While you don’t need a certification to be an outstanding landscaper, having a certification can be of huge benefit. Not only does certification provide you with education and a basis for making great landscape decisions, it offers a credential that consumers can appreciate as well as access to insider resources that can take your business to the next level. Here is what it takes to become a certified landscaper along with a few reasons it makes sense to pursue credentials.
How to Become a Certified Landscaper
There are several organizations that offer landscape credentials. Some operate at the state level and others on a national level. Some organizations offer a single credential while others offer multiple credentialing options as well as subspecialty credentials. If you are interested in becoming a certified landscaper, the first thing you need to do is take and pass a professional certification exam.
To get the most mileage out of your efforts, plan on taking a national exam, such as that administered by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (previously PLANET), first. The NALP exam has 6 specialty designations for applicants to select from including:
. Landscape Industry Certified Manager (CLP),
. Landscape Industry Certified Technician-Exterior (CLT-E),
. Landscape Industry Certified Technician-Interior (CLT-I),
. Landscape Industry Certified Horticultural Technician (COLP),
. Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician – National, and
. Landscape Industry Certified Lawn Care Technician (CTP-CSL).
All exams include written portions and several include practical (hands-on) sections. The majority of exams last an entire day. In most cases, study materials can be purchased from the test provider and are generally easy to find online.
After taking a national exam, taking and passing a state or local exam will be easier as they are often variations on their national counterparts. Additionally, programs, such as NALP, partner with colleges and universities to provide deeper education. Once you have taken a NALP exam, you may find that developing specialized knowledge is a path you want to pursue.
The Benefits of Being a Certified Landscaper
Being certified is proof that you have mastered the skills and knowledge necessary to be an outstanding professional landscaper. Not only will you enjoy a new level of confidence thanks to your certification, you will gain industry recognition and have access to insider information. The contacts you make as a result of certification will prove invaluable as you grow your business.
Boost Public Perception
The most direct benefits of being certified come from public perception. Certification demonstrates to clients and potential clients that you are serious about your work and, by extension, are serious about providing clients with outstanding service. Being certified improves the marketability of your company to customers, particularly when you make it clear that you can get the job done right the first time. Certified landscapers provide better results in less time, which means healthier vegetation, improved aesthetic appeal, and cutting edge environmental practices.
Retain High-Caliber Employees
The benefits of your certification extend to employees in two ways. First, clients can feel comfortable that even if employees are not certified, they have oversight from someone who is. The second benefit of being certified stems from your ability to hire and retain professionals. Demonstrating that you are serious about the work you do will attract like-minded individuals to your company and deepen your hiring pool.
Acquire Prestigious Jobs
Even though being certified doesn’t change the types of jobs you can bid on, it certainly changes the likelihood that you will land certain jobs. Commercial work, particularly for national chains, will be easier to acquire if you can demonstrate knowledge and skill. Simply having the credential will give you a leg up over the competition. Once you land a highly visible job, performing great work will set the stage for acquiring even more business.
Certification in a Nutshell
Certification isn’t the right choice for everyone, but for the serious landscaper it is a must. Even though you can put in the time and effort to learn and grow on your own (and you should), having a certification boosts perception of your skills among customers and industry colleagues alike. You can build a successful business without certification, but it is a whole lot easier with it.