So being a big social media geek, I am naturally engaged in many social networks. One of them, of course, is LinkedIn. The other day I stumbled across a post in the NKBA discussion group. Mary Gut, CKD posted the following announcement:
"I just got word that NKBA has drastically lessened the requirements for the AKBD exam. Only 70 questions with no experience required? Comments NKBA?" -Mary Gut, CKD
Normally casual posting and discussion is what takes place in this group. However, following this post was a firestorm of comments against this new direction for the AKBD certification.
To explain to those that are unaware, the NKBA is a non profit organization that is dedicated to the training and development of kitchen and bath designers. The idea is that all members get the best training possible, and that as a whole we become the best professionals in the industry. Getting these certifications is supposed to set us apart from other, non certified designers. This is the NKBA's mission statement:
"The Mission of the National Kitchen & Bath Association is to enhance member
success and excellence, promote professionalism and ethical business practices
and provide leadership and direction for the kitchen and bath industry worldwide "
Now the AKBD certification is the first in a list of certifications that you can attain. Before this new change, to get it you had to have several years of experience. To prove that you had this experience you had to get affidavits signed by your employers who were supposed to be industry professionals. After you met the requirement for work experience you were then eligible to take the 200 question test.
I took this test, and passed. It was hard. I had to study a volume of books and lean on my years of experience to pass. I feel that I am a much better designer because of this test. I valued this certification because it says to my customers and colleagues that not only did I study hard and pass a challenging exam, I clearly have years of experience in my field.
What the NKBA has done now is strip away the requirement for any experience. You read that right, all you need now is 30 hours of NKBA class time, and you need to study their volume of design training books so you can take the test. So, in literally less then a week's worth of work, anyone off the street that wants to add letters to their name can take this test.
So after several angry posts against this in the LinkedIn discussions (and for reasons I can't understand one person was FOR this change), someone from the NKBA chimed in with the following post:
"Thank you all so much for your feedback regarding the changes to the AKBD certification. The AKBD exam has been streamlined from 200 questions to 70, but please note that the exam has not been made easier, as candidates will now face the 70 best and most difficult test questions. Candidates are still required to complete 30 hours of NKBA education, understand a combined 2,800 pages of text from the nine volumes of the NKBA Professional Resource Library, and pass what will be a more difficult academic exam.
Members should be proud of earning the AKBD certification, as it demonstrates that you have significant academic knowledge of kitchen and bath design. However, the AKBD certification is the NKBA's associate, academic certification--the first in a series of certifications. It was never intended to demonstrate practical design skill, which is gained through experience. The CKD and CBD certifications each demonstrate that design skill by requiring candidates to prove their experience and pass a practical design exam. It's because of this that the work experience requirement of the AKBD has been eliminated. "
Niamh Fiona O'Byrne
NKBA Certification Manager
This one section of the above post really floored me:
"However, the AKBD certification is the NKBA's associate, academic certification--the first in a series of certifications. It was never intended to demonstrate practical design skill, which is gained through experience."
It was never intended to demonstrate practical design skill? Are you kidding me? What exactly is it supposed to demonstrate then?
I think I can read between the lines and see what is going on here:
The NKBA has had a bad couple of years financially. What better way to increase your numbers than by making it really easy to become a member and add letters to your name. To become a member, all you need to do is spend a lot of money on 30 hours of training, then spend more money on books, and then even more on taking the test. Experience is priceless, irreplaceable, and the best thing one can have to become a leader in their industry. With the NKBA removing this requirement, they will probably increase their checkbook balance for the short term, but they are eroding the true value of their members, one that cannot be quantified monetarily, experience.
What's next? Are there going to be commercials with a loud bearded pitchman telling that us for one low price we can get not one, but two levels of certification if we order in the next 15 minutes provided we pay shipping and handling on the plaques?