Western Electrical Contractors Association, Inc.

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Opinion: Richard Markuson

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Does "Master Electrician" Sound Like a Good Idea?
The California Pool & Spa Association (CPSA) is contemplating a legislative proposal to establish an advanced (or master) certification program for swimming pool (C-53) contractors. The proposal would:

  1. Require that Contractor State License Board (CSLB) establish a voluntary "advanced" or "master" certification program for C-53 swimming pool contractors.
  2. Require that CSLB identify in statute the association or organization that would provide the certification training.
  3. Require that CSLB establish education and training standards for pool and spa contractors.
  4. Require that CSLB provide a continuing education requirement as a prerequisite to a licensee maintaining the certification.
  5. Prohibit a licensee that does not hold an advanced certification from advertising that they do.
The Board was, to put it mildly, skeptical that CSLB should go down the path of embracing and, more importantly, endorsing the notion that the state should play a role in what is, arguably, a purely association activity. They noted three laws or policies that would control any activity pursued by CPSA:
  • B&P §101.6 that sets the floor (or ceiling?) for state regulation: to set minimum qualifications and levels of competency for regulated professions.
  • B&P §166 that provides that if any DCA board/bureau requires continuing education programs for licensees, such a program be developed by regulations promulgated by the DCA director (not individual boards).
  • A unanimous board action in September 2012, to oppose requiring licensees to complete a continuing education requirement.
The State has a mixed record of approving and rejecting continuing education (CE) mandates. In addition to the requirement in the Labor Code that electricians obtain CE, some professions have state-mandated requirements, and some have been rejected (you can reach your own conclusion if $ome $pecial interest groups are morespecial than others).
In their letter of support CPSA observed:
Swimming pool and spa industry leaders believe there is substantial amount of substandard pool and spa construction in California by licensed swimming pool contractors. The California Pool and Spa Association (CPSA) believes that in many cases the C-53 licensing examination does not adequately validate the competency of a contractor to construct swimming pools, spas or hot tubs and that a more extensive education and training component is necessary to adequately equip swimming pool contractors to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the public and protect the interests of consumers.
The C-53 license examination contains few details regarding construction practices, and construction standards. In addition, the licensing examination is only given at contractor's entrance into the contracting field. Once a contractor passes the examination, the exam does nothing to inform him or her of changes in the laws, practices or standards in the profession. On the other hand, industry certification classes provide much greater detail and furnish contractors a substantive set of knowledge, skills, and abilities to construct, install, renovate, and repair pools and spas at the highest level.
As I mentioned, the CSLB was reluctant to endorse the proposal but took no action--citing a desire to address the issue if and when a bill is introduced in the Legislature.
But it caused me to consider if a "Master Electrical Contractor" Certification awarded by WECA would be a marketing advantage for WECA members (and other C-10/C-7 contractors) who sought the certification. Share your thoughts with me.
Oh, and Happy New Year!