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How many times have you seen a group of capitol letters after someone’s name and actually understood what they stand for? For example, while most people know CPA is certified public accountant, you probably won’t recognize CGB is certified graduate builder, CRB is certified real estate brokerage manager or CWB is certified wildlife biologist, unless of course you work in that particular field.

Professional certifications enhance knowledge, and the corresponding designations recognize that.

From accountants to zoologists, there’s a professional association with national, state, regional and/or local affiliates for just about every field imaginable. Since membership is typically open to practicing professionals as well as related business associates of all ages and experience levels, networking and mentoring opportunities are big benefits along with continuing education.

In today’s increasingly complex and highly specialized economy, career-minded professionals who are often educated and already working in their field know that ramping up their level of expertise with professional certifications is also a great way to differentiate themselves from their competition.

For example, CGB designation requirements include two years of building experience by graduation, completion of the Builder Assessment Review (which determines the number of courses required from five key areas of the designation curriculum – Building Technology, Business Finance, Project Management, Sales, Marketing & Land and Safety), defines builder as the primary executive/owner of a company, superintendent or lead carpenter, or construction executive personnel/employee who has built a minimum of one dwelling in the past 24 months and requires an ethics pledge, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

The CRB designation is earned by successfully completing eighteen credits, having a minimum of 75 transactions within the last five consecutive years and accumulating 10 points by having either bachelor's, master's or Ph.D. in real estate, or previously earning a combination of the following National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) designations: CCIM, CIPS,CPM, CRB and/or GRI.

According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), professional certification is a voluntary process by which individuals are evaluated against predetermined standards for knowledge, skills or competencies. Participants who demonstrate that they meet the standards by successfully completing the assessment process are granted the certification.

To be clear, assessment-based certification is NOT a certificate of attendance or participation, which are provided to individuals who have attended or participated in classes, courses or other education/training programs or events but were not required to demonstrate accomplishment of the intended learning outcomes.

Assessment-based certification programs provide tailor-made instruction and training for specific knowledge, skills, and/or competencies, evaluate achievement of the intended learning outcomes and award certification only to those participants who meet the performance, proficiency and passing standards of the assessment.

For professionals with certifications and designations, the challenge then is to communicate the value to clients who often don’t understand what they mean, or even realize what they are.

That’s why the NAHB has made February National Designation Month. Recognizing the achievement of those holding a designation and encouraging others to either start or complete courses toward a designation.

NAHB professional designation programs offer comprehensive training to builders, remodelers and other industry specialists that lead to professional credentials:

Graduate Master Builder (GMB)

Certified Graduate Builder (CGB)

Certified Green Professional (CGP)

Master Certified Green Professional (Master CGP)

Certified Aging In Place Specialist (CAPS)

Graduate Master Remodeler (GMR)

Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR)

Certified Graduate Associate (CGA)

Master Certified New Home Sales Professional (Master CSP)

Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP)

Certified New Home Marketing Professional (CMP)

Master in Residential Marketing (MIRM)

Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP)

Designations give consumers a guide to selecting professionals who have specialized in their area(s) of interest. These local builders were recently recognized by the Indiana Builders Association (IBA) for earning designations:

Michael Broviak, CGB, M.T. Broviak, Crown Point

Richard Cook, CGP, Cook Builders, Crown Point

Barbara Cueller, CAPS, See What Eye See Low Vision Rehab, Crown Point

Lashanda Gayle, CAPS, Dyer

Matt Gingrich, CGP, Energy Diagnostics, Valparaiso

Gary Green, GMB, CGB, Wagner Homes, Valparaiso

Kelly Kaminski, CGP, Coolman Communities, Valparaiso

Cory Kreith, GMB, CGP, CK Building and Design Corporation, Crown Point

Jay Lieser, CGP, 1st Metropolitan Builders, Munster

Mary Mulligan, CGP, Diversified Business Group, Gary

Paul Reed, CGB, P.J. Reed Development Corp., Dyer

Chris Schwarzkopf, CGP, Energy Diagnostics, Valparaiso

Steve Sochacki, CAPS, Dyer

Donald Stash, GMB, CGB, CGR, CGP, CAPS, Stash Construction, Gary

Craig Van Prooyen, CGP, Van Prooyen Builders, Crown Point

Anne Vater, CGP, CAPS, Vater Construction, Schererville

Eric Vater, CAPS, Vater Construction, Schererville

Dennis Wilson, CGB, D. Wilson Builder, St. John