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29913780_lYou see and hear the word used everywhere! Certified used cars, certified diamonds, certified home inspectors, certified dog trainers, certified auto mechanics and on and on and on … Do you know what it means?  Really it means nothing by itself.

Basically anyone can call themselves or anything they’re selling “certified”.  All that means is that someone is claiming something to be certified.  The dictionary says “certified” means officially recognized as possessing certain qualities.  The dictionary does not say what qualities are required or what credentials one needs in order to bestow certification.

In other words, it’s an empty term unless you know the person, organization, standards and qualities being espoused.  For example, there are some organizations that exist solely to issue “certifications”.  One time I actually got my big dog certified as a home inspector.  That’s because this particular organization had no particular standards – all I had to do is sen in the money.  By the way my dog was a Great Pyrenees named “Cloud” and he did a great job sniffing out treats.

If certain professions require specific education, licensing, registration or government oversight of some kind, consumers are somewhat protected.  But in those industries that do not have formal or legal requirements, people need to watch out for phony or useless certifications!

Be aware that some professionals form their own “associations” or “foundations” for the sole purpose of granting themselves “certification” (as in my dog the home inspector).  So it is important to investigate the group handing out the certifications.  An ethical organization with strict standards will yield consistent quality.  Make sure they have been in existence at least five years and have diverse membership.  Look for members spanning many businesses and individuals over wide geographic areas.  Also look at the certification process and be sure it is not just a “registration”.   An organization that carefully screens members and has a detailed certification process is the kind of group you want.  Here are some of the things to look for:

  • Background checking of “certified members”.
  • Training and educational requirements.
  • Experience and track-record standards.
  • Testing.

There is also something I refer to as the “Thread of Truth” theory.  That means if you research enough groups, long and hard enough, you’ll continue to see the same few names that consistently come up as credible organizations.  Those names are usually the ones that have earned notoriety due to a good history.  It also supports another theory that says “you can fool some of the people, some of the time but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”.


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