I had a dream—a dream to become a master. It all started in 2013 during a meeting of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). I heard AAMA staff talk about its Fenestration Masters program, in which an individual with at least six years of experience in the industry could go through the extensive coursework. Participants have one year to complete the online modules, and at the end, they take a test (three hours, 150 questions) to become a FenestrationMaster. The individual could then proudly display this designation to the world. The coursework covers the residential and commercial market, so read on, USGNN.com™ readers, to find out how you can become a master.

First, the program is not just for those with years of experience. AAMA also offers the FenestrationAssociate program. This is great for anyone already in the industry, but in my opinion, it’s really ideal for those just getting started. Let’s face it—you have a new employee and you want to give them a crash course on daylighting, building codes, test methods and the like. What better way than to immerse them in FenestrationAssociate?

I am doing exactly this with Door and Window Market (DWM) editor Trey Barrineau, who also serves as a contributing writer for USGlass and USGNN.com™. Trey joined us in December 2014 and is currently going through the program. He’s still in the first set of modules but can explain casements, jalousies and other window types like a champ. Stay tuned for more information from Trey, as he will be blogging here all about his experience.

Now, I’m not going to lie—the Masters program is much more intense—but just as valuable. If you want to take an employee to that next level, you may want to look into the program. (AAMA also offers discounts for multiple employees.)

Currently, 24 industry professionals have received the FenestrationMasters designation and 37 have passed the FenestrationAssociate exam.

If you make it through the Masters, you are in good company. If you go through the coursework and don’t pass, you are still in good company (because I’m part of that latter group.)

To be blunt, the FenestrationMasters program is hard—it’s supposed to be. There are some parts where you will feel super-smart, and that depends on where your expertise lies. For me it’s residential, so I definitely had lower scores in the commercial parts, particularly that darn module on anchorage. So my advice: If your expertise is residential, pay closer attention to the portions on curtainwall, storefronts and all the commercial sections in general. If your expertise is commercial, put this in reverse order.

You have one year to go through the program and take the test. Do not do what I did: Take some of the modules for FenestrationMasters, wait eight months, cram in the last two and then take the test with minimal studying.

If you do, you will fail. That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago. I now must wait 30 days before I retest. My plan in a week or two is to focus, listen to all the coursework again, study, and then take the test again. If I pass, you can bet you will see another blog from me boasting about my successful Masterful quest.

If you have gone through, or even considered, the program, I would love to hear from you. Post a comment here.