Certification is the final link in a process established to educate people in the correct way to perform their assigned job duties. Well-trained employees, with independently verified knowledge and skills, make fewer mistakes—and therefore have fewer accidents—than those with less experience or inferior knowledge.
While certification generally involves some form of testing, not all testing leads to certification, however. And even though training is clearly essential to a valid certification process, care must be taken to ensure the two functions remain separate. After all, an improperly developed certification program might be worse than no certification at all because it would create a false sense of security among both those who have it and those who rely on it for hiring purposes.
Fortunately, industry guidelines for professional certification have been established by two independent credentialing authorities, the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
NCCCO is currently accredited by NCCA through 2014. NCCA is an independent, non-profit organization set up by the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) to establish industry guidelines for professional certifying organizations. In 1998, NCCCO received its first five-year accreditation from NCCA, recognizing that NCCCO programs meet or exceed NCCA’s exacting standards for certification competency. Federal OSHA referenced this accreditation by NCCA in its formal agreement signed with NCCCO in 1999.
NCCCO was initially awarded accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 2007 and then reaccredited by ANSI in 2012. Most NCCCO certification programs—Mobile, Tower, Overhead, and Articulating Crane Operator, Digger Derrick Operator, Signalperson, Rigger Level I, Rigger Level II, and Crane Inspector—are accredited by ANSI to the ISO/IEC 17024 International Standard for organizations that certify personnel. ANSI requirements are rigorous and designed to give assurance to those who depend on certification programs that the tests are fair, sound, and valid assessments of the knowledge and skills they are intended to measure. The decision of ANSI’s Professional Certification Accreditation Committee to award accreditation came only after exhaustive on-site and field audits of NCCCO’s management systems and psychometric procedures.
The NCCCO crane operator programs are the only programs to have earned accreditations from both NCCA and ANSI as well as recognition by federal OSHA as meeting OSHA and ASME (ANSI) requirements for crane operator competency.
Other government authorities that have conducted independent audits of CCO programs include:
- The Department of Education, on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has qualified CCO certification for candidate fee reimbursement under the provisions of the Montgomery GI Bill of 2000
- The Department of Defense, which has approved the CCO program through its DANTES program to provide certification to military personnel serving worldwide
To preserve its status as an independent, impartial testing authority, NCCCO does not offer training. Certification does, however, provide an objective means of verifying that training has been effective—that learning has, in fact, taken place. Only third-party, independent certification can do this, and then only if it has been validated by the industry it is intended for and it is recognized as psychometrically sound by certification specialists. NCCCO has met all these criteria.
Key features of NCCCO programs are that they:
- Actively encourage training, yet are separate from it
- Verify that training has been effective
- Were developed in a non-regulatory environment
- Are modeled on ANSI/ASME consensus guidelines
- Meet recognized professional credentialing criteria
- Have participation from all industry sectors
- Are officially recognized by federal OSHA as meeting crane operator qualifications
- Are accredited by independent accrediting bodies (ANSI and NCCA)