Masters of Code: Chris Thompson achieves the gold standard of code certification
It’s considered the Ph.D. of building safety codes certification. The Master Code Professional (MCP) is the highest level of designation the International Code Council offers and is the “gold standard” for demonstrating proficiency in the code profession. The Code Council has certified thousands of individuals, but only a small select number have attained this high level of achievement: just over 900 MCP professionals worldwide. Their achievements are a benefit to the code enforcement profession as well as their communities.
To obtain this level of certification requires and demonstrates a commitment to the profession, diverse knowledge of codes and a high level of self-initiative. Chris Thompson, deputy community development director and building official, for the city of Tempe, is the latest to join the elite group of Master Code Professionals. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Chris to share his experience on obtaining the MCP designation, highlights of his professional career and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry.
Deputy Community Development Director / Building Official
Building Safety Division
Tempe, Arizona, United States
International Code Council member for 25 years
Arizona Building Officials Central Chapter
BSJ: What led you to pursue and obtain MCP certification?
Thompson: With only a degree in “hard knocks” from the “School of Construction Workers,” I wanted something that kind of leveled the playing field with the formally educated folks in the building department/government management. The CBO, along with a desire to serve, and my construction background, has been my ticket to a great 25-year career. I started as a “temporary” building inspector in 1994 and worked my way through the ranks to lead the Building Safety Division of the city of Tempe Community Development Department.
BSJ: How did you study and prepare for the many exams you took as a part of your MCP designation?
Thompson: One at a time, I read everything I could get my hands on whatever the subject matter was. I picked the brains of senior members of our inspection and plan review teams, listened to audiotapes, took classes at the community college, and took classes offered by different trade union halls. I would walk through buildings under construction and try and put the code’s words into pictures that I could see and touch.
BSJ: What does achieving the prestigious MCP status mean to you?
Thompson: It gives me a great feeling of accomplishment in knowing I worked hard for something and all that hard work and sacrifice has paid off.
BSJ: How would you describe the value or benefits that have come with the recognition of your MCP status?
Thompson: It was a major part of me being successful in obtaining my position as the building official for the city of Tempe. I was chosen for my real-world experience and the MCP validated my technical expertise.
BSJ: What advice would you offer to those who are considering pursuing an MCP designation?
Thompson: Do it! Nothing but good can come from it and it just might be the ticket that gets you in the door for that next promotion.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Thompson: 25 years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Thompson: How we deliver the service of building code enforcement. Technology has made it so much easier to communicate with our customers and really aided us in being a partner in the building process.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Thompson: I don’t know if I’d say it’s excitement. It’s more like apprehension, there’s just not a lot of people looking to take our places as we retire. Where’s the next generation of code officials going to come from?
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Thompson: Set a goal of obtaining at least one certification a year.
BSJ: Building safety is the focal point of our mission here at the Code Council. What is the importance of building safety to you? How has ICC helped you in your career and commitment to public safety?
Thompson: Intent. I believe we must understand the intent of the code as it applies to the particular issue at hand in order to be a good code official.
BSJ: Obtaining all those ICC certifications is quite an accomplishment. What are you going to do now that you have achieved this goal?
Thompson: Continue to apply my craft and help the next generation of code officials, through mentoring, inspiring and teaching.
BSJ: Thank you, Chris, and congratulations. You have definitely been an encouragement to us all in your pursuit of excellence.
To earn the Code Council’s elite MCP designation, a candidate must first pass 10 core Code Council exams plus a number of elective Code Council exams. Typical Master Code Professionals hold 17 or more Code Council certifications. The Master Code Professional designation requires certified individuals to complete an additional 60 hours of Continuing Education Units every three years to maintain active status.
“The Master Code Professional certification is the pinnacle of all Code Council certifications, representing a level of effort, knowledge, and dedication that elevates not only the individual achieving it but the code official profession as a whole,” said Code Council Chief Executive Officer Dominic Sims, CBO.
Master Code Professionals are typically responsible for all technical and management aspects of code enforcement with duties that range from the management of a code enforcement department to the supervision of inspectors and plan reviewers.
“Congratulations to Chris on achieving this important and significant accomplishment,” said Autumn Saylor, program services manager of the Code Council’s Assessment Center. “I challenge and encourage all code professionals to strive for this level of achievement, and I look forward to congratulating more Master Code Professionals in the future.”
To learn more about how you can join this elite group and let us help you open the door to increased professional challenges and career advancement, click here.