Q.1: How has STLE certification benefitted your career?

TLT Sounding Board June 2018


© Can Stock Photo / mast3r

Technical research in the lubricants industry is peer reviewed, but how does a potential customer, vendor or employer “peer review” a person? For nearly 2,000 industry professionals, the answer is STLE certification. Whether it’s Certified Lubrication Specialist™, Oil Monitoring Analyst™ I and II or Certified Metalworking Fluids Specialist™, STLE’s certifications are the mark of credibility in the lubricants industry. Many readers say their STLE certifications resulted in an immediate salary increase, others report that it was the key differentiator when competing for a new position, and some stated that, for their jobs, STLE certification a requirement. A common theme among survey respondents is that STLE certification means more to employers than customers. However, savvy readers noted that educating customers about their STLE certification actually is an opportunity in disguise. As one noted: “People ask what all those letters after your name on the business card mean, and that opens the door for a conversation into your expertise and experience in the field.”

CLS is a required certification for my job. It gives our company creditability with our customers.

I believe my OMA I is helping move our used oil analysis from an added service to more of a value proposition.

I have used my CLS certification to propel my career into a sustainable job with a major lubricants company. Customers understand the credentials and are more motivated to conduct business with someone with CLS.

It has not advanced my career, but it has given me more credibility with customers when it is explained to them.

Being certified as a CLS has helped my career. The certification made me the go-to guy within my organization for technical guidance. Being a resource within the organization led to management opportunities. While the CLS means less to customers, having the knowledge to solve their problems has allowed me to build trust and earn business.

The benefit: having a third-party verify that I know what I’m talking about. Plus it revealed to me the need to always stay up to date on technical changes. You cannot know everything, but you can know where to go to find answers.

STLE certifications are an indication to the business world that I am a recognized expert in the area of lubrication.

Being STLE certified made me the preferred candidate for my current job.

It’s improved my self-confidence and added credibility with clients and suppliers.

I was recognized by my peers because I was a founding member of the CLS Committee.

It illustrates to customers that I have first-hand, in-plant, practical knowledge of lubricants and their applications within various plant environments.

I believe my CMFS certification helped me secure a new job. It was of significant value to my new employer, a metalworking fluid manufacturer.

Having or obtaining a CLS was a requirement for a position I held for nearly 10 years.

As a salesman, I can offer better solutions to key plant personnel to help them solve their problems.

My last employer required it.

It has done very little for my career. There are very few companies that recognize it or even know what it is. However, I am very proud of it and will always maintain it.

I have been CLS certified for more than 10 years. Initially I received a cash bonus for passing the CLS exam. Many customers are not aware of the significance of STLE certifications, but they can be educated to understand that you have been peer reviewed and your peers believe you know what you’re talking about. 

With more sophisticated customers, once they understand what the CLS designation means, it does appear to help differentiate us against price-driven sales efforts. The trick is that the majority of my client base isn’t overly aware of what it is until told.

It helped establish credibility on recommendations both from having the certification and the knowledge obtained studying for the certification.

CLS and OMA I have opened a lot of doors for me as a lubricant-distributor salesperson. People ask what all those letters after your name on the business card mean, and that opens the door for a conversation into your expertise and experience in the field. It really helps with the flow of information between myself and a potential customer.

It is one of my most cherished certifications, but as far as I know it hasn’t helped me.

CLS certification is highly respected in my industry and adds credibility to my work.

Has someone with an STLE certification ever offered you technical or career advice/help?
Yes 76%
No 24%
Based on responses sent to 15,000 TLT readers.

Q2. How did you prepare for your STLE certification exam?
Studied at least 10 hours a week for about four months. Obtaining my CLS was one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I have ever had. 

My company sponsored training for some of our employees trying to certify as OMA I. This training ended up being about 20 hours.

I basically relied on lubrication terminology and definitions to prepare. Past work experience and better understanding of terminology helped me succeed. I was elated to receive my CLS results.

I took the CLS exam in December 1996 and was notified that I passed in January 1997. It was a relief to have passed the exam. I worked for a regional chemical and lubricant distributor at the time, and I did not have a formal training program. My preparation involved reading technical articles for one to two hours, four or five nights a week for six weeks prior to the exam. Before that I had attended Citgo’s Lube School where I was first introduced to STLE and the CLS certification. I had been in the industry for 10 years at the time.

For the CLS exam, I studied various resources for about six months. The exam was difficult, and it took me the entirety of the allotted time to complete it, so it was a great relief when I learned that I had passed. After that I took the OMA I and passed without much preparation at all.

After spending decades in this field and attending many STLE education courses, there was not much more preparation needed!

Worked with a team from Chevron for about nine months and then attended a three-day intensive workshop prior to the CLS exam.

For OMA I, I read The Basic Handbook of Lubrication (Third Edition), plus ASTM D4378 and D6224.

Years of experience, asking questions from other CLS-certified individuals, industry peers and trusted sources. Looking for answers to many questions, therefore learning things I would have never thought important. 

I prepared for the exams through years of being in the field with customer interaction and problem solving. I took the CLS before it was a multiple-choice exam and passed on my first take. I was amazed by how many in my employer-sponsored prep class were there for their second and third try. By passing both the CLS and OMA I on my first try, I was very impressed with my grasp of technical expertise based on my peers.

I obtained most of the suggested reference books and used my knowledge and experience. I spent maybe two to three months covering the reference books to help improve my chances. When I received the envelope from STLE, I knew I had passed—it’s like college where the big envelope means success and the little envelop means better luck next time. I was quite happy because the time investment paid off. 

I didn’t really prepare for the CMFS exam because I assumed my years of experience, including numerous STLE courses, prepared me well. I knew the exam would be difficult, and I felt like I had failed. In fact, I passed on my first try and was completely surprised and elated!

The CLS exam was the hardest test I have ever taken. I was extremely happy when I found out I had passed.
Editor’s Note: Sounding Board is based on an informal poll of 15,000 TLT readers. Views expressed are those of the respondents and do not reflect the opinions of the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. STLE does not vouch for the technical accuracy of opinions expressed in Sounding Board, nor does inclusion of a comment represent an endorsement of the technology by STLE.