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Restoration Certifications 101

Restoration Certifications 101

restoration certifications

Restoration projects, whether involving water damage or fire restoration, require a professional approach backed by expertise and adherence to industry standards. Certifications and licenses play a crucial role in this field, demonstrating competence, ensuring regulatory compliance, and building client trust. Without the proper credentials, restoration companies may face skepticism from clients, scrutiny from insurers, and potential regulatory issues that affect a business’s ability to operate. Obtaining the necessary certifications and licenses is not just about avoiding problems; it’s about setting your employees up for success, confidence, and excellence in every project they undertake. In this guide, we’ll explore the certifications your business and employees need to thrive in the challenging yet rewarding restoration industry.

Understanding State License Requirements

The first type of licensing requirements are those that come from state and local governments. Each state has its own regulations and prerequisites that must be followed. For example, some states require a general contractor license for certain restoration projects, while others mandate registration with the state contractor board. Additionally, some states have specific requirements like mold remediation licenses due to the unique health risks involved. Failing to understand and comply with these requirements can lead to fines, project suspensions, or even loss of business licenses. It’s a complex area that requires the constant attention of restoration companies to maintain compliance.

Location-Specific Certification Considerations

Location plays an important role in determining the certification needs of commercial property restoration companies. Regional factors like climate patterns and natural disaster risks influence the types of certifications prioritized. For example, areas prone to hurricanes or flooding necessitate certifications in water damage restoration and mold remediation, while regions vulnerable to wildfires require expertise in fire damage restoration and smoke remediation. Aligning certifications with local restoration needs allows companies to effectively respond to regional crises and build client/insurer confidence.


Furthermore, the changing nature of natural disasters due to climate change underscores the importance of evolving certification requirements. Rising sea levels may increase coastal flood risks, heightening the need for water damage certifications in those areas. More frequent wildfires necessitate enhanced fire and smoke damage restoration expertise. By anticipating these evolving threats, restoration companies can improve their resilience and ability to protect properties and communities from nature’s impacts.

Certifications Overview

Two certifications stand out as industry standards for commercial property restoration: The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and the Restoration Industry Association (RIA).


The globally recognized IICRC, founded in 1972, offers comprehensive training in cleaning, inspection, and restoration. With over 60,000 members and 6,000 certified businesses, it sets the gold standard. Similarly, the RIA, the oldest and largest trade association, provides leadership and qualifications like the Certified Restorer (CR) and Fire Loss Specialist (FLS) credentials. Both require rigorous training and adherence to ethical standards.


The significance of certifications in establishing trust with clients and insurance companies cannot be overstated. In an industry where reliability and expertise are highly important, certifications showcase a company’s commitment to excellence and professionalism. Furthermore, commercial properties are more likely to choose certified professionals who possess the knowledge and skills to complete the job correctly the first time. Insurance companies also prefer to work or are required to work with certified restoration companies. These certifications provide an extra level of assurance that the work will be conducted to industry standards and will minimize the risk of further claims; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

IICRC Certification

The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is renowned for setting rigorous standards in the restoration industry. IICRC certification demonstrates credibility, proficiency, and ethical conduct for professionals and businesses. Attaining IICRC certification involves rigorous training in cleaning, inspection, and restoration best practices. The comprehensive curriculum covers water damage, mold remediation, fire damage cleanup, and more – equipping professionals with the necessary knowledge and skills.


Beyond technical expertise, IICRC upholds core values like respect, integrity, and excellence. Certified professionals must adhere to high ethical standards, enhancing the industry’s reputation. For businesses, IICRC certification builds client trust and provides a competitive edge, positioning certified companies as industry leaders.

RIA Certification

Pursuing RIA certification grants professionals access to a range of benefits and resources that augment their expertise and credibility. A key advantage is the specialized courses offered, allowing professionals to deepen their knowledge in specific restoration areas: 

Certified Restorer

The Certified Restorer (CR) designation signifies mastery in comprehensive restoration management, covering structural drying, mold remediation, and contents restoration. 

Fire Loss Specialist

The Fire Loss Specialist (FLS) certification equips professionals with specialized skills for mitigating and restoring fire and smoke damage.


Beyond certifications, RIA provides a wealth of educational resources for professional development. Through conferences, workshops, and online training, professionals can learn the latest industry trends, best practices, and technological advancements. Ultimately, RIA certification empowers restoration professionals to excel in their careers, expand their knowledge base, and contribute to the ongoing advancement of the industry as a whole.

Other Relevant Certifications

In addition to industry-standard certifications like those offered by the IICRC and RIA, several other relevant certifications allow restoration companies to specialize in certain areas. One such certification is the Certified Microbial Investigator (CMI) and the Council-Certified Microbial Remediator (CMR), which focus on the identification, assessment, and remediation of microbial contaminants in indoor environments. These certifications are particularly valuable in the restoration industry, where issues such as mold infestations can pose health risks.


Safety training and safety certifications also play a large role in restoration excellence. Certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), such as the 10-hour and 30-hour OSHA courses, equip professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to identify, assess, and mitigate workplace hazards. The 10-hour course provides foundational awareness training on workplace safety, while the 30-hour course offers more in-depth instruction for supervisors and workers with safety responsibilities. OSHA Trainer certifications also help individuals to educate others on OSHA standards and best practices, further promoting a culture of safety within restoration companies. 

Insurance Considerations

Insurance is crucial for restoration companies, safeguarding against potential liabilities and risks inherent in the work. Two essential policies are general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance provides coverage for property damage, bodily injury, or third-party claims arising from restoration activities. This protects both the company and clients, ensuring any accidents or damages are addressed without undue financial burden for anyone involved.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ compensation insurance offers vital protection for employees injured or ill on the job. In the hazardous restoration environment with exposure risks, it provides medical assistance and wage replacement. This promotes employee well-being and mitigates the financial impact of workplace injuries.


Navigating insurance requirements can be complex in the multifaceted restoration industry. Companies must carefully assess their needs and work with reputable providers to tailor coverage for specific risks and exposures. Additional coverage may be necessary for specialized services like mold remediation or structural drying.

Final Thoughts

Acquiring the right certifications as a restoration company demonstrates a company’s commitment to proper execution during the entirety of a project. For companies with aspirations to work with commercial properties, these certifications are regarded as “permission to play” rather than “nice to have.” When considering the overall experience of a customer and other ways to stand out from the competition, Restoration ERP can help provide a seamless customer experience with our custom ERP (Emergency Response Plan) platform. Our technology acts as a sales tool to help outstanding restoration companies with a proactive emergency response plan. This works by adding value before the company ever needs restoration services so that your restoration company is the first call made whenever disaster strikes. It also ensures you can earn repeat business for when disaster strikes again, rather than relying on search or your customers having your contact info at the ready. For more information on how Resotraion ERP can help your business grow, schedule a free demo today or get in touch with us to learn more. Our customer success team is standing by, ready to answer any questions you may have about our software.