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).

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 10 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 Board Vice President and is the Chief Evaluator for the New England region. NESAW has been a leader in testing the new standards for the past eight 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 Cabinetmaking Intensive Program and will continue to help test and refine the standards and evaluation process in the future.

In early 2011, the program 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 earn a credential. The WCA requires being assessed on 15 tool operations and 800 hours of either classroom or on the job experience to qualify for the first (green) level credential. Alternatively, students can earn a Sawblade Certificate by being assessed on 5 tools and passing a written test. Any hours earned during school can be applied to a future green level credential.

NESAW is a WCA EDUcation member school and our students in the Cabinetmaking Intensive are automatically enrolled in the WCA as an Individual Member unless they opt out, and are able to test for a Sawblade Certificate and earn 320 hours towards a future credential using the 10 free assessment credits that come with an Individual Membership. The assessments will be done as part of the standard curriculum. Students have the option to return to NESAW in the future to be further assessed on more tools to earn a green or blue credential after they have earned more experience hours working in the field.