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Tilt-Up Supervisor Training Is Six Years Old

By: Ed Sauter,
Tilt-Up Concrete Association

Enjoying phenomenal growth and expansion into new areas and building types, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) recognized the necessity of a pool of qualified supervisors available to serve the needs of the industry. As such, the Tilt-Up Certification program was developed so that owners, designers and general contractors could have some degree of assurance that an individual representing themselves as a Tilt-Up professional has at least a basic level of knowledge about the Tilt-Up building system.

The TCA-American Concrete Institute (ACI) Field Superintendent certification program is entering its sixth year of existence. Beginning with the first official exam, held at the 2001 World of Concrete, more than 1079 potential superintendents have taken the examination to date. There are currently 874 certified at the Technician level and an additional 205 fully-certified superintendents.

The TCA-ACI certification program is an excellent example of cooperation between two concrete associations, each possessing skill and expertise in different areas. ACI has the resources and experience to develop and administer approved certification exams. TCA provides the Tilt-Up expertise, education, and part of the study materials used in the program.

The 2007 World of Concrete will mark another landmark in the development of the program. A brand new study guide and totally new pool of questions and answers will be unveiled. The industry, and how Tilt-Up is approached, has evolved over the past six years. The exam and reference materials, in turn, have evolved to meet the challenge.

The reference base used for the exam consists of Chapters 2-8 of the Tilt-Up Design and Construction Manual, the ACI 551 Guide to Tilt-Up Construction, and the TCA Bracing Guidelines. All of these documents have been updated during the past couple of years and with that, some of the recommendations, procedures, and other information that formed the basis for the exam questions and answers needed to change. All of the questions and answers used in the exam must be based on information presented in these references. The ACI committee (ACI C-650), which oversees the program, has been working diligently for the past two years to update the questions and answers. The net result is a new pool with over 220 sets of questions and answers of which 80 are selected for the exam.

The knowledge required of the Tilt-Up supervisor covers several key areas including planning, site preparation, foundations, slabs, layout, forming, placement and finishing, erection and bracing, structural systems, safety, scheduling, concrete properties and finishes. The number of questions in the exam dealing with each area varies depending on the established “importance matrix.” Safety, scheduling and planning are the most important followed by layout, forming and erection.

While it is possible to study the materials and sit for the exam, the pass rate has been higher for those who have attended one of the preparatory seminars. The seminars are an overview of the Tilt-Up construction method with emphasis on the knowledge required of a supervisory level worker. The Tilt-Up Concrete Association developed a seminar that has been delivered by TCA staff as well as association members. Seminars developed by other industry experts, such as the one that has been offered at the World of Concrete for the past six years, also are available.

TCA staff traveled the country in 2006 to make certain that those whose certification expired around the anniversary date would have the opportunity to recertify before their status elapsed. The program was offered to more than 300 potential superintendents in Florida (twice), Washington, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Connecticut, Texas, Kentucky, California as well as Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The certification program has been popular in several progressive regions of the country. Florida
has the most certified personnel followed by Texas, Nova Scotia, and California. The number of certified personnel is a function of the number of contractors working in a given area – and the desire to establish themselves as experts in the field. The growth of the program in Florida and Nova Scotia was fueled by specifications issued by building designers and/or owners that required certified personnel on the job site.

According to TCA Board Member and Past President Laurence Smith of J.W. Lindsay Enterprises Limited of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, owners have recognized the importance of having personnel who are not only qualified, but also current with industry practices. This trend is expected to continue, he said.

While much of the content has changed, the basic parameters of the exam have not. A passing score is 70 percent (56 correct answers). Examinees have two hours to complete the multiple choice test and they are typically graded within two weeks. You can visit the ACI web site (www.concrete.org/ certification) to view a list of certified personnel. Only the name and city of the individual is listed to reduce the opportunity of companies “mining” the ACI list for recruiting purposes. The TCA website (www. tilt-up.org) has a map showing the distribution of certified Technicians and Supervisors.

There are two levels of certification, Technician and Supervisor. To be listed as a Tilt-Up Technician you
are only required to pass the then-current exam. The higher level, Tilt-Up Supervisor, qualifies by submitting work experience requirements for evaluation. The candidate must have a total of five years of construction experience, three of which must be in a supervisory or assistant supervisory role. The experience must also be spread over the areas of knowledge in which a supervisor is expected to have experience. The form must be authenticated by the candidate’s superior.

The designation is valid for a period of five years. To renew certification, the individual need only pass the then-current examination. Work experience requirements do not need to be resubmitted. If an individual who is classified as a Technician obtained the requisite experience they only need to submit their work experience qualifications. If approved, they will be elevated to a Certified Superintendent status for the balance of the five-year validity of the certification.

Although the certification program has been met with great success by the industry, there are still many challenges, most notable of which is the accessibility of the program the Spanish-speaking workforce. A significant portion of the Tilt-Up work force (this is true in many aspects of construction) is Hispanic. A Spanish version of the first exam was available but without Spanish study materials and a Spanish language version of the preparatory seminar, the pass rate has been low. According to Smith, a similar issue arises with French-speaking employees in Canada. The Tilt-Up Certification Committee is working on options for the future.

If you would like to be part of the Tilt-Up Certification program, feel free to contact Chairman Jimmie Ballard with CMC Construction Services of Houston, Texas at jimmieballard@ cmc.cc or Secretary Ed Sauter with the Tilt-Up Concrete Association at esauter@tilt-up.org.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.