One of the best things about the down economy is that it inspires people in all fields to go back to school and attain higher degrees. While jobs are scarce, receiving more education to increase opportunities is always a good use of time and effort. Although the construction industry has not missed a beat in spite of the economic challenges, industry professionals should also follow this trend and take advantage of opportunities to add additional credentials to their resume. The one must-have credential that all modern builders need is the LEED certification, an official recognition of their commitment to green building practices.

The construction industry is going green, and all professionals who really want a flourishing career in this field in the future need to get on the green train. The LEED certification, which stands for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was established by the US Green Building Council in 1994 as a way to continue to educate construction professionals on the latest advances in eco-friendly building. Today, as political, popular, and cultural focus is all on improving the “greenness” of the American way of life, this certification can make the difference between just working and being successful.

Professionals who hold the certification not only appeal to those who want to decrease their environmental footprint but also those who want to lower their costs by becoming more energy efficient. LEED certification indicating a building and design professional who is well versed in decreasing heat leaks, reducing electrical usage, and improving overall resource insulation.

The first level of LEED certification is referred to as the LEED Green Associate, however there are additional levels of certification that can be pursued for more substantial and impressive credentials, such as specialties in home design, interior design, operations and maintenance, and neighborhood planning . The certification exam is given online, and participants must answer a hundred multiple questions over the course of two hours. To be certified you are only required to receive a score of forty, however scores above forty can earn you a more impressive certification. For example, approaching a score of fifty and above translates to a silver certification, a score of sixty and above equals a gold certification, and a score of eighty or above earns you a platinum certification.

To ensure you pass your certification on the first attempt, it is recommended that you participate in a LEED certification preparation program. Typically administrated over only a few days, these preparation classes allow you to study exactly the type of information that will be on the exam, become familiar with the exam style, and learn from the experience of the preparation program leader who has already been certified. It is estimated that individuals who participate in the preparation program have an over 90% success rate for their first try of the exam, while people who choose to study on their own have a typical success rate of around only 40% for their first attempt. Better to take a stitch of time to participate in a class rather than waste your effort taking the exam over multiple times.

We are now living in a green world where professions and specialties that focus on enhancing environmental responsibility will carry clout not only on the job market but also on the bottom-line. It is hard to maximize the value you can gain from adding the LEED certification to your resume, and in an economic time in which everyone else is struggling just to get ahead, it can provide the leverage you need to soar above the rest.