I am in the process of doing it but haven't gotten it completed yet (its kind of on the back burner right now). I went to the symposium in Wellington back in dec 2007 (which thankfully they are allowing us to use that). I still need to get my references together, renew my CPR training (I believe it is expired, yet another I need to check), fill out form and take the test. I am really hoping that all this is worth it (although I think it is just going to be a somewhat useless credential). I am really just doing it to support the idea of certifications.
I have the CPR/first aid certifications-required for me to coach my IHSA team-and I have the references lined up.....I just haven't been able to take time off from showing/teaching nor have I had the extra money to attend a symposium.
I really feel that trainer and instructor certification is long overdue, and I am more comfortable with it coming from our national federation than from an self proclaimed certification program....but like the previous poster I am afraid that it may be a useless credential, unless instructors and trainers are "required" to have it before they can hang out a shingle. Maybe trainer instructor licences should be issued like trainer/jockey licenses at the race track.
I'm not a trainer, but I'm curious ... what is this certification costing you?
$175 - early registration for the symposium
75 - manual (Is this necessary? Would reading Littauer or Cronin suffice?)
? - travel & lodging for the symposium
? - first aid and CPR certification
? - lost wages while attending symposium and first aid training
Are there any other costs I've missed? Is there a cost to actually take the exam? Is there an annual recertification fee or continuing education requirement?
How much of a discount will insurance companies give to certified instructors? Will the continuing education opportunities available only to certified instructors be free or less expensive than similar educational opportunities available to you? If being listed in the certified trainers database gets you 1 new client per year, what's the value of that? Will USHJA track any metrics that might help make the business case for certification?
I work in a field where certifications are becoming increasingly important -- Several years ago, when certification started to become recognized in my field, I spent $20 on a study guide and $400 (plus a day of my life) on an exam -- I also had to show that I had worked in my field for 3 years and get endorsed by someone who was already certified -- I'm required to complete 40 hours of continuing education (luckily vendor supplied or paid for by my employer) and pay an $85 recertification fee every year -- The certification is now required for me to hold my position, so it's well worth the expense to me -- I know people who have paid as much as $4000 for a prep course to help them pass the exam, and they feel it was well worth it -- I know several people who hadn't kept up their skills who never passed the exam and chose to retire -- I suspect I know people who took the exam more than once in order to pass since the initial pass rate is around 60% -- What makes my certification valuable is the fact that most of the better paying positions in my career field require certification --
For the USHJA certification program to be successful, trainers have to be convinced that the benefits of getting certified outweigh the costs -- It has to pay for itself or open doors to opportunities -- Will BNTs require their assistants to be certified? Would they be willing to help defray the cost of certification for their employees or give them the time off to attend a symposium? Will parents who want to enroll their kids in riding lessons (on the spare day between piano lessons and tennis lessons) somehow be convinced to look for a certified instructor? Will experienced riders relocating to a new area at least start their trainer search by checking out the certified instructors near their new home? (How will USHJA convince these experienced riders of the value of working with a certified trainer?) -- Will insurance discounts be greater than any annual cost to remain certified?
The trainers I've talked to are not yet convinced of the value of certification -- They do seem to want it to work -- I think they're even more irritated by the 'anyone can hang up a shingle' trainers than most clients -- For the industry's sake, I hope USHJA finds a way to make it work --
"I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM
I am a trainer, although I haven't started my certification process yet for a simple reason; I'm pregnant and thought doing the symposium and testing in the same year as having a newborn AND running a business a bit much! But I am looking to do it in the future for sure.
Our local organization really supports it, and every year holds a trainer's symposium in which two trainers who attended the USHJA symposium talk about their experiences. Starting in 2009, our local org created two "scholarships" up for grabs, in which the winners gets their trips to the symposium paid for by the org. As you can see GHJA really encourages trainer education.
I have been to both of our local symposiums, and at this last one in Jan, both receipients were in the process of getting certified. As I understood, USHJA accepts applications up to certain deadlines for a "mass review" so to speak. The details of the deadlines are on the USHJA website. One of our trainers got hers in by the Dec deadline, the other after, so the latter has to wait for the next "mass review" before finding out if she has been accepted.
The former trainer then received a letter of acceptance early to mid Jan, and is now in the process of studying and prepping for the test. She said the manual was included in her studying material. I am looking forward to hearing what she thinks of the test itself.
So right now there probably aren't many certified, although accepted, because the very first acceptance deadline was Dec 09. Anyone in that was accepted then are probably still in the study phase.
Last edited by englishivy; Feb. 4, 2010 at 09:12 AM.
I've been certified with the American Riding Instructors Association since 1994. Throughout my career I was asked by only one parent, what made me qualified to teach her child. (I wish ALL parents would ask that, that would help remove a lot of "shingle-hangers!") I had a whopping 2 students find me via the association website.
That being said, I have no idea how certification may have positively influenced potential students who read my credentials on my website.
From a direct, monetary cost-benefit analysis, it was a feeble investment. However, it was fun pushing myself (you have to take a battery of tests, produce teaching videos, and do an oral exam), and it was great networking. We got close access to industry giants and heroes, I met some wonderful fellow trainers that are friends to this day, and brought home both large and small tweaks to hone an already successful business. One idea in particular that came out of it generated a new, lucrative program offering. So indirectly, yes, it was worth it.
Watching , not leaping as the USHJA goes through the process....
Right now I am planning on taking BHS exams in PA this May. I will be going for the Preliminary Teacher Training test which is as high as you can test for outside of the UK. BHS has the advantage of being a well established organization with representatives, testing facilities, and credentials recognized and requested in many different countries.
I also appreciate their multi disciplinary approach. I feel cross training is suitable (and necessary) for most horses and riders. The USHJA system is young, and the USDF system is not so old either. I am REALLY concerned about the political, 'clickish' nature of the American horse business. And I am concerned about everyone being treated and tested equally in any American system. It's just waaaay tooooo much about who you know in this business. NOT what you know or what you can teach.
It costs me about half to attend the BHS exam close to me, during which I can take the test, than to attend the USHJA symposium. Which, for all the expense incurred, is just one step in the process. They really should move towards making the Symposiums more like the BHS exams. As long as people are spending a big chunk of $ and time traveling, why not have them be able to ride, teach, and test them ??? I would have gone to the first one if that had been the case.
I will have completed my certification once I take the test (which isn't out there yet...) Anyhow, I'll have spent somewhere in the ballpark of a thousand by the time all is said and done with the fees, the symposium and costs associated, etc.
The costs of symposium aren't too bad depending on where you go. Unfortunately I went to the one in Wellington. It was EXPENSIVE- between symposium costs, airfare, transportation, hotel, food, etc, it was probably $1000 or more per person (I took my husband along and he had a good time- he even took diligent notes!!). But it was kind of like a vacation because we were in wellington and you just can't beat 85 degree weather in December! Despite it being expensive for a weekend, I would definitely say it was well worth it- the clinicians were great (Archie Cox, Missy Clarke, and Candice King) and it was a nice way to interact with other professionals.
It took about a year, but I just completed the process including the online test. Each part of the program requirement has merits even if you don't complete the whole process as long as you believe in the value of continuing your education as a trainer. If (granted a big if) you can afford to take 3-4 days off to go to a symposium and can find one that is affordable for you (it will cost $200 -$700 including travel and hotel expenses), it is well worth it. The symposiums give you a chance to audit close to 24 hours of lessons taught by the best of the best in the sport. You can stop there or you can order the TCP Manual and further your education by reading it. It is worth the $75 even if you don't plan to complete the TCP program. You will need the Manual for the open book test even if it is only to clarify the way something is phrased. I recommend tabbing the sections so you can find things when you take the test.
If you are are giving lessons, you really should have and maintain the CPR and insurance anyway. Most hunter-jumper trainers have been USEF members for years, but you will have to give up your amateur status for the TCP. You are probably already a USHJA member if you are teaching and showing hunter-jumpers-equitation.
You will have to submit a resume documenting who you have trained with, who you have worked for, your own show experience and instructing experience, and your commitment to continuing your education as a rider and trainer. If you want to go on to Level II certification you will have to identify any outstanding competitive horses or riders you have produced, and I would guess some "giving back" by clinics, judging or involvement in affiliated associations. You will have to provide 3 letters of recommendation from other Hunter-Jumper professionals who are members of USHJA. They came up with a form for the recommendation letters, which should help alot since most trainers are not thrilled about sitting down and writing letters.
After you have done all of that and been approved to take the test, send them more money and they will let you take the online test. The test is open book and untimed, but once you finish a section, you can't go back to it. Plan on at least 2 hours and maybe much longer if you look up everything in the book but you have as much time as you need.
The test was open book?? I didn't know that--I took it without the book! I did pass it, but it would have been even higher probably had I used the book...I assumed that because it was a test, it was to be taken without the book! Where did it say it was open book?
Hi, How do you get the book to take the online test? The idea is a good one, a system of having a standard for all instructors. Too often people just put an add up and they are "trainers". A system that sets a minium standard of knowledge and skills will help across the board. I live in a rural part of the country and often get students from "trainers" that have no basic background training riders for hunters/equitations/jumpers. A recent student came for a "trial" ride. She got into both stirrups backwards, did not know leads or diagonals and basically just hung on for dear life. She had been riding over two years. If the riding student looking for a trainer could see a standard certification, they could sign up knowing at least the trainer had a good set of basics and could get someone started correctly.
A few years back I managed/owned a rather large lesson/show barn in Wash DC. We had to provide the state with certification for our instructors. I researched and found the CHA. After looking over their information I realized they were not right for us. It took a lot of letters and references but finally the State of Maryland gave me the ability to offer my own Instructor Training and Certification course. We had a very successful program.
It is good to have a standard that gives people with no riding background a place to go and know that they will get a high lever of instruction. I am not sure the USHJA has all the answers, but it is a great start. Perhaps expensive, but I think the certification will help on a local level.
Good Luck to all.
However, it is a process to get certified...you have to first apply for certification, and in order to do that you have to have proof of insurance, proof of CPR/First Aid certification, I believe it is 3 letters of recommendation from other professionals in the industry, have attended a Trainer's Symposium. Once you've been accepted for certification you are sent the book, and then after that you apply for the test and are sent the info to do the test on-line...I think I have it all in the right order, but the best bet is to check the USHJA website; they have all of the info up there.
The details about the process and the test are under the FAQs on the USHJA TCP pages. Most at-home/take home tests are open book since there is no way to monitor the testing situation. Making the test untimed and open book levels the playing field for trainers who may not be the best test-takers or may be older and haven't taken a test in decades. It would take a very long time to finish the test if you had to look everything up, but you would have learned what they want you to learn in the process of looking up the answers. If you took it as a closed book test and didn't pass it, I think everyone is given a second chance to take the test a second time. Look over the FAQs.