Putting Knowledge to the Test with Certification
March 2nd, 2008

March-April 2008

How much do you and your employees know about ceramic tile? That’s the challenge CTDA posed last year when it launched its Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson (CCTS) program. The CCTS program offers individuals and their employers throughout the industry the opportunity to quantify and demonstrate their know ledge of ceramic tile products and installation. To date, more than 130 industry professionals have been certified, with more waiting in the wings to take the test.

Because consumers wouldn’t take their car to a mechanic who had no idea how the vehicle worked, or buy a house from a builder who didn’t bother with permits or inspections, the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) designed the Certified Ceramic Tile Salesperson (CCTS) program to deliver knowledgeable, professional service to the customer, to quantify the considerable expertise of the salesperson/dealer, and to promote quality manufactured materials. Certification distinguishes the professional and documents his or her expertise.

Because CCTS is comprehensive in its approach to both design and technical issues, the program is appropriate for those in both sales and technical areas. Members of the industry’s manufacturing community, who are already technically adept, say the CCTS program forced them to look at tile through the eyes of their distributor customers. They were challenged by questions of pattern, layout and estimating just as those from the distribution chain were challenged by installation issues.

How does someone become a CCTS?
Becoming a CCTS is no easy task. Candidates must have been employed in the ceramic tile industry for at least two years and pass a three-hour certification exam testing their knowledge and ability to locate knowledge on many different aspects of tile, tile installation materials and methods, applications and standards.

Once a candidate has registered for the CCTS exam, he or she receives two binders that comprise the CCTS Study Guide. The Study Guide Reference Binder contains tile industry references from which the test was written (such as Tile Council of North America (TCNA) Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation; American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile) and CD-ROMs with pretests and a study guide. A second binder contains CTDA’s complete Tile Training in a Box with DVDs. Additional areas of knowledge covered by the CCTS program include CTDA Reference Guide and Installation of Tile and Stone for the Beginner; Basics of Ceramic Tile Test; CTDA’s How to Handle Customer Complaints Guideline; and more.

Pre-tests included in the Guide allow candidates to identify their strengths and weaknesses and measure readiness to pass the exam. Candidates work through the pre-tests, mastering both the materials and the available resources to successfully pass the final certification test. The passing score on the exam is 70%, so candidates must score higher than that on the pre-tests.

The personal commitment required to take and pass the exam alone is substantial. In many companies—including dealers, distributors and manufacturers—individuals have chosen to study for and take the certification exam as a group. These candidates typically credit the shared knowledge of group study as a real benefit in individually passing the test. However, individual testing is just as successful.

The “bottom line” for an increasing number of companies is to have their staffs earn the CCTS designation, whether they do so as a group or as individuals. Industry knowledge is a valuable commodity in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. It distinguishes the company and its staff and also, ultimately, results in better sales and more satisfied customers. To learn more about CTDA’s CCTS program, please visit the association’s website at www.ctdahome.org or contact the association at (630) 545-9415.

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