Expert Certification - Overview
Expert Level Soapmaker Certification is the third level of certification for all HSCG certified soapmakers. To become an HSCG Expert Soapmaker, member candidates must pass a rigorous three-part exam. This exam evaluates the knowledge and experience of the soapmaker, along with their ability to research and investigate new areas. Expert certification is offered separately for CP/HP and MP handcrafted soapmaking processes.
To be admitted to the Expert Certification program, a soapmaker must first have achieved the level of Advanced Soapmaker in that same soapmaking process by successfully completing all requirements with a score of 85% or higher and must be a current member of the HSCG.
The three Parts of the exam are:
To assess the soapmaker's skill in handcrafted soapmaking processes by submitting soap samples and documents in accordance with exam criteria. Appropriate samples will be required to demonstrate proficiency at an expert level.
To assess the soapmaker's knowledge of soapmaking raw materials, chemistry, formulation, and creative techniques by completing short essays on a selected group of topics appropriate for each process.
To assess the soapmaker's awareness of the larger picture of soap and soapmaking beyond handcrafted soap by writing a report on a topic related to commercial soapmaking/soapmakers, markets, regulations, etc.
Each Part is scored according to an appropriate point system with a score of 85% or higher required to pass that Part. Each Part must be passed in order to become certified as an Expert Soapmaker.
This HSCG staff member appointed as the Certification Program Director will oversee the administration of the Expert Soapmaker Certification Program. She will accept and approve registrations for the Expert program, track progress, and issue certificates. Any questions about the program should be addressed to the Certification Program Director.
A Judges Panel will be assembled as needed, made up of qualified soapmakers in the field to be judged. The Panel will function for the purpose of evaluating exams, papers, and/or samples submitted for the Expert Certification program. They will assess and assign points to written exams and papers and evaluate the soap samples per the requirements set by the program. They will also be involved in approving topics for the research and the topical report before the candidate proceeds with their work.
Program Time Limits
The certification requirements must be met within one year after the date the candidate registers in the Expert Certification program. A written request for an extension along with a schedule for completion may be submitted to the Program Manager. She, in coordination with the appointed Judges Panel, will accept or deny the request.
Order of Implementation
The order of start or completion of these Parts is at the will of the candidate. The Parts can be completed one at a time, or two or more can be in progress at the same time. The candidate needs to inform the Certification Program Director of their exam plan when registering, to allow planning for Judges Panels. The candidate must inform the Certification Program Manager of changes to this exam plan if they occur.
As currently structured, this is a self-taught course of study. The candidate is expected to review the requirements for each Part and determine what areas are needed for study. Lists of suggested Reference materials have been compiled and are available in the Certification Section of the HSCG Website (Member Area). Additional material may be found by conducting online searches, attending HSCG Conferences, online forums, and asking knowledgeable soapmakers. The candidate may also conduct their own research to develop their expertise. It is the candidate's responsibility to assess the quality and correctness of information they receive through these routes.
Following is a brief overview summary of the program requirements. Additional details may be found is the Certification Section of the HSCG website (Member Area).
Part 1 - Soap Evaluation
Purpose: To assess the soapmaker's skill in handcrafted soapmaking processes by submitting artisan, milk and liquid soap samples and documents in accordance with exam criteria. Appropriate samples will be required from each process.
Requirements: Samples of soaps will be required for submittal to the Judges Panel. All samples should be submitted as a group. Each soap sample has its own criteria to be met, and will be judged for its superior quality and craftsmanship, along with record keeping, process description, and adherence to labeling requirements.
Scoring and Grading: Each sample will be evaluated by the Judges Panel according to a score sheet that assigns points to features and appearance of the soap, labeling, and documentation. Each sample can achieve a maximum score of 100 points corresponding to 100%. Each sample needs to achieve a minimum of 85 points (85%) in order to pass.
Part 1 is passed if each soap sample has a score of 85% or greater. Part 1 is failed if one or more soaps have a score less than 85%.
Part 2 - Essay Exam
Purpose: To assess the soapmaker's knowledge of soapmaking raw materials, chemistry, formulation, and creative techniques by completing short essays on a selected group of topics appropriate for each process.
Requirements: The candidate will have a set of 20 questions to answer in essay format in a three-hour timed exam. These questions will be selected from a group of questions that are available to members for their study.
The questions are on topics that are critical to soapmaking, and the answer should demonstrate that the candidate has a firm grasp of the topic. Each answer will be a brief written essay of a page long, outlining concept, thought process, and/or calculations. It is important that the candidate expresses their knowledge of the topic in a concise and orderly manner.
This exam will be available at the HSCG Annual Conference and may also be administered by a Proctor (see Proctor Exams - Overview & Rules).
Scoring and Grading: Each essay will be evaluated by the Judges Panel and points awarded for content and clarity of presentation of information. Each essay can achieve a maximum score of 100 points corresponding to 100%. Each essay needs to achieve a minimum of 85 points (85%) in order to pass.
Part 2 is passed if each essay has a score of 85% or greater. Part 2 is failed if one or more essays have a score less than 85%.
Part 3 - Topical Report
Purpose: To assess the soapmaker's awareness of the larger picture of soap and soapmaking beyond handcrafted soap by writing a report on a topic related to commercial soapmaking/soapmakers, markets, regulations, etc.
Requirements: The candidate will submit a proposal to the Judges Panel with their selection of a topic that examines the larger picture of soap and soapmaking beyond handcrafted soap. The topic should be of great interest to handcrafted soapmakers and expand awareness of the place of soap in the world. The proposal should provide a statement of the topic and its significance, along with the scope of their study. The Judges Panel will assess the proposal and either accept it, offer comments to improve it or reject it.
Once approved by the Judges Panel, the candidate can proceed with their study. Their work should be presented in a written report to the Judges Panel. The Judges Panel will not act as advisors to the candidate concerning how the work is conducted and conclusions of the study.
Scoring and Grading: The report will be evaluated by the Panel and points awarded for approach, content, discussion, and clarity of presentation.
A report can achieve a maximum score of 100 points corresponding to 100%. The report needs to achieve a minimum of 85 points (85%) to pass.
Part 3 is passed if the report has a score of 85% or greater. Part 3 is failed if the report has a score less than 85%.
For complete details see Expert Certification Topical Report.
Completion of Requirements
Upon passing all three parts of the Expert Certification, a candidate will be awarded the level of Expert Soapmaker in their particular process of CP/HP or MP. The member will receive a certificate for their use. The member also has permission to use the HSCG Certified Expert Soapmaker logo appropriate for their soapmaking process.
Reports and research projects may be published in the HSCG Journal and/or posted to the HSCG website.
This certification is valid as long as the member is in good standing with the HSCG. If the soapmaker is no longer an HSCG member, then they can no longer claim to be certified by the HSCG and should immediately stop using and displaying the certificate and logos.