Certification FAQs

1. What is NGWA certification?

Since its inception in 1970, the National Ground Water Association Voluntary Certification Program has been a vital link between the groundwater industry and the general public, ensuring quality and professionalism. Developed by groundwater professionals for groundwater professionals, the program continues to expand and build equity. The ultimate goals are to protect public health and to elevate industry professionalism.

2. I would like to have my company certified to do well drilling. How can this be done?

NGWA’s Voluntary Certification Program is for individuals only. There is currently no provision for the certification of companies.

3. How many exams do I need to take to be certified?

The number of exams required varies with each designation; the CWD and CPI designations require two exams each, while the CVCLD designation requires only one exam.

4. Is NGWA membership required to become certified?

No. However, members pay discounted fees for exams, study materials, and annual recertification fees.

5. Will I have to pay a certification fee every year?

Yes. There is an annual renewal fee due December 31 each year. The fee differs, depending on your designation and NGWA member status. There is also an annual continuing education requirement to maintain certification.

6. Do I have to attend trade shows to earn continuing education?

No. Continuing education can be earned a variety of ways. Attendance at a trade show may be helpful in earning continuing education, but there are several alternatives. Contact NGWA or click here for more information about maintaining certification.

7. Can I become certified in more than one category?

Yes. If you meet the qualifications of any particular designation, it can be obtained regardless of any other designations you may already have. For example, if you meet the requirements for the CVCLD designation after already having earned the CWD designation, your new designation would read CWD/CVCLD.

8. I own a well drilling company and employ several drillers. Am I expected to pay renewal fees for all of them?

NGWA certification is maintained at the individual level, regardless of employer or employment status. It is the individual’s responsibility to maintain his/her certification.

9. Where and when can I take NGWA’s exams?

You can take exams at computer testing centers across the nation by contacting PSI. You may schedule online at https://test-takers.psiexams.com/ngwa or by calling (855) 579-4642. 

10. If I fail the certification exam, how long do I have to wait to retake the exam?

There is no longer a waiting period to retake a failed exam. You have one year from the time you pass your first exam to pass all of the required exams for certification.

11. What do I need to know to take the exams?

Certification exams are tailored to the topics that they cover. Topics covered generally apply to site-related mobilization, well construction, well components, well development, rehabilitating wells, decommissioning wells, pumping systems, and job-site safety practices.

12. Do you offer any training to help pass the exams?

NGWA-approved subject matter experts and Oklahoma State University education specialists created NGWA University Online Training. The interactive courses were designed to make exam prep easier than ever. Courses are self-paced and include 3D models, knowledge checks, study guides, and video lectures to prepare or upskill the groundwater workforce. Develop your skills anywhere, anytime with NGWA University online training.

13. I used to be certified and let it lapse two or more years ago. What do I need to do?

You must retake the exams and follow the same procedures as anyone initially entering the program. Any previously earned category exams will no longer apply until the exams are passed again.

14. I passed the two required exams with a 70 percent or better score. How do I become certified?

You must submit written references from two professionals in the groundwater industry who are not affiliated with your current company to verify your experience, and you must sign an affidavit stating there is no legal action pending against you within 12 months of the qualifying exam session.

15. I have passed the exams for licensing in my state. I would like to become NGWA certified. What do I do?

Contact NGWA within 12 months of the qualifying exam session. You must submit the required certification application within 12 months of the most recently passed exam. Depending on your membership status, there may be additional exam fees due. These can be found at NGWA.org/Certifcation.

16. What’s the difference between NGWA certification and state licensing?

They are two separate operations with different requirements. NGWA’s Voluntary Certification Program is administered and governed by NGWA. The states using NGWA’s certification exams for licensing must adhere to the rules and regulations approved by their respective state legislatures. In most states, licensure is a legal requirement to be able to drill wells or install pumps, and is separate from NGWA certification. For information on NGWA’s Voluntary Certification Program, contact NGWA. For information on state licensing requirements, contact the state you are interested in.

17. Do I have to be a member of NGWA to take exams for state licensing?

No. You will be charged $75 per exam to take exams for state licensing. If you wish to use the exams for certification as a nonmember, you may then pay the outstanding difference.

18. How do I receive my scores?

If you take exams through PSI, the computer testing center, you will receive your scores immediately.

19. I have questions about my certified status. Whom should I contact?

Contact NGWA’s certification department. Reach us at certification@ngwa.org or by calling (800) 551-7379 or (614) 898-7791 outside the United States.