Masters of Code: Todd Christopher 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. Todd Christopher is the latest to join the elite group of Master Code Professionals. In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Todd to share his experience on obtaining the MCP designation, highlights of his professional career and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry.
Plans Examiner III
Salt Lake City Corporation
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
International Code Council member for four years
BSJ: What led you to pursue and obtain MCP certification?
Christopher: My personality is such that I want to learn as much as I can. Pursuing the MCP certification was really just an afterthought to pursuing the many certifications related to my job.
BSJ: How did you study and prepare for the many exams you took as a part of your MCP designation?
Christopher: I focused on one aspect at a time, using the ICC study guides and online practice exams for each residential exam, then moving on to the commercial exams. My focus was more on becoming familiar with the books and learning how to find the answers in the book quickly rather than learning lots of specific details. For each exam that had an inspector and plans examiner aspect, I took both exams to further cement the information in my mind.
BSJ: What does achieving the prestigious MCP status mean to you?
Christopher: It gives me a sense of pride in the successful completion of a difficult goal. This has not been an easy process but it is well worth it.
BSJ: How would you describe the value or benefits that have come with the recognition of your MCP status?
Christopher: Most code officials, inspectors, and plans examiners are aware of the MCP designation and the work and knowledge that it takes to earn it. I feel a new level of respect from those in the construction and design community, as well as from my peers. I feel it opens doors and opportunities to discuss the codes and work with other professionals to find solutions to difficult problems.
BSJ: What advice would you offer to those who are considering pursuing an MCP designation?
Christopher: Stick with it and don’t give up. Taking extended breaks between exams I found it to be more difficult. Taking exams more closely together I was able to recall previously studied information more easily.
BSJ: How long have you been in the industry?
Christopher: 31 years.
BSJ: What major changes have you seen?
Christopher: The change to digital in all aspects of the industry; from paper drawings to two-dimensional drawings and then to three-dimensional BIM drawings, in design, plan review, estimating and even on the jobsite. Buildings have become smarter and safer. We understand so much more about energy efficiency and natural disasters than we did 30 years ago.
BSJ: What excites you about the future of your industry?
Christopher: The continued integration of technology into the design and building process, as well as into the buildings themselves is very exciting. Emerging technologies for energy conservation and alternative energy sources built-in to the structures are also captivating to me.
BSJ: What is one piece of advice that you would give to those starting out in the industry?
Christopher: Even with all the changes we’ve seen in recent years, this trend will only continue. Always be looking for better, safer and more efficient ways to get the job done.
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?
Christopher: I have been through hurricanes tornadoes, an earthquake, and even a major house fire. Fortunately, I have not experienced the loss of loved ones, but in all cases, better-built structures would have minimized damage to the structure and surrounding property as well as providing occupants with more safety during the event. I am a huge proponent of increasing the safety of the buildings within which we spend the majority of our lives. The difficulty is that additional safety measures while adding value also add to the price tag. Most people don’t understand the value in better-built structures and so I use my personal experiences whenever I can to educate as many as possible.
BSJ: Obtaining all those ICC certifications is quite an accomplishment. What are you going to do now that you have achieved this goal?
Christopher: I’m going to Disney World! Just kidding, I’ve always wanted to say that. My quest for learning won’t quit. I will continue to earn certifications and further study the topics in which I am certified as well as learning about new topics.
BSJ: Thank you, Todd, 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 Todd 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.