Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is ACT?

A: “ACT” stands for Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers. It is a new set of certifications developed and administered by a consortium of tile industry organizations that distinguish tile installers who have exhibited and proven their advanced knowledge and skills relative to one or more specialty areas of the tile installation craft.

Q: Why have these organizations initiated the ACT program?

A: The major tile industry organizations recognize the importance of qualified installers and the role that the installers play in the success of any commercial or residential tile project. Both tile contractor associations, TCAA and NTCA, have their respective contractor certification programs, but those certifications are held by the Tile Contractor and not the Installer. Recent editions of the TCNA Handbook and Arcom MasterSpec recommend requiring qualified tile installers. The ACT program will provide one method of qualifying tile installers for different advanced areas of installation.

Q: Which tile industry organizations are involved in developing and administering the ACT certifications?

A: Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), providing training and certification for tile installers.

Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA), representing IUBAC signatory tile contractors.

International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), whose members are skilled tile setters who have completed multi-year apprenticeship as well as other trained masonry craftworkers.

International Masonry Institute (IMI), which provides professional and technical training for union tile setters and tile contractors, as well as other masonry craftworkers and contractors.

National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), with membership open to all tile contracting companies.

Tile Council of North America (TCNA), whose manufacturer member companies contribute to the development of the modules and tests.

Q: What are the specialty areas of Advanced Certifications?

A: Currently the advanced certifications are:

  • Large Format Tile Floors / Substrate Preparation
  • Mud Work
  • Showers
  • Membranes

Q: Who will hold the certification?

A: Certifications are not held by the tile contractor or the employer, rather they are held by the individual Installer upon completion of the certification.

Q: Are there any other advanced certifications?

A: Currently the ACT certifications are limited to the four listed above. The ACT Advisory Committee anticipates that certifications in additional advanced skills will be added to the program in the near future.

Q: Can an installer hold more than one advanced certification?

A: An installer can hold one or more advanced certification. Each ACT certification is a stand-alone unit, allowing the installer to tailor training to meet individual or company needs.

Q: 8. What are the criteria for an installer to become certified in one of the advanced skills?

A: In order to be eligible for certification, an installer must meet these criteria:

  • Meet the prerequisite of being an experienced installer
  • Pass a written exam
  • Pass a practical hands-on test

Q: What defines the prerequisite of being an experienced Installer?

A: Installer has completed a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program as offered by IUBAC and IMI; or installer has been certified through the CTEF-Certified Tile Installer program.

Q: Once the prerequisite is met, what are the formats of the written and practical tests?

A: The written and practical tests are administered by IMI for union installers.

The written test examines the installer’s knowledge on the certification topic as documented in relevant ANSI standards, TCNA Handbook, and best industry practices.  There may be 25 to 50 multiple choice questions.  The installer must pass the written test to be eligible to take the hands-on test.

The practical hands-on test is administered in person at an IMI training center, manufacturer’s warehouse, or other pre-determined location.  The installer is given a pre-constructed module (e.g. shower base, subfloor, etc.) and will install the designated components of that certification’s system on the module.  Either one half-day or one full day is allocated for the hands-on test, depending on the certification.  Upon completion, the installer is evaluated for conformance with stated ANSI standards, TCNA methods, and other stated installation criteria.

If the installer passes the written and practical tests, he/she is awarded the ACT certification for that specialty task.

Q: Who grades / evaluates the Installers on the hands-on test?

A: A team of qualified evaluators will grade the work product of the installer’s hands-on test. Evaluators will be senior level, experienced tile contractors, journeyman tile setters, apprentice instructors, or other experienced members of the tile industry. Eventually it will be a requirement for ACT evaluators to hold an ACT certification in the area for which they are serving as evaluator.

Q: Who keeps track of ACT certified installers?

A: Utilizing the existing data base structure of IMI and CTEF, The ACT advisory board maintains a listing of Installers who have successfully completed each of the ACT certifications. This information will be available to designers, contractors, and end users. :

Q: I am a Tile Installer and would like to become ACT Certified. (Or, I am a contractor and would similar to send my key men to become certified). How do I register?

A:To be considered for ACT certification, an installer must be endorsed or sponsored by his/her employer.  IMI maintains testing schedules and a list of testing sites for BAC installers.  Visit or call 1-800-JOBS-IMI.

Q: I am Tile Contractor bidding on a project that requires ACT certified installers in large format tile. How many men on my crew must hold this ACT certification? 

A: You must have at least one full time employee on this job crew that holds the certification.

Q: I am an architect / designer. How will ACT benefit my project?

A: By requiring installers with one or more ACT certification, you can be assured that the installers on your project have proven their advanced skills and knowledge of this area of the craft, and you should expect nothing less than a premium installation and performance.

Q: I am a tile contractor. How will ACT benefit my business?

A: By certifying your key installers in the ACT certifications, you will be part of an elite group of contractors eligible to bid projects requiring ACT certified installers. With a movement toward increased focus on quality installation practices, your designation as an employer of ACT certified installers will support and enhance your company’s other certifications such as Trowel of Excellence, positioning your company as a leader in the tile industry and opening doors for increased work opportunities.

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