Meet Building Inspector Lucas Pump
The International Code Council has many talented individuals working behind the scenes to develop, maintain and administer Code Council exams. But what is the experience like on the other side? As we approach May — and Building Safety Month — the ICC Assessment Center asked Building Inspector Lucas Pump about his personal experience in preparing for and taking an ICC exam.
Lucas Pump: Property Maintenance and Housing Inspector — I took it January 2010, approximately one month after I started a new position as a housing inspector with the city of Cedar Rapids.
AC: What prompted you to pursue an ICC certification in the first place? Was this a personal decision or a professional requirement?
LP: In my case, it was a professional requirement — our director wanted every inspector to be certified within the first year. Personally, I took it as a challenge, and wanted to get it passed as soon as possible!
AC: How did you prepare for your exam? Were there any particular study tips or tricks that helped you?
LP: First of all, do not read the code thoroughly, intensely paying attention to every detail. There is way too much information to absorb that way. Rather, skim and scan through the table of contents to see how the code is arranged. In an open book test, it is very important to be able to find the answer and find it fast. (Assessment Center note: It is also very helpful to consult the exam’s content outline when studying. Just search for the exam you plan to take on our Exam Catalog and click on the “Outline” section to view.)
AC: If you recall, was there anything that the Code Council could have done to have better helped you in your preparation?
LP: Not really. But I wish someone would have told me to make sure to use the bathroom before you go into your exam because if you have to get up in the middle of your exam, the time keeps ticking.
AC: What was test day like for you? Were you nervous — or do you usually get nervous taking high-stakes tests? Did you talk to others who had taken this exam?
LP: I had spoken with other co-workers who had passed the test, and they reassured me that they thought I would pass it, so that helped my nerves. But, with any test, I think it is normal to be a little nervous.
AC: And… your results?
LP: I passed! I remember feeling very proud afterwards — and a big sense of relief rushed through my body.
AC: Sometimes failure happens, but it gives us an opportunity to gain strength and do better. If you had failed an ICC exam, did you do anything differently to prepare for your retest?
LP: I have only failed one time, and that was the Residential Plans Examiner Certification. I took it a couple weeks after passing a previous exam, and I just thought I could pass it without really studying. That turned out to be a big mistake. As confident as you think you are, always take time to study the material, and be knowledgeable about all of the content. In the end, I was upset that day I failed, but then I turned that energy into motivation. I rescheduled the exam a few weeks later and passed it. If you get kicked off the horse, you just have to dust yourself off, and jump back on!
AC: How did receiving an ICC certification change anything for you as a professional?
LP: I believe that you gain respect from co-workers, and I have since changed over to a building inspector position which has enabled me to dive into new construction, remodels, as well as plans examining.
AC: How many exams have you taken since that first time, and has your preparation or experience changed in any way?
LP: I currently have 20 certifications, and my preparation has stayed relatively the same, although I never spend more than about 20 minutes at one time studying through the code book. Why? It is a proven fact that most people concentrate the best for about 20 minutes — then their learning productivity starts to decrease.
AC: Any suggestions or encouragement you’d like to offer first-time candidates currently preparing for their exam?
LP: Learn the book and know the material. If you are confident with the material in the code book and you know how to find the code sections (because you have reviewed the table of contents and the index). Then, you won’t be as nervous and you will perform better.