Advanced Certifications for Tile

IMI and BAC, working alongside tile employer associations including TCAA, have taken a major step to expand the job opportunities of tile installers by developing a series of certifications that will help distinguish the skilled tile installer from the less-skilled. The Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) is a new set of certifications that recognize the importance of qualified installers and the role that the installers play in the success of any tile project.

The certifications were developed by IMI, BAC, TCAA as well as the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation and the National Tile Contractors Association and the Tile Council of North America. Recent editions of the TCNA Handbook as well as Arcom MasterSpec recommend requiring qualified tile installers.

The current specialty areas of ACT are: large format tile floors/substrate preparation;mud work;showers; and membranes. It is anticipated that additional areas will be added as the program expands. In order to be eligible for certification, an installer must meet the prerequisite of being an experienced installer (those who have completed a BAC/IMI apprenticeship program qualify); and pass a written exam and practical hands-on test.

The written test is administered through multiple choice questions and tests the installer’s knowledge on the certification topic as documented in relevant ANSI standards, TCNA Handbook and best industry practices. The installer must pass the written test to be eligible to take the hands-on test. The practical hands-on test is administered at an IMI training center, manufacturer’s warehouse or other pre-determined location. The installer is given a pre-constructed module, such as a shower base, subfloor, etc. and will install the designated components of that certification’s system on the module.

These certifications will help expand work opportunities for installers and contractors who want to distinguish themselves as highly-skilled and known for top quality work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is ACT?

A: “ACT” stands for Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers. It is a new set of certifications developed and administered by a consortium of tile industry organizations that distinguish tile installers who have exhibited and proven their advanced knowledge and skills relative to one or more specialty areas of the tile installation craft.

Q: Why have these organizations initiated the ACT program?

A: The major tile industry organizations recognize the importance of qualified installers and the role that the installers play in the success of any commercial or residential tile project. Both tile contractor associations, TCAA and NTCA, have their respective contractor certification programs, but those certifications are held by the Tile Contractor and not the Installer. Recent editions of the TCNA Handbook and Arcom MasterSpec recommend requiring qualified tile installers. The ACT program will provide one method of qualifying tile installers for different advanced areas of installation.

Q: Which tile industry organizations are involved in developing and administering the ACT certifications?

A: Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), providing training and certification for tile installers.

Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), representing IUBAC signatory tile contractors.

International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), whose members are skilled tile setters who have completed multi-year apprenticeship as well as other trained masonry craftworkers.

International Masonry Institute (IMI), which provides professional and technical training for union tile setters and tile contractors, as well as other masonry craftworkers and contractors.

National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), with membership open to all tile contracting companies.

Tile Council of North America (TCNA), whose manufacturer member companies contribute to the development of the modules and tests.

Q: What are the specialty areas of Advanced Certifications?

A: Currently the advanced certifications are:

Q: Who will hold the certification?

A: Certifications are not held by the tile contractor or the employer, rather they are held by the individual Installer upon completion of the certification.

Q: Are there any other advanced certifications?

A: Currently the ACT certifications are limited to the four listed above. The ACT Advisory Committee anticipates that certifications in additional advanced skills will be added to the program in the near future.

Q: Can an installer hold more than one advanced certification?

A: An installer can hold one or more advanced certification. Each ACT certification is a stand-alone unit, allowing the installer to tailor training to meet individual or company needs.

Q: 8. What are the criteria for an installer to become certified in one of the advanced skills?

A: In order to be eligible for certification, an installer must meet these criteria:

Q: What defines the prerequisite of being an experienced Installer?

A: Installer has completed a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program as offered by IUBAC and IMI; or installer has been certified through the CTEF-Certified Tile Installer program.

Q: Once the prerequisite is met, what are the formats of the written and practical tests?

A: The written and practical tests are administered by IMI for union installers.

The written test examines the installer’s knowledge on the certification topic as documented in relevant ANSI standards, TCNA Handbook, and best industry practices. There may be 25 to 50 multiple choice questions. The installer must pass the written test to be eligible to take the hands-on test.

The practical hands-on test is administered in person at an IMI training center, manufacturer’s warehouse, or other pre-determined location. The installer is given a pre-constructed module (e.g. shower base, subfloor, etc.) and will install the designated components of that certification’s system on the module. Either one half-day or one full day is allocated for the hands-on test, depending on the certification. Upon completion, the installer is evaluated for conformance with stated ANSI standards, TCNA methods, and other stated installation criteria.

If the installer passes the written and practical tests, he/she is awarded the ACT certification for that specialty task.