Masters of Code: Rick Harmon 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. Rick Harmon, building code services operations manager for Barry Isett and Associates, is the latest to join the elite group of Master Code Professionals. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Rick to share his experience on obtaining the MCP designation, highlights of his professional career and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry.
Building Code Services Operations Manager
Barry Isett and Associates
International Code Council member for 12 years
BSJ: What led you to pursue and obtain MCP certification?
Harmon: My years as a commercial developer and contractor kept me in contact with state inspectors. I wanted to fully understand the process and code requirements for my projects. It was a natural progression, for me, to keep achieving the various certifications.
BSJ: How did you study and prepare for the many exams you took as a part of your MCP designation?
Harmon: Lots of reading codebooks, construction journals and learning local municipal regulations.
BSJ: What does achieving the prestigious MCP status mean to you?
Harmon: It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers.
BSJ: How would you describe the value or benefits that have come with the recognition of your MCP status?
Harmon: It’s more about the knowledge gained from the pursuit of the MCP status than the status itself. The knowledge gained by cross-training in all aspects of building code and construction is invaluable.
BSJ: What advice would you offer to those who are considering pursuing an MCP designation?
Harmon: Designate a track of study and stick to it. Try not to jump all over certifications but concentrate on one trade at a time. Do not get discouraged when failing an exam, even multiple times. It will come to you if you keep at it. The first step is to understand the terminology and definitions. The rest will fall in place with study and experience.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Harmon: 14 years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Harmon: The implementation of additional codes in addition to typical building codes that need to be referenced when conducting plan reviews or inspections.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Harmon: The energy code is a huge impact on the building codes. I see alternative energy systems coming into play, especially “net-zero” structures in Washington, D.C., and other major cities.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Harmon: Learning the building code is only a part of being a respected building code professional. The ability to communicate with builders, permit applicants and municipal leaders play a large part in the success of a building code professional. It can sometimes be a delicate balance and must be approached in a highly professional manner.
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?
Harmon: I have learned over the years that building safety is ongoing and does not end with the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy. I have achieved the Certified Fire Marshall certification and Certified Floodplain Manager certification because of my commitment to maintaining safe structures in the communities I serve.
BSJ: Obtaining all those ICC certifications is quite an accomplishment. What are you going to do now that you have achieved this goal?
Harmon: Continue to learn and grow my abilities as an inspector and plan reviewer. I mentor several associates under my supervision in hopes they may also reach the goal of becoming an MCP.
BSJ: Thank you, Rick, 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 Rick 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.