Too often, consumers choose an installer or contractor based on price alone, which results in lost work for qualified installers and installation failures. CTEF launched the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program in 2008 to provide a means for good, knowledgeable installers to verify their skills and promote themselves to potential clients and employers. Certification enables professional installers to provide industry-recognized proof of their abilities and secure more work. The program was developed in response to the lack of a mechanism for consumers to know the level of proficiency of prospective installers. By encouraging consumers to use only the best-qualified installers, the program will help to raise the quality of installations in the U.S. Making strides toward this goal is important to maintaining the status of ceramic tile as the material of choice and continued industry growth.
The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) program is a comprehensive testing of the skills and knowledge of experienced tile installers which includes a multiple-choice exam and a hands-on test. Both are based on current industry standards and best practices for producing a sound installation that exhibits good workmanship. The tests, therefore, require that both the observable and non-observable characteristics of a finished installation are executed properly. Please note: this is a test of ability and is not considered a training event.
Installers who pass the written and hands-on exams receive a certificate, an identification card, and, most importantly, marketing materials developed by CTEF. For example, certified installers may display the CTI logo on business cards, vehicles, and clothing. Additionally, CTEF provides promotional brochures that encourage consumers and general contractors/builders to use certified installers.
What is Certification?
Certification is the validation of the skills and knowledge of the men and women who presently are installing tile successfully in the United States.
Who should register?
Any installer may take the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exams if he or she has at least two years of verifiable experience as the lead installer setting ceramic tile on a full-time basis. Experience as a helper, improver, grouter, finisher, etc., does not qualify toward the two-year requirement. The CTI designation identifies the professional installer who has reached a level of proficiency to independently and consistently produce a sound tile installation that displays good workmanship.
For those who are not installing tile on a full-time basis, the two-year requirement applies, though more total years of installation are required to make up for the percentage of time not setting tile. For example, an installer who installs ceramic tile about 1/3% of the time must have six years of this experience. Again, experience is defined as having full responsibility for substrate prep, layout, coordinating with other trades along with properly installing tile and underlayment materials.
While we encourage all qualified and interested individuals to take advantage of the certification program, we offer a friendly caution to those who have been setting tile for the minimum amount of time. In order to maintain the integrity of our certification, CTEF evaluators require strict attention to even the smallest of details. The installer must prove he or she can competently execute all phases of installation and consistently produce finished work that is functionally sound and exhibits a high level of workmanship that will satisfy the most discriminating clients. Our grading procedure allows very little latitude for technical errors or aesthetic flaws, as we pledge to uphold certification as a meaningful symbol that consumers can trust. Typically, three to five years of tile setting experience is required to attain the knowledge and skills required.
To further help determine if you qualify, please see descriptions of the technical proficiency exam and the evaluation score sheet. Additionally, a CTEF certification evaluator will be happy to further discuss these entrance requirements to help determine your eligibility. Contact Scott Carothers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (864) 222-2131.
What is the technical proficiency exam?
The technical proficiency exam is a 155-question, open book, multiple choice test. Upon registration, applicants will receive the following study materials: TCA Handbook for the Installation of Ceramic Tile, American National Standard Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile, and Fundamentals of Ceramic Tile Installation for Certified Tile Installers. To prepare for the exam, applicants are encouraged to read the CTI manual and review the industry standards in order to have adequate time to complete the test. A maximum of four hours may be taken.
Exam topics include: industry associations and industry standards, safety, concrete substrate considerations, wood substrate considerations, crack isolation membranes, backer boards, bonding materials, ceramic tile performance properties, tile installation workmanship standards and best practices, cementitious grout, movement joints, and flexible sealants (caulks). The review questions at the end of each chapter in the manual are representative of the questions on the exam. Click here for Sample exam questions.
What is the hands-on test?
The hands-on test allows CTEF evaluators to verify that an applicant has the skills to deliver an installation that meets industry performance and workmanship standards. Installers must demonstrate their ability to execute a complex layout and proper installation of: vapor retarder membrane, backer board, tile (walls and floors), cementitious grout, and flexible sealant (caulk). For each installation material, the applicant is scored on the various aspects of workmanship relevant to producing an installation that will endure use and satisfy the discriminating client.
The hands-on portion of the testing is generally taken at a warehouse facility of a product manufacturer, distributor, or contractor. In selected cases, a contractor seeking to certify multiple individuals may be eligible to arrange for on-the-job certification testing, at the discretion of CTEF.
Click on thumbnails to see enlarged photos of the hands-on test modules.
Click here to view the hands-on evaluation score sheet.
What scores are required to pass and become a Certified Tile Installer?
To become certified, an applicant must receive at least an 85% combined score. The multiple-choice exam is weighted 25% and the hands-on test is weighted 75%.
Exam score 71% x .25 = 17.75
Hands-on score 90% x .75 = + 67.50
Combined score 85.25 (pass)
Click here to register.
Marketing your CTI Certification
Installers who pass the written and practical exam receive a packet of marketing tools that will provide consumers, architects, designers and contractors a recognizable standard of expertise. The package includes:
- Certified Installer certificate
- Plastic wallet card
- Certified Installer logo
- Consumer brochures
- Listing on the CTEF website