Updating Our Program

cleaningUpdating the PSAI Certification Program




The PSAI’s certification program is one of the proud achievements of the organization. Originally launched in the early 1990s, the program was aimed at professionalizing the role of service technicians. Since its inception more than 2,000 people have been certified. Currently, there are 552 active credential holders.

IT’S TIME TO UPDATE. In order for a certification program to remain relevant and useful, it needs to be updated periodically. An important step in the process of keeping a program current is to conduct a Job Analysis. A Job Analysis is a list of tasks essential to the performance of a particular position or profession. The list defines the scope of practice for that profession, according to a consensus of the people who actually do the work – not their supervisors or company owners. The opinions of the supervisors and owners also matter, but we all know there is a big difference between doing a job “in theory” and doing it in reality.

In the portable sanitation industry, we know that many of the supervisors have also personally done the job in the past, so we will be gathering data in a way that allows us to ensure that our analysis can separate input from people who are currently full time service technicians from those who are not. The list of tasks in a Job Analysis is not meant to limit the job performed by those professionals, but to identify the core skills needed for entry into the profession.

The purpose of the Job Analysis, for a certification program like the PSAI’s Certified Portable Sanitation Professional (CPSP), is to determine the knowledge and skills that must be demonstrated by those seeking certification. The skill list is created by a group of people considered experts in the field, and then the items are rated through a survey of a larger number of practicing professionals that reflect the diversity of the identified population. Items that are rated as important or frequently performed by the majority of survey participants are included on the final list of required skills, and the tasks that are rated lower are not included. That final list becomes the blueprint for an update to the CPSP exam. In addition, operators will be able to use the information to update their service technician job descriptions, and the PSAI will be able to develop important new resources such as training programs and materials, to help companies and their workers.

Following this process ensures that the test, or assessment instrument, accurately reflects the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. The examination is intended to measure not only the ability to perform skills, but also the knowledge base behind each skill and the abilities necessary to perform the job competently.

WHAT’S HAPPENED SO FAR. A Job Analysis Committee consisting of Certification Commission members and a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) has been working on reviewing existing information and developing a draft job analysis. The committee consists of five (5) Certification Commission members and six (6) SMEs who all have many years of documented experience and knowledge in the field of portable sanitation. See the box [list the Commission and SMEs in a box near this line- you can find the list of people in the On Site Directory] at right for a list of the committee members.

After requesting job descriptions from the entire PSAI membership and a list of thirty-five (35) nonmember companies, this group reviewed service technician, pick up and delivery driver, and related positions from nineteen (19) portable sanitation companies. In the process we also learned that many, many companies do not have formal job descriptions. This somewhat complicated the analysis. To ensure the committee was operating with the best information available, we made a presentation at the 2015 Nuts and Bolts Educational Conference in Pasadena. At that time the Committee talked about the preliminary information that had been received and asked for feedback from the attendees on how well it represented what actually occurs in the field. The information was then refined and the five dominant knowledge domains were confirmed.

SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE DEVELOPMENT. The job tasks (work activities) from our review of the position descriptions, feedback from attendees at Nuts and Bolts 2015, and input from the SMEs served as the springboards for the development of the 2017 PSAI job analysis survey questionnaire. Eventually the committee reached a consensus on an initial list of 68 tasks to be used on the survey. These tasks were divided into five domains: (1) Transportation and Logistics; (2) Servicing Portable Sanitation Equipment; (3) Safety and Hazard Management; (4) Recordkeeping; and (5) Professional Demeanor and Conduct.

Two rating scales have been developed to rate the 68 job tasks: Frequency and Importance. Respondents will rank each item 1-5 based on their work experience. On the frequency scale (1) means the respondent never does the task and (5) means the respondent does the task frequently – daily or many times a day. On the importance scale, (1) means the task is not at all important to success in the job (defined as receiving positive reviews from supervisors and customers) and (5) means the task matters more than most other things and is critical to job success.

The survey questionnaire was pilot-tested by the Committee in February to ensure the online tool is working correctly and the questions were easy to understand for English speakers. The PSAI Certification Commission then approved the final survey and it is now ready for launch.

  • Currently certified individuals
  • Service technicians
  • Drivers
  • Pick up and delivery staff
  • Yard staff
  • Supervisors/managers of the above positions provided they have personally done the job at least 50% of the time within the last five years



The survey is lengthier than most because it has to ask about every aspect of the job. There’s just no way around it. We estimate it will take approximately 30 minutes for workers whose English reading and comprehension skills are good. It will take a little longer for those whose reading skills are not as well developed.


No, it isn’t. Guidelines from accrediting bodies make validating a certification program extremely cumbersome and costly even in one language. Second language offerings double the cost and time involved, so we are proceeding in English only at this time.


After April 1 it will be available on paper. We can provide printed documents and envelopes for your team on request.


We need enough responses for our sample to be representative of the profession as a whole in English-speaking North America. We would also welcome feedback from other parts of the world, but since 90% of the target audience resides in the US and Canada, it is most important to get a good representation of responses from professionals in small, medium, and large –sized companies from all over. So 500 responses will be great if they are spread among many different companies that are geographically dispersed – and not enough if they are mostly clustered in one part of the country or all from large companies. If everyone takes the time to get their team to fill out the survey, we should have no trouble getting the data we need.


Please contact Karleen Kos, PSAI’s Executive Director (karleenk@PSAI.org or 952-854-8300) if you have questions about the survey instrument and how your group can access it. If you have questions about the process, the Certification Commission, or the SME Advisors, please contact co-chairs Jeff Wigley (wjwigley@bellsouth.net) and Steve Finley (sfinley@ENDUREQUEST.NET).