I posted these remarks on the CSI-Connect Forum

“Recruiting Young Specifiers / Labor Shortage”

The term “Young Specifier” is probably not useful. The very nature of specification writing requires a solid body of industry experience gained through one or more practice channels over a period of time. A number of successful senior specifiers began their work life in architectural firms as non-professional track drafters and administrative staff. They kept growing and gaining knowledge and eventually took over the specification writing practice in their firms. Many specifiers are architects who gravitated toward specializing in this subset of architectural practice because of their abilities to focus on technical topics. In either case, the specifiers moved into this role because they saw career opportunity and enjoyed the work.

I began focusing on specifications in the first architecture firm I worked in because 1) I recognized that while appreciating quality design, I did not have any special talent or preparation for becoming a design-focused architect, 2) I had worked in construction and knew about building stuff, and 3) I saw that no one in the firm was doing specification writing well. Along the way, I discovered the nearby CSI chapter, learned about and took the CDT, then the CCS and CCA; undertook teaching these courses, and finally focused directly on specification practice. This was a 10 year process.

Others’ experience will be different. There are no fixed rules here. Some firms recognize the importance and benefit from supporting specification practice. Others only do it because they have to. Interested potential specifiers should seek out the former type of firm and let the latter type of firm devote themselves to a lesser quality practice. The supportive firms need to step forward and include in their support a path to associate and partner status for technically talented staff, with the compensation to go with it. “Show them the money,” and the opportunity, and occasionally you will find a talented emerging specifier who will help limit your construction disputes and make your practice profitable.