09 – Fair Observation – Code of Ethics Copy

The validity of our program and its Passport and Certificates rests directly on the Evaluation team. Evaluations shall be equally and fairly given, and results accurately recorded on behalf of the Candidate, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

A high level of consistency in the interpretation, application, and adjudication of the Skill Standards is vital.

An Evaluator is obliged to observe from a position of clear sight lines without distracting the Candidate or putting oneself in danger.

As a representative of the WCA and an Accredited Skill Evaluator, when you accept the position you are personally subscribing to this Code of Ethics.

08 – Candidate Relations Copy

Evaluators are to take the role of coach rather than the position of an enforcer.

Our role should be to help our candidates succeed and achieve, not to set traps or watch them fail. (There may be instances, when evaluating advanced levels, in which a tool may be intentionally taken out of adjustment to permit the candidate to pass an adjustment-related test.)

The first contact with a Candidate will take the form of a friendly exploration of the goals of the coming assessment(s), the understanding of and comfort level with the Skill Standards to be reviewed, and the assurance that we are working together for success.

An Evaluator will prepare for a session well in advance, both in consideration of the time of the Candidate as well as to show the high level of professionalism we expect of our team. Advanced preparation results in a smoothly executed evaluation session.

As the session begins, continue to support the Candidate with the understanding that an Evaluator can not conduct training to achieve the Level, nor shall the Evaluator give direct hints to the Candidate on how to complete the operation successfully.

07 – Evaluation Demonstration

Now that you’ve read about performing an evaluation, we’re going to demonstrate one to give you a better feel for what you’ll be doing. Please watch the short video below showing an actual evaluation and discussing what to watch out for while performing one…


06 – Site Readiness Copy

The evaluation site must comply with the criteria in the Skill Standards.

If an evaluation site is being used for the first time, develop a relationship with the site supervisor. Make contact by phone and, if possible, visit the site prior to the session.

There can be no compromise with regard to safety.

Confirm that any machine used by a Candidate for evaluation is in working order and equipped with any relevant guards or safety devices, dust collection, sufficient lighting, safe footing and clear working access.

It is expected educators and supervisors in industry will be working in a site suitable for evaluation.

Safety – when to STOP an Evaluation

It goes without saying that SAFETY is always a consideration in any manufacturing process. Woodworking , by its very nature, can be hazardous to the woodworker and to others in the vicinity. So, when is an operation unsafe to the point of terminating the evaluation?

A rule of thumb that might be applied to all woodworking operations is this:

If a given operation requires PERFECT execution to avoid mishap, then it is NOT SAFE.

A safe working situation is one that allows for imperfection in execution. It provides protection and/or an escape plan.

Safety should first be addressed by the Candidate in the Pre-Op period. He/she should make sure that the appropriate guarding is in place and that any other required tools or equipment are at hand. The Accredited Skill Evaluator shall confirm the Candidate has done so and is ready to begin, without prejudice or approbation.

Personal Protective Equipment

Safety glasses must be worn at all times.

Face masks, shop aprons or other protective clothing can be used. Restrictive or loose clothing or accessories which may, in the opinion of the Accredited Skill Evaluator, pose a threat to safe execution of the operation shall be modified and/or removed prior to the evaluation.


A machine or tool may have a factory-supplied guard, which can be used.

If the standard guard cannot be used, an alternate method of guarding the process must be employed.

If an operation absolutely cannot be done with a physical guard, then the operator must utilize process procedures that “guard” the hands and body through position and technique.

Jigs and Fixtures

By holding the work piece or guiding the tool, jigs and fixtures make the process safer. Hands can be kept away from the cutting tool.

Auxiliary fences, hold-downs, stops and other devices can help control the work piece.

Push sticks and push blocks can be used to keep hands away from the cutting tool.

When to Stop

During the operation, if the Evaluator observes that the Candidate is attempting to complete the operation in a manner that could be deemed unsafe, the Evaluation should be stopped. Incorrect body position, placing the hands in imminent danger from the cutting tool, not using appropriate guarding, restrictive or loose clothing, etc. are all possible reasons. You must be the judge.

05 – Scheduling an Evaluation Copy

If a candidate contacts the WCA to request an assessment, an Evaluator close to the candidate will be identified. If that Evaluator is you, you must decide to accept or decline the invitation.

When you decline you shall notify the Candidate within 24 hours, including your Accredited Chief Evaluator so other arrangements can be made.

When you accept you must contact the Candidate and/or the supervisor of the facility used for the assessments as soon as possible to make an appointment.

Evaluators should select a time which causes minimal disruption to the ordinary routines of the shop/school. If multiple assessments are required, work with the Candidate/s and facility provider to streamline the process.

Multiple assessments (either for several Candidates on the same or similar process, or a single Candidate for several processes) increases the efficiency and benefit to the Candidate and employer and is generally desirable since it reduces the logistical preparation. For example, it takes as much preparation to test one individual as it does for 5 or more.

Educators and supervisors in industry will naturally conduct in-house assessments and scheduling according to their own needs.

06 – The Evaluation Process

Evaluations, or assessments; this is where the rubber meets the road, and is the most important responsibility of the Accredited Skill Evaluator. The integrity of the WCA credentialing program depends on the quality of the assessments that we perform. This requires a high level of consistency in the interpretation, application, and adjudication of the Skill Standards. Therefore, it is important that you have an in-depth knowledge of the content of the particular standards that you will be assessing, as well as the evaluation process itself as outlined in the following topics.

Evaluations shall be equally and fairly given, and results accurately recorded on behalf of the Candidate, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

Before You Begin

Below is a list of things to verify or consider prior to assessing a candidate:

  1. Candidate must have an active Individual Membership; no evaluations should be done until they are an active member. There is no way to enter results for a non-member.
  2. Verify that the candidate has passed the pre-requisite Layout and Measurement operations as discussed in Lesson 4.
  3. Verify, in the Registry, that the candidate has enough Assessment Credits to cover the assessments you will be performing.  Remember, each operation at level 1 consumes one credit, and if tested at level 2, one more credit is consumed for a total of two.
  4. Explain the evaluation process to the candidate prior to the assessment.
  5. Confirm the candidate has read the standard(s) on which they will be evaluated and that s/he understands the performance goals and other considerations being observed.

The following topics will walk you through evaluation process itself…

08 – Evaluation Policies and Confidentiality

Evaluation is voluntary. The Skill Standards may be selected for use without coercion, with equal treatment for all, and with the informed consent of participants in an open process.

In order to receive Skill Points, records in the Registry, and/or Certificates, a candidate must be paid up and in good standing, have purchased enough assessment credits, and must complete all criteria for the selected tool/machine and operation.

  • The Candidate shall acknowledge, by affidavit, that s/he is physically qualified to operate the tool/machine being evaluated.
  • The Candidate shall acknowledge and agree to the terms and policies of the Woodwork Career Alliance and Woodwork Credentials Board Standards and Evaluation programs.
  • The tool/machine used in the evaluation shall be accepted by the Evaluator as in good/safe working condition as a prerequisite to evaluation.
  • The Evaluator shall create and maintain a supportive environment before, during and after the evaluation, which is intended to encourage a successful performance.
  • Evaluators and Candidates shall maintain the security of the Transcript Archive and the records kept therein.

The Evaluator may deny the award of Skill Points(s) to candidates who lack understanding in any subject area in which operators of that tool/machine are expected to have competence, including the stated General Considerations and Pre-Operation criteria.

The Evaluator may, in the event a candidate engages in inappropriate conduct or behavior, reserve the right to take responsive actions, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Reject the application(s) for evaluation and stop the process.
  • Prohibit or preclude a candidate from participation in an evaluation.
  • Prevent a candidate from continuing at any time during an evaluation, including removal of that person from the evaluation site.
  • Invalidate a candidate’s results after evaluation.
  • Issue and enforce any other lesser response to action determined to be appropriate or necessary.


Records of all Evaluators and Candidates in the program shall be confidentially maintained and protected to the greatest extent possible and practical.

Information supplied by candidates is for the confidential use of the WCA and will not be disclosed to any party without the specific written permission of the individual participant.

Information supplied by schools or employers is for the confidential use of the WCA and will not be disclosed to any party without the specific written permission of the school or employer.

All participants in the WCA programs will be required to sign a WCA release form allowing the WCA to verify a candidate’s status to a Skill Evaluator or Chief Evaluator if requested.

02 – How Credentialing Works

WCA Credentials and Certificates are earned by individuals, also known as candidates, by earning skill points and accumulating experience hours in either an education or work setting. Joining the WCA as an Individual Member is a prerequisite to becoming a candidate eligible to pursue credentialing. Originally called the Passport Membership, each candidate receives an ID card as shown at right. In fact, participating in the WCA in any capacity, including working as a Skill Evaluator, requires first joining as an Individual Member. Student candidates must also attend a school that is a current EDUcation Member in order to participate. Employees at any wood manufacturing facility only need to join as an Individual Member to pursue a credential even if their employer is not a MANufacturing Member.

Candidate Records

Purchasing an Individual Membership online automatically creates a record for the candidate in the WCA national database, referred to as the Registry. The candidate is sent an email with their username, typically their email address, and a temporary password. This allows candidates to login at any time to see their own records, and allows Skill Evaluators to see the records of candidates they may be evaluating. A candidate’s record includes their total number of Skill Points, Experience Hours, Assessment Records showing the results of the Tool(s)/Operation(s) they were assessed on, and any Assessment Credits they may have, as well as additional biographical information. You will learn how to log into and use the Registry to enter and locate candidate records in a later lesson.

Candidates have the ability to email a transcript of their achievements to anyone they choose from the Registry at any time.

Skill Points

Candidates earn Skill Points (formerly known as Tool Stamps) by being assessed, or observed, by a Skill Evaluator on a Tool Operation that is contained in the WCA Skill Standards. The Skill Standards encompass well over 100 tools, each of which is broken down into multiple discrete Operations; for example, the Table Saw has 12 different operations, one of which is Tablesaw/Ripping. Each operation has two possible levels, called Level 1 (output oriented) and Level 2 (setup oriented) that a candidate may be assessed on. Being assessed at Level 1 earns one Skill Point, and being assessed at Level 2 earns an additional Skill Point, for a total of two. We will dig deeper into the Skill Standards in the next lesson.

Everyone in the program carries a Personal WCA Passport Card. Individuals earn WCA Credentials by accumulating Skill Points in the Passport and by time-on-job experience. Skill Points are earned by demonstrating competence on tool skills defined in the Woodwork Manufacturing Skill Standards, published by the Woodwork Career Alliance. The skill demonstrations are observed by a Skill Evaluator, an individual accredited by the WCA.

Skill Points are only awarded if a candidate passes the operation.

Assessment Credits

In order to be assessed, a candidate must first have Assessment Credits in their Registry account. For each Skill Point that a candidate earns, they are debited one Assessment Credit. Ten free Assessment Credits come with the purchase of each Individual Membership; additional credits may be purchased at the WCA online Marketplace at $5 each. Ten Assessment Credits allows a candidate to be assessed on five tool operations at Level 2, which earns ten Skill Points; enough for a Sawblade Certificate. Credits are automatically deposited in a candidates account when they are purchased online by the candidate. Assessment credits may also be transferred by a candidate, or evaluator, to another candidate’s account using the Registry. Evaluators are not able to enter results for a candidate in the Registry if the candidate does not have enough Assessment Credits to cover the earned Skill Points.

Any time a result is entered for a Tool Operation assessment in the Registry, Assessment Credits are debited according to the level being tested (i.e. Level 2 costs two credits), regardless of whether or not the assessment is passed or failed. If a candidate fails an assessment and the Skill Evaluator enters it in the registry, the credits will be debited, but no skill points awarded. More on this later…

Experience Hours

Candidates can accumulate experience hours two ways; by being a student in a qualified woodworking oriented training program or as an employee in the wood manufacturing industry. Up to 1600 hours of Educational experience may be applied, including woodworking instruction related classes such as math, and internships. Skill Evaluators are responsible for verifying the candidate’s hours and entering them in the Registry; do not enter them if you cannot verify them. If in doubt about whether a candidate’s hours qualify, check with the Chief Evaluator in your region. You will be required to give a detailed description of where and when the hours were earned. While experience hours can be earned anywhere, a student must be attending an EDU member school at the time the credential is awarded.

Credential and Certificate Levels

The WCA offers five credential levels, with the first Green level requiring 30 Skill Points and a minimum of 800 experience hours and no written test. The Sawblade Certificate was created to allow high school students to graduate with a certification. This is the only level that requires a written test, which students take online. Students who accumulate enough experience hours in high school, purchases additional assessment credits, and are assessed on more tools, are eligible to earn higher level credentials. Most post-secondary programs allow students to accumulate enough hours to earn a Green credential, or possibly even Blue.

Both the Skill Points and Experience Hours are cumulative; each Credential adding to the one above. The Red, Gold, and Diamond Credentials require a practical demonstration of acquired skills, which is custom tailored and related to the candidate’s real world working situation and experience.

The Green and Blue Credential can be earned by students in a qualified training program, which may include some time in a manufacturing shop or plant. By the time a candidate applies for the Red Credential s/he is assumed to be employed in the industry. In other words, both school and work hours count for the Green and Blue Credentials, but only work hours count above that.

Summary of Credential Progression:

  • Sawblade Certificate – 10 skill points, >80% on 40 question Sawblade Quiz, and enrolled at a WCA EDUcation™ school.
  • Green Credential – 30 skill points, 800 hours (education and/or work)
  • Blue Credential – 60 skill points, 1600 total hours (education and/or work)
  • Red Credential – 120 skill points, 3200 total hours employed, skill demonstration
  • Gold Credential – 180 skill points, 4800 total hours employed, skill demonstration
  • Diamond Credential – 240 skill points, 6400 total hours employed, master project


As mentioned previously, the $55 Individual Membership comes with 10 free Assessment Credits, which is enough to obtain the Sawblade Certificate. The Green level requires 20 additional Skill Points, for a total of 30, which in turn requires purchasing 20 additional Assessment Credits at $5/each. Therefore, a Green Credential costs $55 for the Individual Membership plus $100 in additional Assessment Credits, for a total of $155. A Blue Credential requires an additional 30 Assessment credits, for a total of $150, bringing the total cost for a Blue Credential to $305. Going up the ladder, the cost is determined by the number of additional assessment credits that need to be purchased.

01 – What is an Evaluator?

 Founded in 2007, with a grant from the US Forest service, the Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) is the first neutral association to award Credentials to woodworkers. Unlike other professional Credentials, it was felt that due to the serious safety issues involved in operating woodworking equipment, candidates should be required to be observed operating the tools and machinery in order to be evaluated properly. While a candidate may be familiar with the machine controls and can describe how to use a tool, it is a different matter to actually perform an operation on the tool. This is where you come in…

WCA Skill Evaluator

The heart of the WCA credentialing program is the Accredited Skill Evaluator (ASE). The ASE is responsible for performing skill evaluations on candidates. There are over 225 accredited evaluators in North America distributed throughout multiple regions in the U.S. and Canada. Each region is administered by one or more Chief Evaluators.

Accredited Skill Evaluator (ASE)

Skill Evaluators come from both industry and education and must have demonstrated expertise in the tools they wish to become qualified to evaluate. They must also be well-versed in the Skill Standards that cover those specific tools. Most WCA Skill Evaluators are either employed at a WCA MANufacturing member company, or a teacher at an WCA EDUcation member school. All EDUcation member schools must have at least one faculty member who is a Skill Evaluator.

Skill Evaluators must perform at least one operational evaluation on a minimum of four different candidates over the course of one calendar year to remain on active status.

Accredited Chief Evaluator (ACE)

Chief Evaluators have the same responsibilities as any Accredited Skill Evaluator. In addition, the Chiefs supervise the ASE’s in their region and serve as principal training officers for new ASE’s.

There is at least one Chief Evaluator in each of the nine (9) regions in North America. Some of the regions arebetter served by having more than one, either due to high enrollment in the region, and/or high industry involvement. After serving as a Skill Evaluator for a sufficient period of time, ASE’s may either apply, or be nominated, to be a Chief Evaluator for their region if one is needed.

[Add a list of regions]

WCA Evaluator Requirements

  1. Individuals may apply for or be nominated by Members of the WCA board, or associated industry partners, to be an evaluator.
  2. All evaluators will be required to agree to a professional ethics agreement.
  3. Evaluators must complete this online training course.
  4. Evaluators shall respond to regular updates to maintain active status.
  5. Evaluators may only perform skill assessments on operations where they have the appropriate experience and qualifications to make appropriate judgements on the correct use of the equipment being evaluated.
  6. Evaluators may be skilled tradespersons, machinery technicians, production supervisors, woodworking educators, or anyone possessing expertise in the skills being evaluated and meeting the WCA criteria.

Woodwork Career Alliance Offers New Training Tool Kit

Online resources can be used to help establish training programs in the classroom or on the shop floor.

Nellysford, VA – April 2, 2018 –  The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America now offers a treasure trove of tools for training students and entry-level woodworkers. Unlimited access to the online vault of training resources is a valuable new benefit that comes with the $250 annual fee for EDUcation™ and MANufacturing™ membership in the WCA.

While most of the training tools were developed to help high school woodworking instructors implement the WCA’s Sawblade credential program, woodworking businesses can readily adapt them to address their specific training needs.

“Developing a structured program for training new hires from scratch is both time consuming and costly, especially for small shops,” said Patrick Molzahn, director of the Cabinet & Millwork program at Madison College in Madison, WI. “Businesses can use the WCA’s sawblade credential program and resources to train someone who is new or has limited woodworking experience on some of the most basic, yet important fundamentals of woodworking. It’s $250 well-spent.”

Each of the training modules includes a step-by-step learning plan and corresponding learning tools. For example, the learning plan for operating a table saw covers recommended reading assignments, instructional videos, and a checklist of saw safety, key parts and functions. The learning plan also features a series of table saw operator activities such as tapering, beveling and mitering. Rounding out the table saw module are evaluation tools for assessing the quality of the cuts. (Watch sample video: Tapering on a Table Saw.)

Other training modules available to WCA members include:

  • Layout and Measurement;
  • Milling;
  • Shaping;
  • Boring; and
  • Sanding.

“We plan to add new resources as often as possible,” Molzahn said. “We welcome contributions from industry, academia and others who are willing to help us build out our library.”

The training resources were detailed in a recent webinar presented by the Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers. Molzahn and Bert Christensen, woodworking instructor at Westosha Central High School of Salem, WI, discussed how they utilize the online tools in their respective programs to credential students to WCA skill standards. Click here, to watch the webinar on demand.

To learn more about the benefits of becoming a member of the Woodwork Career Alliance, visit WooodworkCareer.org.



About the Woodwork Career Alliance
The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of Skill Standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 240 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued more than 1,600 Passports, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of achievements as a woodworking professional. More than 100 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members. To learn more about the WCA, how to get involved with its programs or to sign up to receive the quarterly WCA Pathways e-newsletter, visit WoodworkCareer.org.