Michael Doherty is the youngest to achieve Master Code Professional designation
Michael Doherty, plans examiner for the town of Addison, Texas, joins an elite group of individuals who have obtained their Master Code Professional (MCP) certification. But what makes Doherty’s certification especially impressive was his ability to achieve it at the age of 23 and within only three and a half years — officially making him the youngest International Code Council professional to attain this prestigious designation.
You could say Doherty was born into the building code field. “I grew up with family and friends who were in the building code services business,” said Doherty. “I’ve been around building codes my whole life.” But it was his personal goal to “master it” as he set out to complete his MCP certification and a college degree at the same time.
“It takes a special person to complete their certification at such a young age,” said Bill Elliott, building official for the town of Addison, Texas, where Doherty serves as the plans examiner. “Michael seems to be focused, very smart and he is working hard.” Nine months after starting as the plans examiner, Doherty received his MCP certification in February 2020.
Doherty’s path to MCP certification
One of the factors behind Doherty’s drive to pursue his certification was seeing how certifications helped his family advance in their careers. Doherty’s path to MCP certification began at age 19, but his interest in building codes started when he was a child.
He grew up in Abbeville, La., a small parish about 150 miles west of New Orleans. He remembers conversations with family members who were third-party providers in municipal contracting for code services. Building codes are in his blood; he grew up with an interest and knowledge of codes and building safety and decided to pursue it as his career.
In 2016, Doherty started his certification courses while attending LeTourneau University in Texas. He started on the commercial track then went on to the certified building official track because, in Louisiana, inspection certifications are recognized and recorded by the state. At that time, he assumed he would remain in Louisiana after completing college.
However, following his senior year of college and during the economic challenges faced by Louisiana, Doherty began working as a building inspector in Decatur, Texas, a suburb city approximately 25 miles northwest of Fort Worth that is rapidly expanding. He worked as a building code inspector for a total of 11 months before joining the town of Addison as its plans examiner where he is in the unique position to review and apply building codes to the town’s mostly commercial projects.
While in school, he took a majority of his certifications over the summer months when he could devote more time to studying. As he completed certifications, it became clear to Doherty that certifications build on each other. “Whether it’s plumbing, electrical or mechanical, they all tie together,” said Doherty. With this in mind, he suggests to “keep a broad scope on the entire family of code, which can help you become more knowledgeable and valuable.”
Reaching the pinnacle of building code knowledge
Doherty attributes his MCP certification accomplishment with having a laser-sharp focus and creating steps on how and when he was going to go about completing the certification. For Doherty, outlining the steps made it easier for him to stay focused and on track.
Now, as a plans examiner, Doherty believes MCP certification plays a vital role in advancing his career. “It gives me the opportunity to master the applicability of building code, and it gives me the ability to do my job really, really well,” said Doherty.
His intent to master the building codes underscores his belief in how codes can save lives. “Applying code standards preserves and extends life – it increases the health and wellness of an entire community,” said Doherty.
Doherty is excited about automation’s role in the future of the building code industry. “I’d love to see how things get tied into CAD [computer-aided design] programs,” exclaimed Doherty. In looking ahead to his future, Doherty is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering – with a long-term goal of transferring to the University of Texas at Dallas to complete the degree. He intends to use his degree to continue serving in the building code industry to build a safer world for everyone.