Credentialing permeates current discourse within the lighting design industry. The subject of numerous magazine articles, blog posts and online discussions, credentialing was also the topic of presentations at the IALD Enlighten and PLD-C conferences. Despite the amount of information available, misconception and misinformation regarding credentialing are widespread.
Licensing is a mandatory process administered by a government agency, and its benchmarks are intended to measure basic competency. Certification is a voluntary process whereby an industry body grants an individual time-limited recognition and use of a credential based on pre-determined and standardized criteria. It is intended to recognize higher-level competence.
The CLD will address higher level design competency. While licensing standards differ in each jurisdiction around the world, this credential would be international in scope. Local governments typically defer to a professional certification in lieu of developing a licensing program from scratch.
Membership in a professional society, no matter how rigorous the qualification and review process, is not in itself a credential. The membership review processes for the IALD and other lighting design associations do not meet the standards for credentialing programs as set by the credentialing industry. Because membership review is an internal process, it has not gone through the intensive verification process establishing core competencies and domains of practice that are needed to meet the rigorous standards of a professional credential.
A certification and membership in an association have different purposes. The primary mission of a certification program, and its main benefit, is to assess competence in a given profession or trade through an industry-validated assessment that adheres to certification industry standards.
A membership is about belonging to a profession and participating in activities that promote the profession. The IALD and other lighting-related organizations each serve a special community of like-minded individuals within our profession, provide advocacy or lobbying representation to policymakers and develop relationships with similar industry organizations for the overall development and benefit of the profession. In addition, an association provides educational programs and conferences in order to serve all of these purposes: develop relationships with outside entities, enhance/develop the profession, and provide community and connection.
Membership, no matter how rigorous the review process, is not a certification. CLD certification will communicate proficiency in the broad array of supporting skills necessary to the design/build process that membership approval processes do not assess.
There is a great deal of strength in having both. Many professional architectural lighting design associations, such as the IALD or PLDA, have worked to established a skilled Professional-level membershipby admitting individuals judged by a committee of peers to be proficient designers. These particular organizations also have business model requirements (e.g., fee-for-service only) for voting-level membership. Many of those who earn the CLD certification will also be Professional-level members of IALD or another lighting design association, and each acronym will convey different aspects of the individual's real-world abilities. There is no other certification that is specifically for architectural lighting designers. By establishing core competencies and domains of practice this certification will provide a fundamental anchor of validity for the public.
The certification program will conduct a periodic job task analyses to determine if the elements of the certification process need to change to reflect current trends in the architectural lighting design profession. In well-structured certification programs, a job task analysis is conducted every 3-5 years.
Yes. Just as the program undergoes a review every 3-5 years to ensure it measures a high standard of competence, certified practitioners must recertify periodically to ensure that they themselves maintain a high level of competence. Because the proposed certification is intended to be an expression of continued competency, some form of recertification will be necessary.
One of the key indicators of the validity of a profession is whether or not it has a certification. This is in large part due to a wide-reaching job analysis, out of which process comes identification of core competencies which are incorporated into domains of practice. While an association provides a voice for the profession with government bodies, having a certification provides recognized validity. Having both – a membership in a professional society and a certification – gives practitioners the strongest voice with government.
The Lighting Certified (LC) certification program, sponsored by the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP), is a U.S.-based program that addresses multiple technical issues, lighting technologyc, and competent and knowledgable lighting practice. The focus of the CLD is specifically on the design and creative aspects of architectural lighting design. The focus is narrower, more specialized and international in scope. The purpose is to address a higher level of lighting design competency.
WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR THE PROPOSED CERTIFICATION?
An individual would have to meet certain criteria to be eligible to apply for the credential. Typical eligibility requirements include such parameters as: education, length of time in practice, level of responsibility, etc. The task force is currently exploring potential requirements.
HOW WILL THIS BE AN INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION?
The domains of practice identified for the profession of architectural lighting design embody core competencies that are common to architectural lighting designers worldwide. Irrespective of language, culture, location of design practice or projects, these core competencies and domains of practice are universal.
WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW WITH THE CERTIFICATION EFFORT?
The Credentialing Task Force is currently conducting alpha and beta studies of the certification application and review process to ensure that the certification accurately measures lighting design competence.
HOW CAN I SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON LIGHTING DESIGN CREDENTIALING?
Your input is invaluable and helps to ensure that as many perspectives from the architectural lighting design profession as possible are covered by the outcome of the task force's work. For questions, contact the IALD at email@example.com
by calling +1 312 527 3677.
FAQ updated 20 March 2014.
QUESTIONS ASKED AT THE SPOTLIGHT LOUNGE AT LIGHTFAIR INTERNATIONAL 2013
IALD Credentialing Task Force Chair David Becker, Associate IALD, and Certification Expert Judith Hale, PhD, presented a special session at LIGHTFAIR International. Keep in mind that these answers may be out of date at the time you read them. For the latest information, call IALD Headquarters at +1 312 527 3677 or send an email to Thomas Rackley, IALD Certification Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW HAS THE LEGALITY OF THE TERM "ARCHITECTURAL" BEEN EXPLORED?
During the open, free session, participants had the opportunity to ask questions about the proposed certification and how it would work. The following represent the most frequently asked questions.
Download these FAQs as a PDF.
IN ADDITION TO SUBMITTING A PORTFOLIO, ARE APPLICANTS REQUIRED TO TAKE AN EXAM AS PART OF THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
The application process includes a portfolio-based assessment and no other examination.
All terminology and language related to the certification will be reviewed by the IALD legal team before the certification is formalized.
WHAT WILL BE THE PROCESS FOR RECERTIFICATION?
Certifications, by definition, expire. Certifications will be reassessed after a specific timeframe. The timeframe and deliverables used to reassess certification will be determined as part of the ongoing development process. Recertification will be defined after a certification has been established.
WOULD RECENT GRADUATES FROM A PROGRAM THAT COVERED ALL SEVEN DOMAINS OF ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING DESIGN PRACTICE BE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR CERTIFICATION?
An academic degree alone is not sufficient to fulfill the eligibility requirements to apply for certification. Certification requires applicants to have practiced as a professional in the industry for a certain number of years. The Task Force will recommend at a future date how many years applicants should have practiced before applying.
WOULD A PROFESSIONAL PRACTICING IN THE INDUSTRY FOR TEN YEARS HAVE A BETTER CHANCE AT OBTAINING CERTIFICATION THAN A PROFESSIONAL WITH ONLY ONE YEAR OF WORK EXPERIENCE?
Yes. Professionals who have practiced lighting design for several years are more likely to be able to compile a portfolio of projects demonstrating competency in all seven domains of practice. The Task Force will recommend at a future date how many years applicants should have practiced before applying.
IS CERTIFICATION A PRELUDE TO LICENSING BY GOVERNMENT BODIES?
No. Certification is designed to prevent licensure; most regulatory agents prefer certification because it has more stringent eligibility requirements than licensure. The intent of the Task Force is for this designation to be recognized globally by credentialing groups and for credentialing groups to recommend that architectural lighting designers obtain this certification.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO APPLY FOR CERTIFICATION?
The cost will be determined as part of the ongoing certification development process. The Task Force will recommend a cost that is consistent with similar types of certifications.
WHY IS CERTIFICATION CONSIDERED TO BE VOLUNTARY
Professionals with a certain level of experience do not need to obtain certification to prove their competency in the field because their portfolio of work already demonstrates it. Junior-level professionals who have not yet acquired the same experience many want to set themselves apart from competitors, and obtaining a certification is one way to achieve that. Obtaining certification demonstrates the willingness of a professional to defend their work and have it reviewed by peers
IS THIS CERTIFICATION EXPECTED TO BECOME CRITERIA FOR HIRING?
The expectation of the Task Force is that certification will become a prerequisite for obtaining project work, but this will take time. The certification will help to define the profession of architectural lighting design and the professionals who practice it. It will set the standard for what architectural lighting designers do.
WILL CERTIFICATION LIMIT WHAT LIGHTING DESIGNERS CALL THEMSELVES?
Certification will not prevent people from calling themselves architectural lighting designers. However, certification will prevent people from calling themselves "certified architectural lighting designers."
HOW WILL CERTIFICATION BE MARKETED?
The current marketing and communications plan involves informational pieces and one-on-one conversations or meetings with members of allied organizations. Once a certification has been established, a marketing and communications plan will be developed to raise the profile of this certification in the industry
QUESTIONS ASKED AT THE MARCH 2012 WEBINARS
The IALD ;Credentialing Task Force hosted a series of webinars on 13-14 March 2012 to discuss the IALD's certification effort. Each webinar closed with a question and answer session that allowed attendees to submit questions about many facets of the task force's work. Attendees showed a strong interest in the activities of the task force and t
he ideology behind the IALD's credentialing research; many participants have also begun to ask questions about the application of the credential in the future.
APPLICATION AND QUALIFICATION QUESTIONS
WHO WOULD BE ABLE TO APPLY FOR THE CREDENTIAL? COULD SOMEONE FROM ANOTHER PROFESSION BE ELIGIBLE? WHAT IF A LIGHTING DESIGNER WORKS ONLY ON ONE TYPE OF LIGHTING DESIGN?
The target audience for the certification is practitioners of architectural lighting design – currently defined as the design of lighting for permanent installations. But achieving the certification would be solely based on being able to meet the seven domains of practice to the specifications of the application. If any applicants can completely demonstrate that they meet all seven domains, they would be able to earn the credential, regardless of their job titles, fields of work, or business plans.
DO I NEED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE IALD TO APPLY FOR THE PROPOSED CERTIFICATION?
No, membership is not a requirement to apply. However, membership could enhance your application. The current model would require an applicant to provide evidence that his or her work satisfies all seven domains of practice twice. However, a professional member of the IALD would only need to provide evidence that their work satisfied each domain once.
WHAT SPECIFICALLY WILL APPLICANTS NEED TO BE ABLE TO SAY ABOUT THEIR PROJECTS?
Applicants will need to be able to write descriptively about their work. They will be able to use photographs, sketches, concepts, research and investigations to support their descriptions and demonstrate that they have expertise in the field or domain they are discussing. Specific questions are still in development.
WILL A FORMAL EDUCATION IN LIGHTING DESIGN PLAY A ROLE IN QUALIFYING FOR THE CREDENTIAL?
As there is no standardized curriculum for lighting education around the world, this is not currently an anticipated requirement for applying for the credential.
SHOULD A DESIGNER LET A CLIENT KNOW THAT HIS OR HER PROJECT HAS BEEN UTILIZED IN AN APPLICATION FOR CERTIFICATION?
Designers should get permission to apply a project. If a designer senses that he or she is working on what might be a groundbreaking project, it would help to have that conversation with the client during the negotiation/working process, rather than after the fact.
HOW WILL THE CERTIFICATION REVIEW GROUP DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT A CHOSEN DESIGN FOR A PROJECT IS "RIGHT" OR "WRONG"? ALL DESIGN STYLES ARE DIFFERENT.
In order to be able to establish the credential, the IALD will have to develop a standardized method of assessment. There will be specific questions in the application that the applicant is asked to demonstrate; it will be the responsibility of the applicant to answer those questions through the submission of their work. As long as the applicant is able to answer the questions, the peer review process should allow for a great deal of creativity and ingenuity.
WILL THERE BE ANY OBJECTIVE METRIC TO THE CERTIFICATION, OR WILL IT SOLELY BE A PEER REVIEW OF PROJECTS?
As the credential is currently envisioned, the applicant will answer a series of questions in writing and submit those answers in conjunction with exhibits and evidence to support how the designer has fulfilled the seven domains of practice. However, there is no "right" or "wrong" answer to these questions – the questions will be judged on how adequately the applicant demonstrates that they have met the domains.
DOES A PEER REVIEW OF WORK TEND TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST LIGHTING DESIGNERS IN SMALLER MARKETS, WHO DO MORE REDESIGN AND RETROFIT WORK IN ADDITION TO A BROADER RANGE OF PROJECTS, INCLUDING EXTERIOR LIGHTING?
The certification does not discriminate against the size of the project; it is designed to be awarded to anyone who adequately meets all seven domains. The domains are definitely challenging, so simple refits alone may not be enough. However, there is nothing that requires the design to be huge in scale. It simply requires the design to be exceptional.
HOW WILL THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT PROJECT GOALS ARE MET BE EVALUATED?
Applicants would need to provide evidence of the brief for the project and show how they dealt with the requests of the client through the submission of various media. This would not be a "right" or "wrong" process – it would need to show careful thought, good planning, exceptional service and excellent design. This will be determined on an
WHEN DOES THE TASK FORCE ESTIMATE THAT THE CREDENTIAL WILL BE IN PLACE?
The Task Force is scheduled to make a recommendation to the IALD Board of Directors in August 2012; should the Board accept the recommendation, finalizing and implementing a credential may take another year.
IS THERE ANY CHANCE OF MAKING THIS CERTIFICATION NOT VOLUNTARY?
No. Certification, by its nature, is voluntary. While the IALD would like to make the certification a desirable goal, it will never be able to make it mandatory.
CERTIFICATION MANAGEMENT QUESTIONS
HOW WILL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND RE-CERTIFICATION FOR THE CREDENTIAL BE HANDLED?
Every certification, by definition, expires and needs to be renewed. This re-certification process is usually handled by asking participants to demonstrate that they have remained current and up-to-date on best practices in the profession since the time the certification was initially granted. The IALD has not yet determined exactly how re-certification might look, but the recertification would likely be built either around continuing education or an internal review process.
HOW IS THE CREDENTIAL TO BE ADMINISTERED, AND BY WHOM? WHO WOULD MAKE UP THE COMMITTEE THAT WOULD ASSESS APPLICATIONS?
A potential management structure is still being formulated. In all likelihood, an autonomous governing body would make all of the decisions relative to the certification and would oversee the process of developing the application. While this body would need to be independent from any existing lighting design organization to remain objective, initially this body would likely need to be administered by the IALD to get on its feet. There will be firewalls in place between the governing entity and any other
lighting association that might have an interest in the work being done.
The members of the evaluation group would likely be drawn from IALD members, members of the Professional Lighting Design Association (PLDA) and practitioners from related industries. An applicant would never be judged by a single judge. These judges would need training, coaching and monitoring, and would need to be drawn from regions from around the world in order to cement the international element of the certification.
WILL THERE BE ANY PROFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THE CREDENTIALING PROCESS?
The fees collected related to acquiring the certification will be funneled back into the program itself to allow it to grow and be run smoothly.
DOMAINS OF PRACTICE QUESTIONS
WAS DAYLIGHTING CONSIDERED AS A DOMAIN OF PROFESSIONAL LIGHTING DESIGN PRACTICE?
Yes. Daylighting falls into one or more of the domains of practice. To demonstrate that you are competent as a lighting designer, you would certainly need to show competency in daylighting analysis and the application of natural light with artificial light. Right now, the IALD is aiming this credential at a specific group of people in a fairly specific industry, but nonetheless it has a general content insofar as it needs to show competency across a broad range that is represented by the term "architectural lighting designer." It may be that later on, the architectural lighting credential may actually create some specialty spinoffs, and daylighting could be a separate sub-credential of this larger design credential.
HOW IS THE TOPIC OF LIGHTING CONTROL SYSTEMS INTEGRATED INTO THE PROCESS?
Lighting control systems are part of the competency of the architectural lighting designer and are captured across the domains of practice. If controls are part of the brief for a project, or if management of lighting is part of the desired outcome, then that needs to be demonstrated in the work a designer can do.
LIGHTING COMMUNITY ISSUES
IN SOME OF THE "WHY CERTIFY" LANGUAGE THE IALD HAS USED, IT MENTIONS "EXTERNAL INTERFERENCE" AS A REASON TO DEVELOP A CERTIFICATION. WHO OR WHAT WOULD BE THAT THREAT?
When the credentialing industry discusses "external interference," it is referring to potential regulation that might be thrust upon an industry against its will. Rather than allowing government or regulatory bodies to determine the scope of the architectural lighting design profession, it is imperative that the profession defines its own capabilities and work.
HOW WILL THE LC CERTIFICATION INFORM THE BASIS OF THIS INTERNATIONAL CREDENTIAL?
The National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions' (NCQLP) Lighting Certified (LC) exam is a technical examination not intended to address lighting design, and is predominant mainly in North America. The task force intends to develop an international certification focusing on lighting design; so the LC is not an ideal model for the task force's work, although many lighting designers may choose to apply for both the LC and the proposed certification.