INTERVIEW: Understanding The Different QCP Licenses

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Did you know that woodworkers can apply for around 35 different QCP licenses? We talked to Greg Parham, Director of Inspections here at AWI-QCP, who explains what the licenses are and how they’re different. 

You can also listen to this blog post as a podcast hosted by QCP’s Executive Director, Randy Estabrook. Listen now.


AWI-QCP: Hi, Greg! It’s good to catch up with you. Before we get into all the QCP licenses, let’s start by talking a little about you and how you got into woodworking, and how you came to be the architectural woodworking expert you are now.

Greg Parham: Hi! Well, I started out in woodworking when I was young, building houses with my uncle. When I went to college, I found out that there was a program there for furniture manufacturing and management, so I completed that, and from there went into the furniture industry, and from there into the architectural woodwork industry. And now here I am as the director of inspections at QCP!


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AWI-QCP: Well, we’re certainly glad you’re here! And you’re also on the AWI’s technical committee.

GP: Yes, I’m part of the team responsible for creating the new AWI standards. The team includes people with architectural, woodworking, and educational backgrounds, and it’s a really in-depth process which we hope will lead to a really robust set of ANSI/AWI standards. And these standards each relate to the different QCP licenses.


AWI-QCP: Exactly. Can you explain a little bit about that?

GP: Of course. It seems that when woodworking firms apply for a QCP license, they think they need all of them. Since QCP licenses cover so many aspects of woodworking, including general millwork, ornamental woodwork, finishing, stair work, wall panelling, wood casework, countertops, historic restoration, and more, it’s simply not necessary to apply for every single license, at least at first.

It’s simpler, quicker, and easier (and cheaper) just to get licenses for the areas of woodwork you’ll be covering. Typically, a woodworking firm applies for a QCP license because they’ve one a bid on a project that requires QCP certification. In this case, we advise just to get the license or licenses you need to get certified on that project. For example, if it’s a wood casework project, you may just need a wood casework and a finishing license. You probably wouldn’t need to get licensed for historic restoration at the same time!


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AWI-QCP: That makes sense. And what do you say to woodworking firms when they ask about the different woodwork grades?

GP: I explain the different grades to them. We certify projects for two different grades of work; custom and premium. The main difference between the two is that premium is of higher quality. A woodworking firm can choose to get licensed to provide either custom work, or premium work. If they get licensed to provide premium work, they can automatically provide custom-grade work too. But if they apply for custom-grade only, that’s the only grade the project can be certified in, and that means if you then get a job that requires premium-grade work, you can’t do it. 


AWI-QCP: What do you think is the key to getting a QCP license?

GP: With QCP licensing, you have to take a test, submit references and shop drawings, and also submit samples of work. I think the key to successfully getting your QCP license, whichever license it is, is to ensure that your samples are absolutely correct and conform to AWI’s standards. I tell woodworking firms that there can’t be any ifs, ands, or buts about this. The samples have to be built to the AWI standards otherwise we cannot grant a license.


Ready to apply for your QCP license? Apply here. If you have a question about QCP licensing, contact us and let’s chat.

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