While the road to licensure is being redrawn for Florida contractors, service technicians are already plotting their new route.
The Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board has introduced a legislative draft to change license requirements in Florida Statute 489. The new provisions would exclude verified experience and instead require license applications upfront, followed by a one-year internship and up to 180 hours of education.
“The CILB has found that [vouching for experience] is a difficult system in which to prevent fraud,” said Jennifer Hatfield, director of government and public affairs at the Florida Swimming Pool Association. “It’s kind of like doing it backwards — now you apply and then you get your experience.”
Though the changes would have to be approved in Florida’s 2010 legislative session, FSPA already has recommended requirements specifically for pool and spa service contractors. The proposed language would keep the 60 hours of education already mandated and add a 60-hour, hands-on proficiency demonstration course in lieu of the one-year internship.
“This is actually going to be more do-able because a lot of people don’t want to do the one-year [internship], or they can’t find someone who’s willing to let them work for a year,” Hatfield said. “If you make it too difficult, you’re just going to increase all the unlicensed activity.”
So far, CILB has received the recommendations favorably, she added.
The experience or internship stipulation is particularly a disincentive for operators who already run a pool-cleaning business and are looking to become licensed.
“If we do away with [the experience requirement] and go strictly with the education, a guy who’s already got a viable business cleaning a couple of hundred pools can go take the education, get the hands-on training and sit for his test,” said Keith Johnson, who chairs FSPA’s Service Council.
However, the course will be designed for those who already have some skills and abilities within the field rather the complete rookies, he added.
An extra benefit to the hands-on course is the scope of equipment-specific proficiency. Even with an internship, service techs can miss certain aspects of pool maintenance, such as salt systems or ozonators.
“Typically, a service guy can be in the field and not come across various types of equipment or scenarios,” Johnson said. “With hands-on, he’s going to be familiarized with every aspect of the servicing industry.”
FSPA will work with CILB on the course content, but any licensure changes are a ways down the road. In all likelihood, the new requirements wouldn’t take effect until 2011.
Meanwhile, FSPA is still planning recommendations to be submitted for licensing pool builder. These should be ready by CILB’s October meeting.