BIMcrunch has become a platform for a plethora of elite industry names to become guest writers on the site and share their thoughts and opinions with the #GlobalBIMCrew. Today, Consulting and Training Manager at BRE, Dan Rossiter returns to BIMcrunch to give his viewpoint on BIM certification.
Recently, I became one of the first BIM certified professionals under the BRE’s Certified Professional Scheme. However, prior to this I had previously gained certification as a RICS Certified BIM Manager. At the time of writing this article, I am the only professional in the UK to have completed both schemes, so I thought I would share my experience. So what is certification, and should you do it?
Certification is a process where an authority has assessed you or your business against specific criteria and has judged you capable. For example, we at BRE can certify individuals and businesses against UK BIM Level 2 requirements. Following assessment, certification schemes generally provide a badge or title to allow you to demonstrate your successful completion of the scheme. With many certification options available, it is hard to know what schemes will best suite you as an individual or your business; this article provides my opinion on the matter, and will hopefully help you to inform your own opinion on these certification schemes.
There are generally two main points of view regarding certification schemes. The adopters, who see it as a competitive advantage; and the resistors, who believe that certification is just a badge. Depending on the scheme, both views are valid to an extent, but based on my recent certification experience, I believe that certification is a positive thing.
As BIM developed through industry as opposed to academia, most early adopters have done so without a formal education process, this has led to confusion on what BIM is, and as a result, issues such as a vast array of industry BIM titles appear on a daily basis: BIM Manager, BIM/Revit Manager, BIM Co-ordinator, BIM/Revit Technician, BIM technician, BIM Technician (Revit MEP), BIM Technician Co-ordinator, CAD/BIM Technician, Structural BIM Technician, M&E BIM Co-ordinator, Architectural Technician BIM/CAD, Project BIM Leader, Head of BIM (to name a few from a popular job website!). It is clear that employers do not fully understand what BIM is, and based on recent forum discussions I have contributed to, there are still many ill-informed construction professionals too. In brief, BIM is an information exchange process based on industry best practice, not a synonym for 3D CAD. However, too many people are of the opinion that if you have able to model in 3D you are able to do BIM. This is simply not the case.
The certification schemes, such as those provided by the RICS and BRE attempt to rectify this; by becoming certificated, you have been independently assessed and judged competent relating to a specific set of requirements. In the same way that CDM requires you to assess the competency of yourself and others, a competency check should be done on BIM capabilities. Certification in my opinion is the most practical way to achieve this.
Certification is all well and good but what scheme should you follow? As a deliverer for the BRE certification schemes it would not be appropriate for me to provide a comparison, but I can provide an overview of both of the schemes I have completed. In brief, both schemes require you to be assessed, meaning that you cannot just buy certification, a level of knowledge is required and both schemes also promote their scheme members on their respective websites.
The RICS BIM Manager Certification scheme involved providing a copy of my CV as well as a 2,000 word case study providing evidence of four core BIM competencies including Initiation, Process, Collaboration & Integration, and either Technical or Commercial; which was then assessed by a judging panel. To be eligible I was required to have: Completed five years of relevant experience, be a RICS member (MRICS or AssocRICS), have any degree or a recognised professional qualification, and have a minimum of 12 months BIM experience. At the time I had 3 years practical experience, and 3 years in education which they agreed was sufficient experience, of the two optional competencies I chose Technical. The scheme itself is continually evolving, with a feedback system given to Certified BIM managers to shape the certification by being able to comment on or include new learning objectives for consideration. I am now also able to judge new applicants.
The BRE Certificated Professional scheme in contrast uses an education courses route that starts with a BIM foundation course called the BIM AP (Accredited Professional) and an exam. This can then be followed by certificated courses for BIM Information Management for those interested in the roles of Project or Task Information Managers (PIM/TIM) and can then be enhanced with an the additional day course for those interested in Project delivery Management (PDM). Each course covers a number of learning objectives, and completes with an exam with a pass rate requirement before you can move onto the next level. All of the BIM education courses at the BRE have been developed against UKAS learning outcomes and have been developed and delivered in partnership with Avanti, who were instrumental in the development of many of the standards relevant to BIM Level 2 within the UK. Course content is regularly reviewed, and having completed the courses, along with additional training from Professor Mervyn Richards OBE, I am now starting to help to deliver it.
For professionals who are keen to demonstrate their competence to BIM hungry clients, or to gain a competitive edge would certainly benefit from being able to advertise their certification. For those who are not as familiar with the material, an education based certification scheme may be most appropriate when compared to an evidence based scheme, as it provides the benefit of being able to up skill while becoming certificated.
In summary, without a formal education procedure BIM has become complex with blurred definitions. Certification is a solution, as it can provide employers with independent clarity in an industry rife of ambiguity. For that reason alone I believe certification is well worth considering.
When writing for us previously, Dan was a design team leader at Cardiff Council, completing architectural designs while championing BIM. This time around, Dan has a new job and with it, a new perspective. Delivering education, certification and consultancy services on BIM for BRE, Dan is keen to share his experiences and voice his opinion. Keep it locked to BIMcrunch to read more from Dan in the future.
Follow Dan on Twitter here.