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6 Accreditation, Certification, and Licensing Academic training and work experience are considered key elements in estimating an individual's ability to perform in the workplace. Two indications that minimum standards of quality have been met in edu- cational programs and personal experience are accreditation for the institution and certification/licensing for the individual. Accreditation and Recognition of Quality The recognition bestowed by graduation from an associate or bacca- laureate degree engineering technology program represents in part an evaluation of the quality of those entering the profession as engineering technicians or technologists. The value of academic training increases when accreditation from the Technology Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology tABET) estab- lishes that such training meets the minimum criteria for rigor and appropriateness . Unfortunately, ABET accreditation is not a national requirement. Although most baccalaureate engineering technology programs have received accreditation, the majority of associate degree programs have not sought accreditation because of its cost and their inability to meet curricular content and faculty accreditation criteria. Licensing and Certification A separate issue involves recognition of the qualifications of the technician or technologist to perform as an employee. Such recognition 28
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ACCREDITATION, CER TIFICATION, AND LICENSING 29 is available through certification and registration. Licensing and regis- tration are carried out by the individual state governments and are sometimes restricted to those who qualify as engineers. There is no similar process for technicians and technologists, although in some states technicians, and particularly technologists, can be registered as professional engineers. However, the requirements for registration limit the number who can become registered. Certification is a creden- tial that is available to many technicians and technologists, although it normally does not carry the legal status that is associated with registra- tion. Certification is offered by a number of organizations and is available on a voluntary basis to those who feel they meet the criteria that have been established. The certifications available are usually in a specialty of concern to a professional society or association. They certify that certain members have acquired a specific level of expertise through education and experience. The only nationally applicable certifications that are not tied directly to the needs of individual organizations are the technician and technologist certifications available from the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies [NICET~.5 NICET limits itself to serving as an examining body to evaluate the qualifications of those who voluntarily apply for certification in one of its many programs in a large number of recognized engineering disciplines. Recently, there has been increased interest in using certification to establish that an individual has the necessary education and work expe- rience to perform specific job tasks. This increased interest is changing the importance of certification from that of a credential desired by an individual for purely personal reasons to that of a credential needed by an individual to obtain employment or to retain a particular job . . posltlon. Recommendations 1. "Hallmark" programs in engineering technology should be iden- tified, publicized, and supported nationally. 2. Appropriate accrediting agencies should play a greater role in efforts to increase the quality of engineering technology programs. 3. Students should be prepared for and encouraged to seek techni- . ... . clan certl~lcatlon. 4. Professional registration of engineering technology faculty should be encouraged.