Woodwork Career Alliance Credentialing Program

Since 2010, NESAW has been proud to be on the forefront of an effort to develop a credentialing program for the woodworking industry. The Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) is a partnership between industry, education and government (funded by the U.S. Forest Service, AWI, and industry partners). The group recently introduced the Woodwork Passport, a portable, permanent record of a woodworker’s level of competency in woodworking operations.

At the heart of this exciting effort is the Woodwork Manufacturing Skill Standards, a set of observable, measurable criteria for over 50 woodworking tools and hundreds of operations for the evaluation of woodworking professionals and students that participate in the program. As candidates are assessed on an individual tool skill, they receive a stamp in their passport, which eventually leads to the first of multiple levels of credentialing.

As a member of the national board of directors of the WCA for the past three years, NESAW Director Greg Larson has led one of a number of teams of industry and education volunteers from across the country who have helped write the standards. He is also currently serving as the WCA Chief Evaluator for the New England region. NESAW has been a leader in testing the new standards for the past three years by making them part of the student evaluation process and providing feedback based on the real world environment emulated in the classroom. We have also integrated the standards permanently into our Architectural Woodworking Program and will continue to help test and refine the standards and evaluation process in the future.

In early 2011, the Woodwork Passport was officially offered for purchase by the WCA and NESAW’s class of 2010/2011 was one of the first groups in the country given the opportunity to purchase a passport and receive stamps in their passport. The WCA requires 30 tool stamps and 800 hours of either classroom or on the job experience to qualify for the first (green) level credential. NESAW students accumulate more than 800 hours in the classroom by graduation which qualifies them for a green credential if they choose to purchase a passport and earn the required tool stamps.

NESAW students have the option to join the WCA and test for their credential as part of the Architectural Woodworking Program. Some of the assessments will be done as part of the standard curriculum, and the remainder will be performed outside of class. Since NESAW is also a WCA member school, any of our students who purchase a passport will receive 10 free assessment credits; a $100 savings. The cost for a student to test for a green credential is $195, subject to change.