This week we have put together some hints and tips for people that are looking to join the SER Scheme as an Approved Certifier of Design (Building Structures). The advice will be of most use to those that have yet to begin the process, so please pass this to any colleagues that are thinking of applying. And if you are a Certification Coordinator and are intending to apply, we would recommend that you give it a read now! We will also be publishing a version of this blog on the front page of the application process so that new applicants have easy access to it.

Things to be aware of before you apply

You will need to both register on the site and be logged in before you make your application. Once you have logged in, navigate to the Joining Information for Individuals page and click the Apply Now button to proceed.

Completing the application form and paying your fee does not automatically make you an Approved Certifier. You will need to print, sign and send a hard copy of the application form to SER and once the signed form is received, SER will assign your application to two of our experienced assessors and the assessment process will begin.

How long will it take?

The assessment process usually takes in the region of 4-6 weeks, and often includes applicants being asked to provide further information and/or invited to attend an interview. Not all applications are successful, and we are not able to refund the application fees for rejected applications.

Once the assessors reach an Accept decision, this has to be ratified by both the Jersey Registration Board and then the SER Board. When final ratification is received, you will be sent your acceptance email; one week after this has been sent your account will become Active and you will be able to generate certificates.

Given the timescales involved, if you are considering applying because you have been asked to certify a single project in Jersey at short notice, we would recommend that you consider sub-contracting the certification work to an existing SER Approved Body. You are able to find a list of firms that may be able to help on our Find a Certifier page.

Approved Certifier AND Approved Body?

If you are a Sole Practitioner, you need to apply as both an Approved Certifier and an Approved Body. If you work for a firm that is not an SER Approved Body, they will need to apply in order for you to generate SER certificates on their behalf once you have been accepted as an Approved Certifier. You are able to apply as an Approved Certifier no matter what your employment status, but please bear in mind that in order to generate a certificate the firm you are generating it for needs to be an Approved Body.

If you are applying as a Sole Practitioner or if the firm you are employed by is not currently an Approved Body, it is highly recommended that you make both Body and Certifier applications at the same time. This is because it is more straightforward for the assessors to assess both applications together and will usually mean that the process can be concluded more quickly, particularly if an interview is required. You will need to ensure that you complete the Certifier form first, as you will need to enter your SER Certifier number on the Body application form, but both forms can then be sent to us together.

Right, on to the form itself!

The 5 year question

SER Approved Certifiers must be Chartered Engineers with either the Institution of Structural Engineers or the Institution of Civil Engineers. The general requirement is that Approved Certifiers have a minimum of 5 years’ post-chartered experience. It is possible to apply with fewer than 5 years’ post-chartered experience, but it makes it less likely that your application will be accepted. Applicants without 5 years’ post-chartered experience should pay particular attention to the advice below relating to CVs and CPD in order to clearly demonstrate to the assessors the industry experience you have that could compensate for the lack of post-chartered experience.

What information should I prepare before applying?

The first thing to ensure you do before hitting the Apply Now button is to familiarise yourself with the key points contained in SER’s Scheme Guide. Reading the various Guidance Notes and Tutorials contained in the Resources section of the SER website will also help you get to grips with the Scheme’s requirements.

Once you have completed your research, you will be required to upload the following documents as part of your application:

CV - this should be a CV which is catered towards the SER Scheme (hence why you should ensure you read our various documents before applying!). Strong CVs tend to include a list of projects in date order, with details of project values and your design role for each one.

CPD - regardless of how long you have been chartered and how long you have been submitting CPD returns to either ICE or IStructE, SER assessors will expect to see evidence of CPD undertaken for a minimum of the last 3 years. If you have this in ICE/IStructE format then great, but if not you will need to produce a bespoke return.

Expertise

A common misunderstanding made by applicants is declaring themselves to be an ‘Expert’ in most of the areas listed on the application form. While it is undoubtedly true that applicants would be considered experts when compared to the layperson, please bear in mind that on the SER application form’s definition of ‘Expert’ is that the applicant is an ‘acknowledged expert in the field’.

Finally...

If you have any further queries regarding the application process, please do contact us by email at admin@ser-ltd.com or by telephone on +44 (0)20 7201 9116 before making your application – it is almost always easier to sort out queries beforehand than once the application has been submitted!

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