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January 25, 2024

Build a strong restoration foundation with these 7 IICRC courses

KrisRRound2-1Kris Rzesnoski is a Certified Restorer and VP at Encircle. He helps guide the technical development of Encircle’s solutions to help contractors improve productivity and profitability.

Kris Rzesnoski has been a restorer for 20 years and in that time, he’s the first to admit he's spent a lot of money on technical education.

Fortunately, he doesn't regret it for a second. To become a master of your craft, you've got to want to learn—especially in an industry as dynamic as restoration.

“There’s never been a course I’ve taken in this industry, where I haven’t been able to walk away and make more money from that education. You can either look at it as an expense or look at it as an investment in your business.”

Knowledge is power

The drive to gain technical knowledge will help you rise above the rest. You'll help people get their lives back together more efficiently, while building a strong reputation as a reliable, and knowledgeable restoration business. By investing in your education, you’ll also improve your profits, even if you don’t quite have a solid process mapped out yet. You'll take less hits to the bottom line even if you are flying by the seat of your pants.

Not ready to drop mad cash but still interested in investing in your education?

OSHA & IICRC courses that deliver the most bang for buck:

1. Health and Safety Technician (HST)

No prerequisites.
Cost: $500-700 USD
Length: 1-2 days
Certification options: Live stream or in-person.

In this two-day course you’ll gain foundational awareness of the health and safety principles surrounding the hazards you might encounter in the restoration and cleaning industry, and learn how to control them. The focus will be on eliminating, reducing, and controlling hazards instead of just regulatory compliance.

Topics include: OSHA standards, inspections, citations and penalties, PPE gear, hazard communication, confined spaces, blood-borne pathogens.

It's crucial to learn how to properly perform work in accordance with the law and keep yourself and your team safe. The takeaways you’ll get from the HST will impact how you plan the work on each of your projects, and how you’ll charge for it.


No prerequisites.
Cost: $180-300 USD
Length: 24-40 hours
Certification options: Online.

This course is great because it’s offered in various lengths: 24 or 40 hours. Plus, once you complete the baseline cert, you can take a simple 8 hour refresher each year to stay up to date at $150 USD (the deadline is the anniversary of your issue date).

Rzesnoski recommends the 40 hour course to sufficiently prepare for with the hazards you will face in restoration. It is a requirement for employees working on any project that could entail uncontrolled hazardous waste. For those involved in clean-up operations, disposal, emergency response operations, storage, and treatment of hazardous substances, it's a no-brainer. You can learn more specifically what would be covered here.

The HAZWOPER will help you assess the amount of risk a job presents, and impact how you decide to charge for your services, directly tying into your profitability.

Water jobs. What are the best courses to get your feet wet?

According to the Cleanfax's 2022 Restoration Benchmarking Survey, 97% of those polled offer water damage restoration services, 65% noting it as the most profitable service offering. It's no coincidence restorers need to understand water damage, especially since the standards are always evolving. The S500 water standards have changed twice since 2014 alone. If a water mitigation job is carried out incorrectly, it can have serious and costly consequences.

ANSI/IICRC S500 Standard for Professional Water Damage Restoration (2021) standards here, or stay up to date on current restoration-related standards here.

3. Water Restoration Technician (WRT)

No prerequisites.
Cost: $500-$750 USD
Length: 3 days
Certification options: Live-stream or in-person.

The WRT will provide you with a fundamental understanding of water damage, its effects, and the techniques that should be used to dry structures. Once you receive the WRT, you can complete a water loss in a residential home, explain to an adjuster the proper procedures and differences for a Category 2 versus 3 loss, and identify and change drying plans based on restorative drying science. You’ll learn different procedures to deal with water losses, how to handle sewer backflows, and mold.

4. Applied Structural Drying (ASD)

Prerequisite: You must obtain your WRT before taking this certification.
Cost: $1100 - $1700 USD
Length: 3-4 days
Certification options: In-person only.

The ASD is a deeper dive into the science behind structural drying. Upon completion you'll be able to prove your company’s proficiency in mitigation practices and industry standards, pursue partnerships with Third Party Administrators (TPAs), and assure your customers that when a job is completed, it’s done in accordance with recognized industry standards.

If water damage standards can be rewritten and republished twice in 6 years, it's clear that if you’re relying on a course you took 8 years ago, it's time to brush up. If your knowledge is outdated, you're potentially exposing yourself to liabilities, and you're most certainly leaving money on the table.

Fire/odor certifications that will help you bring the heat:

5. Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Technician (FSRT)

No prerequisites.
Cost: $500-750 USD
Length: 3 days
Certification options: Live stream or in-person.

The FSRT certification covers scoping, mitigation, cleaning, deodorization, subrogation, spoliation, and the documentation of residential and commercial fire and smoke damaged structures and contents. Upon completing this certification, you're prepared to perform and document cleaning and deodorization of typical residential or commercial fire and smoke damage projects.

6. Odor Control Technician (OCT)

No prerequisites
Cost: $200-400 USD
Length: 1 day
Certification options: Live stream or in-person.

The OCT course will cover olfaction and odor, odor sources, detection process, theory of odor control, equipment, and chemical options and applications. In it you’ll learn to address odors caused from biological sources such as decomposition, urine contamination, and mold, as well as combustion sources such as fire and smoke damage, and chemical sources such as fuel oil spills or volatile organic chemicals.

Mold is gold. Stay on top of your microbial knowledge.

7. Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT)

Prerequisites: You must obtain the WRT before taking this certification.
Cost: $1200-1750 USD
Length: 4 day course
Certification options: In-person only.

Any time you take on water jobs, you’re obviously dealing with water in various conditions. You’re going to deal with mold and contaminated environments; better to get a jump on learning as much as you can.

The AMRT certification’s emphasis is placed on mold and sewage remediation techniques. Safety is key; the AMRT will help you demonstrate that you know how to perform remediation services and protect the health and safety of workers and occupants.

Learn, relearn, and apply

Obviously, you’re held to the standards of the IICRC in flooring, repair, and contents, so the goal is to get all your designations as fast as possible. However, these are the top 7 STAPLES to building a good foundation for your education. Rzesnoski suggests taking them over every couple of years with different instructors—after all, different trainers will provide different insights.

He puts it, “the first time taking a course, you’ll learn the basics so as not to screw up. The next time, with a little more experience under your belt, you’ll start picking up advantages and knowing how to implement them into your own business.”

Do your best to stay up to date. The industry provides ample opportunity for Continuing Education Credits (CECs). There is an abundance of tools at your disposal: webinars, online learning platforms, dedicated industry publications, trade shows, online communities etc.

Take advantage of opportunities to network with other restoration professionals, techs, PMs… heck it’s even good to know what your competitors are up to! Build relationships with instructors—they have a wealth of knowledge, and they’re itching to give back to the industry. Don't be afraid to reach out, if you have a burning restoration question, shoot Kris an email.

Still not sold on heading back to school?

In Rzesnoski’s experience, the way that most owners have gotten their business into trouble is by not knowing how to charge properly for their work—not understanding the costs it will take to do things right. As a result they often end up cutting their own profits down at the knees. Chances are if your invoices are getting reduced it's because you don’t know how use education to defend yourself.

Harness technology and the education opportunities available to learn how to defend yourself and the actions that you take. Not doing so could expose you to liabilities and squander opportunities to make more money.

Interested in learning more? Check out our Resource Center!


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