What Is A Certified Chimney Sweep? - DC Area Chimney Service
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About Chimney Sweep Certifications – The Need To Know

Chimney Sweep Certifications to Enhance Expertise

Chimney sweeps play important roles in our lives: they keep our fireplaces and chimneys happy and healthy so we can stay warm!  Kind of like a doctor for our chimneys!  These pros have to know what they’re doing when they stick their heads inside a chimney, and to do that, chimney sweeps obtain specialized training and the highest certifications in their field possible.  So what credentials do good, qualified chimney sweeps have?  There are a few necessary certifications, and we’ll look at those as well as what it takes to earn them.  Keep reading to learn more!

Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) Certified Chimney Sweep

Csia certified chimney sweepWhen you train to become a chimney sweep, you do so through courses approved by the Chimney Safety Institute of America.  Along the way, sweeps-in-training learn such concepts as guidelines and safety precautions for inspecting chimneys, how to deal with debris like creosote buildup and more.  To become a Certified Chimney Sweep (CCS), you must pass 2 exams (take on paper or online) which cover safety, policies and procedures.

  • Closed-Book: All prospective chimney sweeps who seek CSIA certification must pass a closed-book exam, which is based on 2 materials—Successful Chimney Sweeping (a 2009 course book) and the most recent National Fire Protection Agency’s (NFPA) 211 fire codes.  The true/false and multiple choice exam has a maximum of 1 hour for completion.
  • Open-Book: Lasting one and a half hours, examinees must also undergo an open-book test. This time the questions are based on a different set of information—the International Residential Code (IRC)—and test-takers must bring their own book for the exam.
  • First-Time Test Takers: As a rule for first-time candidates only, prospective sweeps must undergo a thorough review session prior to sitting for the formal exams.  Reviewers may obtain the necessary materials in in-person (and on-paper) formats or online.

The CCS certification is valid for 1 year, but is easy to renew each year for a minimal fee.  Note that every 3 years, chimney sweeps must retest for continued certification.  Exams are graded on a pass/fail basis.  All of our professionals at High’s Chimney have gained this essential credential and give every job their all, from chimney cleaning to structural repair.

Certified Chimney Professionals Certifications


An independent company called Certified Chimney Professionals (CCP) offers various certifications for qualified sweeps.  These certificates, the Certified Chimney Professional, Certified Chimney Reliner and Certified Master Chimney Technician, are often attained in addition to the credentials earned from the CSIA.

  • The Certified Chimney Professional credential is awarded upon completion of various steps.  The organization requires that candidates order and study from a designated manual which covers the ins-and-outs of chimney sweep practice.  Additionally, candidates must have an understanding of fire codes and safety, meaning that they must be well-acquainted with the most recent fire codes as detailed in the NFPA 211 standards.  Taking the exam is convenient for anyone, as it is hosted online, and contains 100 true/false and multiple choice questions.  The organization requires 70% accuracy on the exam to be awarded to Certified Chimney Professional credential.
  • The Chimney Reliner Certification is comparable (in requirements) to the Certified Chimney Professional credential.  Just like the Professional certificate, Reliner candidates must sit an online exam complete with 100 true/false and multiple choice questions.  Again, a passing grade is 70%, and the only difference in preparing for the exam is the study material.  For this exam, candidates must study from the CCP Reliner Manual only. 
  • The Certified Master Chimney Technician title is awarded only to experienced chimney sweeps.  In fact, certification requires 8 years of sweep experience and 6 years of active certification (no matter the source of the certificate) in the profession.  The “Master” title, unlike other certifications, does not require any exams.  The primary purpose of this title is to acknowledge experience and expertise, so applying for certification mostly just requires information.  If a sweep is able to prove their experience level—either through test scores or certification badges, they’re off to a good start—whether they have 2 years from CSIA and 4 years from CCP in standard professional certifications or some other combination of experience.  Additionally, applicants should have proof of business liability insurance to prove business responsibility.  Other than that, a yearly fee of $99 keeps a Master Sweep certified.

There is a whole host of credentials that make a chimney sweep more qualified and enhances his/her credibility as a true professional.  From the top dog certification from CSIA to the supplemental credentials from CCP, sweeps themselves can have the confidence necessary to do their jobs and clients may be assured of quality service!  If you’re looking to become a sweep, what are you waiting for?  Or if you’re just looking for top-notch chimney pros to meet your repair and installation needs, look no further than High’s Chimney!