Masters of Code: Michael Doherty 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. Michael Doherty is the latest to join the elite group of Master Code Professionals. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Michael to share his experience on obtaining the MCP designation, highlights of his professional career and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry.
Addison, Texas, United States
International Code Council member for two years
BSJ: What led you to pursue and obtain MCP certification?
Doherty: I began my journey into building codes near the time Hurricane Katrina fundamentally changed building code standards in my home state of Louisiana. At that time, I learned the importance of building codes and wanted to learn more. With the great demand for building code professionals in the state, I decided to pursue it professionally and with the guidance of some other industry professionals, decided to set out to achieve CBO certification. After two years of training and certification, I had achieved the CBO certification and was looking for the next challenge. I found that challenge in the steps required for the MCP.
BSJ: How did you study and prepare for the many exams you took as a part of your MCP designation?
Doherty: Learning the building codes are a real challenge as some concepts are difficult to grasp and apply effectively. I found the Code Council’s suite of resources helpful as well as some other publications that speak in detail to some of the broader concepts contained in the I-Codes. Learning the code itself, however, was not enough; the speed in reference and application truly made the exams challenging and only sustained, constant practice built the skill required to master the material.
BSJ: What does achieving the prestigious MCP status mean to you?
Doherty: Achieving the MCP designation ensures me and the community that I serve that I am able to effectively administer excellence in safe construction practices. Several years of work are usually required, as in my case, to learn the material. Looking back, I am amazed at where I began and where I am now professionally and the milestone that is achieving the MCP.
BSJ: How would you describe the value or benefits that have come with the recognition of your MCP status?
Doherty: The value that I have seen in achieving the MCP is a firm grounding in the code that ensures outstanding interpretation and application of the code. In the building code industry, achieving the highest level of certification I believe will propel my career further and improve the public trust in the organizations that I serve.
BSJ: What advice would you offer to those who are considering pursuing an MCP designation?
Doherty: In my opinion, without a plan success will not be achieved. Having a plan in place is essential for anyone pursuing the MCP designation and makes the seemingly daunting task of achieving the MCP manageable.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Doherty: Four years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Doherty: Over the years, I have not seen as many dramatic shifts as I did at the beginning of my career. Progress seems to have been slow and steady over the past few years with only minor changes of note.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Doherty: I am excited about the implementation of entry-level programs and technology in the building code industry. These are two major items that I believe the building code industry has failed to achieve across the board. The first is the inclusion of a younger workforce and the second is the automation of processes. I am eager to see progress made in both of these areas because the entire industry will benefit.
Currently, there are very few career paths that lead to successful building code fields. The workforce involved in the application of building codes is aging and has been for some time. I believe some initiatives will increase younger generations’ participation in the industry. As the Code Council continues its advancement in providing more resources to its members, I am excited about advancements that can be made in the recruitment of entry-level professionals.
Technology and building codes, I feel, have been at odds for some time. Implementation of building codes through a completely digital field has not been easy and access to building codes is just now becoming available. It is essential for the codes to be applied digitally to designs in the future. The time and effort saved for every design professional will be tremendous and create higher compliance designs across the board.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Doherty: Every individual entering the industry must have a plan for achievement and constant education. It is essential to set goals and the associated steps in order to achieve in this industry. Constant education is important for everyone not just those entering the industry and the benefit therein is obvious. As time goes on, products change and methods will follow. Code officials must work to stay ahead of the curve as much as possible and in doing so your career will advance itself.
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?
Doherty: I have personally experienced the large-scale lack of building codes and standards in my early career in Louisiana. Upon implementation of ICC building codes in the state, the safety of communities increased tremendously and the quality of construction was also brought up. Therefore, the importance of building safety has been a first-hand experience for me and I hope to see greater implementation of building safety methods throughout the world.
In my career, the implementation of building codes is only as good as the organization and individuals enforcing the measures. The training and certification provided by the ICC are excellent and have provided the level of educational opportunities that I needed to effectively provide code interpretation and application. Achieving the MCP certification level has propelled my career forward and distinguished my ability to interpret the code.
BSJ: Obtaining all those ICC certifications is quite an accomplishment. What are you going to do now that you have achieved this goal?
Doherty: Having achieved the highest level of certification that is possible, I am adjusting my focus more towards the design rather than regulation of building. I am very interested in mechanical engineering and am pursuing that field. I believe that any field of engineering is able to provide reasoning for building codes and effectively develop it to build a safer world.
BSJ: Thank you, Michael, 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 Michael 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.