There is an old story about a fix-it man called in when the assembly line of an automobile factory was stopped. He was there less than half an hour, adjusted one valve to restore the assembly line to service, and left the company with a bill for $10,000. The accounting department was stunned with the fee, demanding the bill be itemized. The fix-it man returned the bill as follows:
- Adjusting the valve: $5
- Knowing which valve to adjust and how to adjust it: $9,995
The moral of the story? Expert execution doesn’t happen without knowledge and skill.
The Portable Sanitation Association International has been certifying portable sanitation professionals since the early 1990s. When our program was created, it was done on the basis of best practices, knowledge and skills needed at the time. The credential was truly cutting edge, and it is still the model for our industry.
A lot of things have changed in the generation that has passed since the program began. The PSAI has made adjustments and added new information over the years, but the underlying job of a service technician has not been analyzed in a systematic way for a very long time.
So, recently the PSAI has undertaken a thorough review of the position of service technician. We are doing this to offer training that is relevant and up to date. We also want to make sure our certification exam is testing the things that matter most for success.
To begin, we gathered job descriptions from dozens of portable sanitation companies and looked for commonalities. Then we organized what we found, and asked about a dozen subject-matter experts for input — people who have worked more than 200 years combined in the portable sanitation business. Based on these two steps, it seems the role of the portable sanitation professional who is functioning as a service technician falls into five broad categories or “knowledge domains:”
- Transportation and logistics
- Servicing portable sanitation equipment
- Safety and hazard management
- Professional demeanor and conduct
The PSAI is eager to learn how real service technicians turn this knowledge into action on the job. For starters, we developed a Job Analysis tool — a special kind of survey that will help us better understand what tasks are being done, how frequently they occur, and how important they are.
When this exercise is complete, we will make the information available to the industry in a variety of ways that will support portable sanitation operators’ business success. We’ll also use it to improve the training and credentialing services we offer.
Versions of the story about the fix-it man have been floating around for at least 100 years — probably because it resonates with people. What looks easy is really the result of a lot of knowledge and experience — both often overlooked or undervalued. The PSAI wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to service technicians.
Won’t you help us get it right? Please help us gather the data we need by having your service technicians complete the survey. It is available online or in paper form. For more information, visit the PSAI website www.psai.org or call the PSAI office at 952/854-8300.