How can you find the right disaster recovery services provider for your project? One key thing to look for is certifications. Baseline certifications will depend on the type of restoration work your building needs, the potential risks, and your location. The key is to go beyond the baseline and look for companies that have undertaken the additional training required to achieve professional certifications in the restoration industry.
Industry certifications for restoration services firms indicate that a contractor is committed to providing high-quality service to customers and has deep experience in the disaster recovery industry. While states and localities often require trade-specific licenses or registrations, they do not require a restoration services firm to have a particular industry certification. Leading disaster recovery services firms typically have these professional credentials because they establish their expertise and credibility. In some cases, industry certifications are required by certain insurance agents, claims adjusters, and property managers.
When evaluating contractors, potential clients should look for all government-required licenses plus two additional types of industry certifications: Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and Restoration Industry Association (RIA) certification. Let’s take a closer look at why these certifications are the industry standard for restoration and disaster recovery.
The IICRC is a nonprofit organization that serves the professional inspection, cleaning, and restoration industries. Today, the IICRC has more than 49,000 active certified technicians and more than 6,500 certified firms around the world. The IICRC offers 26 different certifications, including the Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT), Building Moisture Inspection (BMI), Fire and Smoke Restoration Technician (FSRT), Health and Safety Technician (HST), and Water Damage Restoration Technician (WRT), among many others.
Becoming an IICRC-certified technician requires completing hands-on training sessions and passing a written exam. Plus, certified technicians can renew their certification by taking yearly refresher courses. Certified firms must have insurance coverage, offer ongoing training and support for employees, abide by the IICRC code of ethics that sets forth a standard of care for the restoration industry, and have a customer complaint policy that requires them to follow up with all complaints.
The RIA is the oldest and largest nonprofit professional trade association for the restoration industry. The RIA represents 20,000 cleaning and restoration professionals from more than 1,100 member firms specializing in cleaning, water, and fire damage restoration, contents restoration, mold remediation, and environmental issues.
The RIA offers a series of certifications, including Fire Loss Specialist (FLS), Contents Loss Specialist (CLS), Water Loss Specialist (WLS), and Environmental Risk Specialist (ERS). To earn a certification, candidates must have at least five years of verifiable work experience or three years of verifiable supervisory experience. They must also complete a series of courses, pass an examination, obtain a letter of recommendation from their immediate supervisor, and prepare a formal report or complete a risk assessment, depending on the certification. After completing all four of these certifications, certificants can apply for the Certified Restorer master certification.
RIA membership is also available to companies that offer restoration, cleaning, mitigation, reconstruction, remediation, abatement, environmental, or similar services to buildings or their contents. Firms with a strong reputation in the industry may also be invited to have their leaders or staff join a trade association’s board or serve in a leadership capacity. Review the bios of contractors’ leadership teams to assess whether they have been recognized in the industry.
Anyone can start a restoration services company. But not every company can earn a certification that shows it is a credible, professional operation with the knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high-quality results.
To learn more about ATI’s qualifications in the restoration industry, check out our white paper, “Certifications and Training a Restoration Firm Should Have.” Then get in touch to learn how we can put our expertise in restoration and disaster recovery to work for you.