Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FIRST Operator Certification (FAQs)

Q: What is self-paced instruction?

Q: How many classifications are there for certification?

Q: How many levels do I need to complete to be fully certified?

Q: Do the certifications ever expire?

Q: What is the duration of each level?

Q: What is the cost for the certification?

Q: Is there an additional cost for the exams?

Q: What happens if I miss the date I'm scheduled to take an exam?

Q: Are the tests written exams?

Q: Are the exams true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank or essay?

Q: Do the exams have a time limit?

Q: Are the courses and exams available in languages other than English?

Q: What if I fail an exam?

Q: Once I successfully pass the Level III examination, when will I receive my official certification?

Q: What is the extension policy?

Q: What are the benefits of a FIRST Operator Certification?

Q: How do I promote my FIRST Operator Certification?

 

FIRST Company Certification (FAQs)

Q: What’s the difference between the FIRST Operator Certification program and the FIRST Company Certification program?

Q: What are the general requirements for certification?

Q: How much does it cost?

Q: How many years is the certification good for?

Q: What does the on-site audit entail?

Q: How long will the audit take?

Q: Are the auditors trained?

Q: Is there a discount to get certifications for multiple locations of the same company?

Q: Can you recommend a consultant to help us prepare for the certification?

Q: How will the company’s certification be promoted to my customers?

Q: Our press operators and production managers are now taking Operator Certification training through Level III. Does this mean we will now be eligible to become FIRST Company Certified when they have completed the training?

Q: What if our company doesn't have in house graphic artists (prepress)? Can we still apply for FCC even if we don't have anyone that qualifies to take the PPC classes in our company? (We use outside vendors for this).

Q: Do you have a brochure I can send to my CPC customers explaining what FIRST Company Certification is and why it's important for them to use a certified company for their printing needs?

Q: We consider our platemakers and proofing staff to be prepress. Would they take the FIRST Prepress Operator classes as part of the process to become FIRST Company Certified?

Q: Will we be able to access a FIRST logo once we are certified?

Q: How do I promote my FIRST Company Certification?

 


Q: What is self-paced instruction?

A: The term self-paced applies to e-learning courses that can be taken whenever time allows, provided the course is completed within the specified 6-week or 12-week time period. This type of online learning offers students the ability to quickly and easily pick up where they left off, and go directly to specific sections for review. The self-paced course is not instructor driven, but instead requires students to move through the course independently. We recommend spending about 60 minutes per week on each training module.

 

Q: How many classifications are there for certification?

A: There are three types of FIRST Operator Certifications. They are: Press Operator, Prepress Operator, and Implementation Specialist.

 

Q: How many levels do I need to complete to be fully certified?

A: There are three levels a student must successfully pass, regardless of which certification is chosen.

 

Q: Do the certifications ever expire?

A: Yes. A certification is good for three years. You will be contacted when your certification is due to expire. A re-certification class and renewal exam will be available for a minimal fee.

 

Q: What is the duration of each level?

A: Level I – 6 weeks, self-paced
Level II – 12 weeks, self-paced
Level III – 12 weeks, self-paced

 

Q: What is the cost for the certification?

A: Each level and each category of certification are different. For complete pricing details visit: www.FTAstore.com

 

Q: Is there an additional cost for the exams?

A: The exams are included with your registration fee.

 

Q: What happens if I miss the date I'm scheduled to take an exam?

A: Since this is self-paced training, you decide when you take the certification exam. However, you are required to complete and pass the exam (80% minimum) before your enrollment expires. If it has expired, you must contact FTA's Customer Service Dept. for an extension. (See extension policy FAQ)

 

Q: Are the tests written exams?

A: No, all exams are administered online via the TEST Virtual Campus.

 

Q: Are the exams true/false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank or essay?

A: Exams contain a variety of true/false, multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions. Note: The Implementation Specialist Certification - Level III has a single, short-essay question.

 

Q: Do the exams have a time limit?

A: Exams are timed at 90 minutes.

 

Q: Are the courses and exams available in languages other than English?

A: Currently the exams are only available in English.

 

Q: What if I fail an exam?

A: A minimum score of 80% is required to pass each test. If you do not pass the first time, you can take it again as long as your class enrollment has not expired, at no additional charge.

 

Q: Once I successfully pass the Level III examination, when will I receive my official certification?

A: Once your exam is scored and you have successfully passed, you will receive a Congratulations Package containing your official Certificate of Excellence, a nameplate for inclusion in your company’s FIRST Operator Certification plaque, a personalized certification cap, and other pertinent information.

 

Q: What is the extension policy?

A: If your class enrollment has expired before you have completed your training and passed your certification exam, you may request to have your enrollment extended for an additional 21 days. An extension fee of $100 is required. Extension requests are the responsibility of the user and may be made through FTA's Customer Service Dept.

 

Q: What are the benefits of a FIRST Operator Certification?

A: Earning a FIRST Operator Certification is the surest, fastest way to gain professional expertise and valuable skills that you can use right away. You will prove your proficiency at measuring and controlling your process, every time. You’ll be able to communicate effectively with the entire supply chain. You’ll quickly assess and troubleshoot any problems as they arise. It’s also a great way to increase your earning potential, ensure career mobility, and become a leader within your organization. Best of all, no classroom attendance is required! That means you can complete your coursework at work, at home or on the road– and still reap the many rewards you want and deserve.

Additionally, when you promote the fact that your staff are FIRST Operator Certified, you will attract and win new business by demonstrating a proficiency in the flexographic printing process. Your organization will quickly become a leader in quality, consistency and color accuracy. You’ll observe an increase in customer satisfaction and as a result, will see repeat orders. You’re plant will enjoy enthusiasm, initiative & innovation among its employees. The end result? A decided advantage over the competition.

 

Q: What’s the difference between the FIRST Operator Certification program and the FIRST Company Certification program?

A: The FIRST Operator Certification program is designed for individuals who want to hone their expertise and give their plant a decided advantage over the competition. There are three levels to choose from: Press Operator Certified; Prepress Operator Certified; and Implementation Specialist.

The purpose of the FIRST Company Certification Program is to recognize flexographic printing companies that are applying FIRST methodology and have attained compliance with the specifications and tolerances related to Communication and Implementation, Design, Prepress and Press as detailed in the most current Flexographic Image Reproduction Specifications & Tolerances (FIRST) document.

 
Q: What are the general requirements for certification?

A: In order for a company to be eligible for FIRST Company Certification, the following criteria must be met:

  • 40% of Pressroom Staff must be FIRST Press Operator Certified.
  • 40% of Prepress Staff must be FIRST Prepress Operator Certified. (Note: If the company does not have in-house prepress staff, the company can apply for FCC certification, however, the company will be required to provide a Certificate of Analysis displaying tonal value aimpoints and workflow calibration parameters for all prepress related items.)
  • 40% of Management/Production Staff must be FIRST Implementation Specialist Certified.

Additional criteria can be found in full in the FIRST Company Certification Policies document.

 

Q: How much does it cost?

A: FTA Member Pricing:

  1. FIRST Certification Application Processing: $595.00 (non-refundable)
  2. Initial FTA FIRST On-site Audit and Review: $2,995.00 (Plus Travel and Expenses)
  3. Preparation of Corrective Action Report $150.00 per hour
  4. Subsequent FTA FIRST On-site Audits and Reviews: $2,995.00 (Plus Travel and Expenses) – per Audit
  5. FTA FIRST Company Certification Renewal Fee (every three years): $595.00

Non-Member Pricing:

  1. FIRST Certification Application Processing: $1,190.00 (non-refundable)
  2. Initial FTA FIRST On-site Audit and Review: $5,990.00 (Plus Travel and Expenses)
  3. Preparation of Corrective Action Report $300.00 per hour
  4. Subsequent FTA FIRST On-site Audits and Reviews: $5,990.00 (Plus Travel and Expenses) – per Audit
  5. FTA FIRST Company Certification Renewal Fee (every three years): $1,190.00

 

Q: How many years is the certification good for?

A: FIRST Company Certification is valid for a three-year period provided the company: maintains the required number of certified staff; complies with the FIRST workflow methodology; and adheres to the ongoing data submission requirements.

 

Q: What does the on-site audit entail?

A: Once the company has completed the self-audit, the FTA will arrange for a representative to visit the facility to verify that the Workflow Mapping, Device/Equipment Calibration Schedule/Manufacturer’s Recommended Operating Parameters (MROP) Documentation, Workflow Tagging, Tonal Value Aimpoints Documentation and Ongoing Workflow Compliance Data Collection are being applied. The FTA representative will use the same criteria for the on-site audit as the company used for its self-audit.

 

Q: How long will the audit take?

A: A representative from the FTA TEST Team will perform an on-site audit within a four to eight hour window on the designated on-site audit date. Verbal results of the audit will be conveyed to the company on the same day. Documentation of the company’s FIRST Certification status, ongoing compliance database and certification materials will be provided within 30 business days of the on-site audit.

 

Q: Are the auditors trained?

A: Yes, the FTA representatives are either FTA employees or industry professionals who have been selected by the FTA. Each representative has a working knowledge of FIRST practices and has been specifically trained by the FTA to perform the on-site audit. FTA sanctioned representatives are the only individuals qualified to perform the on-site audit.

 

Q: Is there a discount to get certifications for multiple locations of the same company?

A: No. Each company certification is location-specific. Therefore each company location must complete its own self-audit, on-site audit and ongoing data submission processes. Due to the associated costs for each company location self-audit review and on-site audit, the FTA does not offer a multiple location discount.

 

Q: Can you recommend a consultant to help us prepare for the certification?

The FIRST Implementation Specialist (ISC) program has been designed to provide individuals within the company the specific training needed to assist the company in securing the certification through performing the self-audit and participating in the on-site audit. Any individual who has earned the FIRST ISC certification is qualified to serve in this capacity.

 

Q: How will the company’s certification be promoted to my customers?

A: Your company certification will be listed on the official “See Who’s Certified” webpage of FTA’s website. The company will also receive a FIRST Company Certification plaque displaying the company’s certification status and certification dates. Additionally, there may be added visibility in FLEXO Magazine and in FTA’s eNewsletters, press releases, etc. It is also highly recommended that the company promotes its achievements internally and externally, through press releases and promotional materials, etc.

 

Q: Our press operators and production managers are now taking Operator Certification training through Level III. Does this mean we will now be eligible to become FIRST Company Certified when they have completed the training?

A: Applications can be downloaded and the self-audit can be performed at any time. However, because the application fee is non-refundable, the company should wait until it has met the 40% employee certification requirement before submitting the application. If the company has not met the 40% employee certification criteria at the time the application is received, the application fee will be charged, but the application will be rejected.

 
Q: What if our company doesn't have in house graphic artists (prepress)? Can we still apply for FCC even if we don't have anyone that qualifies to take the PPC classes in our company? (We use outside vendors for this).

A: Yes, the company can apply for FCC certification, however, the company will be required to provide a Certificate of Analysis displaying tonal value aimpoints and workflow calibration parameters for all prepress related items.

 
Q: Do you have a brochure I can send to my CPC customers explaining what FIRST Company Certification is and why it's important for them to use a certified company for their printing needs?

A: Once a company attains certification, a downloadable brochure detailing the certification criteria, requirements and benefits will be available through the FTA website.

 

Q: We consider our platemakers and proofing staff to be prepress. Would they take the FIRST Prepress Operator classes as part of the process to become FIRST Company Certified?

A: No. The FTA recommends that platemakers and proofing staff go through the FIRST Implementation Specialist program to attain the required 40% employee certification criteria required for company certification.

 
Q: Will we be able to access a FIRST logo once we are certified?

A: Yes. Certified companies will receive a copy of the FIRST Company Certification logo accompanied by a logo usage guide.