One of the mystifying aspects of the Property Condition Assessment industry is the conceit of many licensed “professionals” and how many of them snootily look down their crinkly nose at those in the field that are not licensed engineers or architects. Some of the most difficult people I’ve worked with have been licensed engineers who were know-it-alls and were unable to work with a project team consisting of those deemed inferior to their license-confirmed masterful intellect.

I have found that experience matters much more than having a license and slapping some acronym after the formal name that only your mother calls you. Maybe I feel this way because my first apprenticeship was with a very old licensed architect that routinely dozed off at his desk every afternoon… Or perhaps I’ve been in one too many large consulting firms and watched as hoity-toity licensed staff approach an assessment believing they “know” what to expect at a facility. Unfortunately, the result of this type of approach is often an engineer seeing only what they expected to see. The instant we start believing we know virtually everything there is to know about a given type of facility is when we start missing pertinent site-specific data or deficiencies and short-changing our client.

Some of the most talented people I’ve ever worked with do not have any licenses other than the one that allows them to legally drive their car and they probably never will. I’m of the belief that actual field and report writing experience while working with smart men and women that challenge you to do your best is much more important that having put in enough time and being able to take tests successfully to earn a license. In our field, forums like Commonground or certain discussion groups on LinkedIn are great for gaining knowledge and learning from experienced staff.

Sure, there are professionals holding certain licenses that are best suited for certain detailed assessments and assignments, such as structural or civil engineers with experience in preparing seismic probable maximum loss (PML) assessments. But to think that just because someone has a license he or she will do a good job of evaluating field conditions or actually act “professionally” as a leader of a project team is crazy. I’ve witnessed too many boneheaded actions by licensed ne’er-do-wells – The McSnootersons of our industry – to think this at this point in my career.

At McClain Consulting Services, we have both licensed engineers with facility assessment experience as well as staff who have decades of invaluable experience but don’t happen to be licensed. We work hard on making sure that the right staff member works on the projects that are right for them so that our client will be ecstatically satisfied. And, not surprisingly, we try to avoid the McSnootersons of the world that have that precious and much ballyhooed license but little common sense.