September 11, 2012
CNLA updates retail certification exam
The Landscape Industry Certified Retail Horticulturist (formerly Certified Horticultural Technician) exam has been updated to reflect the changing nature of retail garden centres. CNLA is rolling out the new exam across Canada and this fall. The updated exam is still a combination written and practical evaluation.

Like all of the Landscape Industry Certified designations, this exam is based on the principles of validity (how close to it relates to the job), reliability (how objective the test is) and defensibility (how well it holds up to scrutiny). The exam was developed from an occupational standard created by a panel of subject matter experts, from as wide a cross-section of industry as possible. This time around, a greater emphasis was put on customer service and merchandising skills as well as integrated pest management techniques and products.

Significant changes made to exam
The occupational standard was used to create a new set of written exam questions and new practical exam stations. Most notably, the forklift station has been removed from the evaluation, given the need for separate certification for operation in most provinces. A new station called Plant Health will now test much of what was covered once by the Pesticide & Fertilizer station and Pest Identification. The new focus is on technique and comprehension of control methods rather than any specific product.

The other significant change for the new exam is a vastly improved scoring system for the practical testing. Like the Landscape Industry Certified Technician exam, the retail exam is now based on a 100-point maximum deduction scale. This helps candidates better evaluate their performance, and turn the exam into a learning experience. Scoring is weighted by section to correspond to the values (importance/frequency/safety) assigned during the occupational analysis process. This ensures more reliable and valid scoring for all candidates.

The written exam has also been given an overhaul with a new bank of questions. As part of ongoing quality control, these exam questions will be continually monitored for problem areas and updated to ensure the best test for industry. We now have a large bank of questions, which allows for more unique exam options, ensuring a reliable test.

Exam dates are currently being set across Canada. Please visit for details on the program and for locations near you.