The International Fluid Power Society provides training and certification for nearly every facet of fluid power expertise. Although they don’t provide university degrees in fluid power, they have the educational resources to prepare students and employees for their certification exams. The certifications achieved give employers and customers the peace of mind knowing the person whom achieved the qualification has a minimum level of education and understanding in the sub-field of fluid power spelled on the certificate.
IFPS provides certifications for mechanics, technicians, designers and engineers in the sub-fields of industrial hydraulics, mobile hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics, to name a few. One can achieve a certification of Certified Fluid Power Mobile Hydraulic Mechanic (CFPMHM), but if the similar certifications are achieved in pneumatics and industrial hydraulics, one will receive the Certified Fluid Power Master Mechanic (CFPMM) designation. The number of certifications is too vast to cover in a blog entry, but you can find more details here.
There appears to be an unfortunate generational gap of distrust between two schools of thought regarding IFPS certification, not unlike those whom think internet dating is for “losers” and those whom have met their soul mate on an internet dating site and don't care what others think (I am one of those losers … I met my wife online).
I have met many individuals who feel the IFPS certifications can be had through a Cracker Jack box and aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Naysayers claim tests can be whizzed in minutes by any chimpanzee with pen. I wish I knew what one of the IFPS tests looked like from twenty years ago, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Before I took my test to achieve Certified Fluid Power Hydraulic Specialist, I completed a review course to cover the material reported to be on the test. My instructor, Doug Daniels, was fantastic, and I learned as much or more in that review course as I did while in school. I should point out that I’m the kind of nerd that sits at the front of the class, raising my hand often in hopes of having my questions answered as quickly as they popped into my head.
The last day of class was also the day of the IFPS exam, although a third party proctor was present to replace Doug in classroom supervision. I wish I knew what lead some to feel these tests are easy, but I can assure you they’re not. Half my class were on their second time around taking the test, which is the first clue it’s not easy, and one fellow was on his fourth attempt at a passing score. Perhaps part of the difficulty is that a pass is 70%. Also, the Hydraulic Specialist is a math-heavy certification; if you cannot manipulate algebraic equations, you really should take a course in math to refresh to high-school level.
The exam is scheduled to last three hours, although I don’t have the datum on how many students weren’t able to complete the test because, if you’ll allow me to be “bragadocious,” I finished it in forty five minutes. This sounds a little contradictory, because I just implied it was easy, and I’m not claiming to be a hydraulics savant, but rather that I’m just a big nerd who studied his arse off.
If you’re reading this and feel it’s not worth the certification, let me tell you how wrong you are. It’s not just about having the pretty certificate or the title after your name, it’s about the guarantee you have an above average level of fluid power knowledge comparable to others in the industry. Very few can take and pass the exam without first studying for it, and in the process of studying (especially if you took a refresher course), you learn or relearn information helpful to your career and employer.