams are comprised of licensed architects and engineers. The license is an individual professional qualification that ensures that their facilities will be designed to the project specifications and meet all applicable building codes for owners.

As for construction companies, while owners require that they be licensed in the states in which they are building, the license does not serve as an individual professional qualification (as licensing does for architects and engineers) for all of the managerial construction personnel within anyone construction firm. However, there are national certifications for professional constructors that are recognized as being equivalent to individual licensing of architects and engineers. Thus, it is in the owner’s best interest to require certified professional constructors on their project construction teams. Many construction-related professional organizations have developed professional certifications based on specific type(s) of project delivery systems and/or contract methods. But only one professional organization, the American Institute of Constructors (AIC), has developed a comprehensive two-level constructor certification that covers all types of project delivery and contract methods for both general and specialty contractors.

The Associate Constructor (AC) certification, is the first level and is awarded to those individuals who have either: a) graduated from an accredited university construction education program and passed a third party comprehensive examination on the fundamentals of construction, or b) have attained a minimum of four years of qualifying industry experience and passed the same certification examination. The Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) is the second level and is awarded to those individuals who have attained their AC certification and have acquired at least four years of experience managing construction projects or who have met the requirements to sit for the AC examination and have an additional four years of experience managing construction projects. The individual also must take and pass a third-party developed certification examination on the application of the fundamentals of construction.

Both the AC and CPC certifications are accredited by the American National Standards Institute. In addition, the CPC certification is recognized as the professional qualification for constructors that is equivalent to licensing of architects and engineers.

Many owners and public entities are currently realizing the benefits of the CPC certification. For example, Clemson University and Texas A&M are now placing language in their Requests for Qualifcations and/or Request for Proposal documents indicating preference in their contractor selection method for those companies who will have CPCs as part of their project management teams. One example of effective pre-qualification language is as follows:

Provide a list of the key personnel that will be assigned to the project along with their experience and some assurance of their ability to achieve the project goals. At a minimum, the key personnel include the proposed project pre-construction manager (and any key pre-construction specialists, including estimator), project superintendent, project manager, project director, and executive in charge. Summary resumes of key personnel shall include education, professional certifications, licenses and affiliations (i.e. Professional Engineer, Registered Architect, American Institute Constructors AC and/or CPC, etc.) and relevant project experience. Increased consideration will be given to firms that propose staff with these professional certifications.

The states of Oklahoma and Texas contractor licensing boards, recognize the CPC professional qualification as acceptable to perform construction management work in their respective states. Finally, progress is being made to have the CPC certification accepted by various segments of the Federal government. Owners are experiencing that having CPC’s on their project management teams provides an added level of assurance that their projects are being constructed and managed in a more professional and ethical manner.

While the CPC certification is relatively new as compared to state licensing of architects and engineers, it is becoming more recognized and accepted by the construction industry as the only third-party national certification for all types and sizes of general and specialty construction contractors no matter the type of project delivery method. The certification documents that the holder has extensive expertise in the key construction disciplines derived by education and the job problem solving experience.

In closing, constructor certification is the mark of a true professional in the construction industry, indicating the individual has met the educational, experiential and professional standards needed to uphold the obligations of the profession. This includes helping to meet and exceed owner expectations of their construction project management team. By requiring construction companies, to provide certified constructors to serve on their project teams owners should experience a more effectively managed project.

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Roger W. Liska, EdD, FAIC, CPC, FCIOB, PE

Chair AIC Constructor Certification Commission