View Full Version : Landsaping certification ALCA

02-02-2003, 11:59 PM
I was wondering if any of you guys are certified. I was talking to somone at alca about getting certified, i was wondering if this would be benifical? Also i am running my company and iam not sure if i can attend a college. And would i benifit alot from it or do you think alca would be a good route?
Iam in much need of help. Not sure which road or path to take.

02-04-2003, 09:54 AM
Ijust tok the CLT test for the firsttime this fall. They only offer the field testing once a year in Wisconsin (kind of sucks for retaking sections). I think that if you are a smaller company it can mean a little more than in a large company. I work for a larger company and the main reason that I did it was to show that I cared about the career and wasn't just there for a job. The test itself is a phenomonal amount of work. you get tested on 20+ different things in the field. THe whole time keeping safety in mind and not forgetting any little detail. What made it easier for me was that my company offers training sessions on all sections of the test. I met guys on test day that had never touchedan irrigation controller and actually had to buy oe just to practice for the test.

I believe that the testing is a good thing. It sets a baseline for the industry. I don't necessarily agree with everything the way they do it, but have to do it their way to pass. If you search the postsfor CLT certification (certified landscape technician) I think you might find more on the subject.

John Allin
02-04-2003, 12:20 PM
I am a CLP through ALCA. I find having the Certification is personally rewarding and sets us apart from the "other guys" in our market. It is more proof that you are a professional, and that you view yourself as a professional too.

The Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) is the official trade association for the landscape contracting industry, representing approximately 2,500 landscape contracting firms throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad. ALCA members are involved in all types of landscape contracting, including landscape construction, design/build contracting, landscape maintenance, reclamation and erosion control, irrigation, lawn care, interior landscaping, and all other aspects of installation, construction, and maintenance of the living environment.

Founded in 1961, ALCA develops and maintains active programs for its membership in the areas of technical assistance, business management, governmental affairs, industry publicity, safety and insurance, and interindustry relations with other facets of the Green Industry.

ALCA is viewed as the voice for the landscape industry. The association's mission is to represent, lead, and unify the interior and exterior landscape contracting industry by working together on a national basis to address environmental and legislative issues and create increased opportunities in business. ALCA provides a forum to benefit its members’ profitability, personal growth, and professional advancement.

Purpose of the Certification Program.......

The Certified Landscape Professional (CLP) examinations have been developed by the Associated Landscape Contractors of America in conjunction with the Professional Development Institute to provide professional recognition to competent individuals who are engaged in the business of landscape contracting. To obtain this goal, ALCA appointed a Certification Board of Governors comprised of nine outstanding leaders in the landscape contracting industry. These governors collectively represent a range of educational backgrounds and have sufficient years of experience to be recognized as possessing special expertise in landscape contracting.

The Objectives of ALCA’s Certification Program are:

To raise the standards of the profession;

To encourage self-assessment by offering guidelines for achievement;

To identify persons with acceptable knowledge of principles and practices of the profession;

To award recognition to those who have demonstrated a high level of competence in the profession;

To improve performance within the profession by encouraging participation in a continuing program of professional development.

Marketing Tools:

Successful ALCA Certification examinees receive the following to assist them in the promotion of their prestigious achievement:

Lapel pin

Stamp with name and CLP seal

Certificate of achievement

Camera-ready logo slick

Press release for use in publicizing accomplishment

Listing in ALCA’s annual membership directory

Content Areas:

The CLP exam is overseen and admininstered by ALCA. There is a Certification Board of Governors that oversees all aspects of the CLP Certification Program. The examination is a 6-hour multiple choice test which covers major areas of interest of landscape contracting. Listed below are the areas which will be covered in the exam and the percentage of questions derived from each section:

30% Business Planning, Accounting, and Management
20% Risk, Law and Contracts
20% Sales, Marketing, Communications, and Public Relations
15% Health, Safety and Human Resources
15% Production/Operations and Horticulture

The CLT (Certified Landscape Technician) goes through a 'hands on' test as well as a written exam. CLT's normally are foremen and middle managers from a given company. This test is generally administered at the state level (under license agreement with ALCA's Board of Governors) and is overseen by the ILTC (International Landscape Technician Council) that reports to the ALCA Certification Board of Governors.

Whew..... that's a long one.... hope this information helps.

By the way.... I am predjudiced about CLP and CLT as I am Chairman of the ALCA Certification Board of Governors.

02-04-2003, 07:43 PM
There is a certification post in the business section from a day or two ago.

John, I am aware of the work you do for ALCA and would like to thank you for it.

I was rather tired the other AM and could not remember all of the different components of the CNLA (Certified Horticultural Technician Program) here in Canada. I dug up a sheet from when I attended.

Written Exam:

First Aid and Safety, Plan Reading, Plant sensitivity and Use


Plant Identification, Sod Installation, Work Orders, Program Controller, Irrigation Identification, Lateral Repair & Head Adjustment, Truck and Trailer, Tree Planting and Staking/Guying, Chainsaw, Plant Layout, Grading & Drainage, Instruments, Rototiller and Tractor/ Skid Steer Operation.

This was for the Landscape Installation Program ...I would highly recommend it.

Tim Canavan
02-05-2003, 12:24 AM
That was the best response to a question I have ever seen on here. You made me want to go and get certified.:D
I will by the end of the year.

02-06-2003, 07:43 AM
I think the CLT certification is a good thing but, why do they require you to know things like irrigation when you are not allowed to install it or service it without a license. If the license was easier to get it might make sense to me but you need 3 years experience in the field to even take an exam. With a simple 3 part test you can get a pesticide license and drive a truck around with a thousand gallons of toxic liquid in it. I just don't get it.

02-06-2003, 12:14 PM
I agree with you on that HENRY. It makes not much sense they should maybe make changes to that. Any of you have your certification and you really benefit from it.

John Allin
02-08-2003, 04:30 PM
For those who ARE certified, and believe in its benefits - reading comments like these can be taxing. I heard from one very successful contractor ($13M company) that "It's infuriating to read from other contractors that they think certif. is BS. They probably feel going to conferences and reading are a waste of time also."

The public will never know about certification unless they hear it from a contractor. It took over 100 years to get the CPA designation known and millions of dollars. ALCA is providing contractors with the tools. They need to use them to their advantage. As our industry matures and the client has an easy way to identify several top tier companies (that, on the surface, all look equal to them) then certification has the potential to be the one differentiator.

Landscape contractors need to be able to create and demonstrate a high perceived value to their prospects. No one can do that for them. This is why some contractors can get $50 HR for the same work another contractor will charge $20 an hour for. It's about marketing, communication and sales skills.

My personal opinion is (for what it's worth) - if some landscapers don't see the opportunity that certification provides them now, at some time in the future they'll surely get it. When the customer asks if they are certified it will be because they already have talked with a certified contractor. I'd rather be their first myself. Grass roots marketing is what it's all about, and is considerably more effective than scattershot ads.

I believe that ALCA's certification program will be our best tool to prevent excess government regulation of our industry. We could use certification to regulate ourselves so the government doesn't have to become involved - as we all know that the government will screw it up if given half a chance.

ALCA is working at influencing the specifiers (such as Landscapec Architect's, Extension Agents, Property managers, etc.) - and is beginning to achieve some level of success in this arena. But, until certification is embraced by the landscape industry the homeowner will never hear about it.

02-09-2003, 08:43 AM
This makes sense 100%- But would it not be a great idea to pass into law you need certification/licence/ to be in this industry. Can ALCA help do this? I certainly cannot presribe persciptions without a licence

John Allin
02-09-2003, 10:41 AM
ALCA is against governmental control over our industry.
Can ALCA stop that from happening ?? Hard to say. However, there is a part of ALCA (individuals, not the organization as a whole) that lobbies 'on the hill' regularly. ALCA also endeavors to educate legislators about the issues pertaining to our industry.

Again... there's strength in numbers......

02-09-2003, 12:24 PM
I look forward to one day where you need to be a member of ALCA or whatever organization to be recognized by the "public" as a professional similiar to in our state you need a plumbers certification to do all irrigation work- but anyone can ckaim to be a "professional" with a mower.

It's frustrating as members of this fine organizations I compete with company's who do not take risk management seriously and cut all the corners- just a little venting

02-09-2003, 03:02 PM
My question to everyone is:

If your current opinion about certification was in place the day you went into business, would you have been kept from opening it without having done anything differently than you did?

If it would have:

Did not being certified make you a danger to the community, an unscrupulous businessman, or did you go on to grow, learn, and provide better services and earn more as you did?

I think that it is not realistic to think that if the industry regulates standards then everyone in it will make more money. If the most talented charge what the little less talented do, guess who won't get the job! The free market has a way of working itself out. When the attempt is made to level the playing field there is some cut that goes into that fill.

Get certified, get educated, give yourself every advantage and you will out shine all those that don't. Leave the scrubs behind. They have people that need them. If you need the scrubs customers, what does that tell you? There will always be those ahead of you and there will always be those behind you. Make the best of your abilities and don't worry about someone else.

If your standards are high and the industry's are low, you will be on the top of the food chain. Do the Yankees want to see baseball acheive parody like the NFL? I bet the Expos do (or did). Play the game to win. Hopefully we can do that without changing the rules to favor ourselves.

I'd hate to see Granny make the choice of not getting the lawn mowed for $50 because it is illegal for an uncertified guy to do it for $30. Mine would have mowed it herself or let it grow. No one will get the $30, never mind the $50.

By the way. I am a Registered Landscape Architect and have NO PROBLEM with anyone designing landscapes with whatever experience and at whatever price. Would any of you like it if you had to be an LA to design landscapes? There are 300 landscape contractors within 20 miles of me and 4 Landscape Architects. I think I could gain a little if that were the case. [U]

02-10-2003, 08:13 AM
Agla and all others,

I wish I could articulate my thoughts as well as you have here. I believe certification is a great thing, and the ALCA seems to be a prime organization to be passing out certificates. However, you can not blanket us all under an expensive piece of paper and expect the world to care.

If everyone was certified, the client would look for other means to separate the chaff from the wheat. If you want an even playing field example look to affirmative action. A governing body cannot mandate success. The cream always rises to the top. It doesn't matter what color the milk is, or what kind of cow it came out of, given a day or two the cream is on top. No government can pass a law to make it change.

Our field is no different. Success can and will be sought by the strong, the proud, the Marine kinda attitude. The scrub isn't looking for success by the same standards as the guys on top.

We all should continue to educate both the consumer and the competition as to the benefits of getting/being educated and certified. We ourselves should continue down the path of enlightenment. But don't try to drag Joe loser down the path with you. Not only does it make you journey tougher, but it makes everyone think you and Joe are the same kinda guy.

There is work out there that only the scrub will do...I'm not going to do his jobs. Are you?

02-10-2003, 09:45 AM
If "Joe Scrub" was content to do harmless projects maybe we could look the other way. The problem arises when this kinda guy tries to take on a project that is way beyond his expertise. We aren't just talking about planting a tree in the wrong place. When his retaining wall holding up a patio or swimming pool deck fails, it hurts the image of the industry. I like voluntary certification programs. Just wish the public knew more about them.