Industrial Utility Efficiency

CAGI Personnel Certification: How to Have Your Own Personal Performance Verification Program

An effective, efficient compressed air system requires proper system design and proper selection, installation and maintenance of the equipment in the system. CAGI provides information and training to assist with all these tasks, and CAGI members provide equipment designed to meet all sorts of end user needs. Manufacturers provide performance data and other information so end users are able to evaluate equipment and make intelligent choices.

CAGI sponsors and oversees a performance verification program for some types of equipment. In this program, which is expanding to include additional types of products, a third-party verifies performance data that is stated by manufacturers. Participants in these programs are able to use a standardized CAGI datasheet to state performance. The datasheets and verification process provide customers with assurance that they are getting what they pay for in terms of performance. The program also provides credibility to participating manufacturers, who stand by their data and are willing to put their reputations on the line through third party testing and verification.

While there is still room for expansion of activity related to verification of performance of equipment, and that expansion is being explored within CAGI, the existing CAGI programs address a large part of the market. Vetting of the equipment side of the equation has been addressed. What about the people? How can end users be sure the individuals who design and audit systems, who recommend and install equipment, who provide advice on system performance and optimization, are qualified and know what they are doing?

Experience and training/education are two means of gaining the requisite knowledge and abilities. CAGI and others provide many educational and training materials, including online training programs that provide a certificate of completion. CAGI partner, the Compressed Air Challenge, also provides online and in-person training that results in a certificate of completion.

Pursuing education and training is certainly laudable, and all compressed air system professionals should continue to educate themselves about compressed air systems and equipment; however, a certificate of completion is not a certificate of understanding. Education/training and a certificate of completion are the necessary first steps in the personal performance verification program journey. Showing up for training and receiving a certificate does not mean an individual has absorbed and understands the material they need to know in order to meet the needs of their compressed air system end user customers.

Similarly, a long tenure in the industry is not a guarantee of capability and understanding. A long career as an auditor, installer, or system designer may be indicative of proficiency, but we have all known individuals, in many professions, who merely skate by, fooling customer after customer while achieving no real understanding and providing substandard performance and services. Conversely, being relatively new to the industry is not necessarily indicative of lack of proficiency.

After input from end users, utilities, energy efficiency organizations and other interested parties, recognizing this gap in the vetting chain, CAGI has developed personnel certification programs for professionals in the compressed air systems industry. These programs are based on existing resources and are designed to assess an individual’s comprehension of topics germane to proper design, equipment selection, optimization, and/or assessment of compressed air systems. The programs are not training programs. Rather, their sole purpose is to evaluate an individual’s comprehension through that individual’s performance on an exam.




The first program is the CAGI Certified Compressed Air System Specialist (CCASS) program, designed to provide a means of verifying the capabilities of professionals in the compressed air systems industry. The program will allow customers, utilities, employers and others to have confidence in the skills and abilities of the professionals in the industry who design, service, sell and install compressed air systems and compressed air systems equipment.

There are no pre-requisites to taking the CCASS exam; however, based on the material that is covered by the exam, it will be difficult for most individuals without some experience in the field to pass the exam. A full list of knowledge, skills and abilities that are covered by the exam and which successful candidates will possess can be found on the CAGI website on relevant pages accessed through the Training and Education/Personnel Certification options.

The body of knowledge, or the set of topics and resources that are covered by the exam and with which candidates should be familiar, is also available on the CAGI website on relevant pages accessed through the Training and Education/Personnel Certification options. For the CCASS program, all questions on the exam can be found in at least one of the following resources (the Body of Knowledge for the exam):

  • CAGI Compressed Air and Gas Handbook
  • DOE Compressed Air Sourcebook
  • CAGI Website
  • Compressed Air Challenge Website
  • CAC Best Practices Manual
  • CAGI Air Compressor Selection and Application 1/4 hp through 30 hp

Other good, recommended resources that will help an individual prepare for the exam include the following:

  • CAGI E-learning Program
  • CAC Level 1 Training
  • CAC Level 2 Training

To become a CAGI Certified Compressed Air System Specialist:

  • Register for the exam on the CAGI website, find a test center (located throughout the U.S.), and schedule an exam.
  • Take the exam. This is a computer-based test. There are 80 multiple choice questions and examinees have 1.5 hours to complete the exam.
  • Examinees will receive test results immediately. If you pass the exam, you will receive a certificate with a unique certification number as well as a certification seal to be used on business cards and correspondence.

The CCASS program is currently available, and CAGI is offering a discounted registration fee of $275.




The second program is the CAGI Certified Compressed Air System Assessor (CCASA) program, designed to help identify pros who really understand how compressed air systems work. It assesses an individual’s abilities and comprehension of advanced topics required for proper assessment of compressed air systems. The CCASA exam is available to any current Certified Compressed Air System Specialist. While the program is primarily aimed at system assessors, successful completion of the exam indicates mastery of advanced compressed air system topics, as well.

The Body of Knowledge for the CCASA exam includes the following, in addition to the resources for the CCASS exam:

  • ANSI/ASME EA-4, Energy Assessment for Compressed Air Systems
  • EA-4G, Guidance for ASME EA-4, Energy Assessment for Compressed Air Systems [ANSI Designation: ASME TR EA-4G]
  • CAC Level 2 Training

The CCASA program is not yet available. All questions for the exam have been developed, and the committee of experts that oversees development and administration of the program conducted a final review of all the questions in March. CAGI staff is working with the third-party testing firm to launch a beta test of the program this year, sometime this summer. The beta test is used to verify the suitability of the questions and the exam overall for its intended purpose. All current Certified Compressed Air System Specialists will be invited to participate in this beta test. Those who successfully complete the beta exam will be the first class of CCASA certificants.

Once launched, the process for becoming certified as a CCASA will mirror the CCASS process.

For both CAGI exams, ongoing continuing education is required to maintain certification:

  • Certification is active for three years. To maintain certification, certificants must obtain recertification units and apply for recertification.
  • A list of activities that result in recertification units is included on the website.

CAGI has partnered with experts in design and administration of personnel certification programs to develop and make these programs available. These experts, known as psychometricians, provide guidance on proper formulation of the questions (known as “items” in psychometrician parlance) used in the exams. They also perform statistical analysis of the questions as they are used by prospective certificants in exam sessions. All questions and exams are evaluated on a regular basis to ensure they serve their intended purpose: differentiating qualified and unqualified individuals.


The CAGI Certification Path

The CAGI exams are neutral with respect to product, process and equipment or tools. Manufacturers and assessors have preferred assessment processes and equipment or tools that they use when addressing compressed air systems. The CAGI programs are not tailored to any specific assessment methodology or equipment that might be favored by one manufacturer or assessor versus another.

Why become certified? Why has CAGI undertaken the immense task of developing and maintaining a personnel certification program? Why spend the money, time, and effort? When the CCASS program was launched, then chair of the CAGI committee that develops and oversees the program, Wayne Perry, said, “CAGI believes the certification program will raise the credibility and confidence in the industry and help qualified individuals differentiate themselves as certified compressed air system professionals.” The program is intended to help those who do possess the required knowledge, skills and abilities demonstrate their competence to end users, organizations that may be offering incentives, their peets and their current and future employers. The program is also intended to help end users identify and select qualified individuals. CAGI is helping the wheat separate itself from the chaff.

It is CAGI’s intention that over time, certification will become a prerequisite to succeed in the compressed air systems industry. CAGI is actively working to make this happen. Selection and installation of equipment with verified performance in a system designed, assessed, and optimized by certified individuals who have been verified to possess the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities is the end goal. Achieving this goal will ensure effective, efficient compressed air systems. Effective, efficient compressed air systems will lead to satisfied end users. Satisfied end users will ensure the long run viability of compressed air systems as a source of power and means of production.


About the author

The CAGI System Assessment Section oversees the CAGI Personnel Certification Program and addresses topics related to performance and assessment of compressed air systems. The section comprises experienced individuals who represent CAGI members engaged in assessment activity.

About CAGI

CAGI is a non-profit trade association of manufacturers of compressed air system equipment. For more than 100 years, the institute has been the leading source on all matters related to compressed air. As the united voice of the industry, CAGI’s activities include the development and organization of educational material about compressed air systems and equipment as well as training programs to benefit users of compressed air systems. In addition to information on data sheets, performance verification, and training, the CAGI website offers many resource materials such as selection guides, videos, and standards. For more information, visit


The Best Practices 2024 EXPO & Conference taking place October 29-31 in Atlanta GA, offers the Certified Compressed Air System Specialist Exam. Learn more.

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