When you hand your business cards to clients will they recognize the initials CIT, CIC, CLIA, CID and CLWM behind your name? Will they consider them significant? Relatedly (and perhaps the most important question on our mind), will they contribute to your reputation as an excellent landscape irrigation provider and to the financial success of your business?

These are legitimate questions given the expense, time and effort required of you to gain the knowledge leading to these professional certifications.

The answer to every one of these questions, of course, is that it is up to each of you in the irrigation business to what extent you reap their full benefits.

You as a professional landscape water manager establish the value of these acronyms to prospects and clients based on the quality of the service you provide and the clarity of your message.

We’re referring, of course, to the certifications that the Irrigation Association promotes and offers to landscape professionals. The Fairfax, Virginia-based association, in its 68th year, now offers seven different green industry certification programs for green industry professionals — six for contractors and one for golf.

The IA offers the following irrigation certifications for contractors specializing in turf and landscape irrigation:

  • Certified Irrigation Technicians (CIT) are entry-level technicians who install, maintain and repair irrigation systems.
  • Certified Irrigation Contractors (CIC) are experienced business owners who execute irrigation projects to install, maintain and repair irrigation systems.
  • Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors (CLIA) gather irrigation water-use data and test landscape irrigation systems.
  • Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors-Drip (CLIA) gather irrigation water-use data and test drip or low-volume landscape irrigation systems.
  • Certified Irrigation Designers (CID) establish specifications and design drawings for landscape irrigation projects. The IA certifies irrigation designers in three landscape specialties: commercial, golf course and residential irrigation.
  • Certified Landscape Water Managers (CLWM) evaluate, operate, manage and improve landscape irrigation systems to achieve the highest possible level of water conservation.

Clover Beliz, IA’s professional development director, says today there are about 2,500 individuals holding at least one IA landscape irrigation certification; the newest is the 3-year-old CIT. Since some irrigation professionals have earned more than one certification, the IA estimates about 3,500 industry certifications in total.

While these numbers may seem large to the public, it is relatively small given the tens of thousands of U.S. contractors offering irrigation services. Earning an IA certification is obviously no slam-dunk. If you are an IA-certified irrigator, count yourself among the best in the industry.