NICET Level I Basics

So you’ve decided to advance your career and achieve the valuable and prestigious certification of NICET Level I in Fire Alarm Systems huh? Good for you! Here, I am going to summarize much of the information found at www.nicet.org in order to make your life easier as you attempt to figure out the process of applying for your exam, and scheduling it.

The first thing to know is, NICET requires an individual to have 3 months of technical experience in the industry. This means that you have either worked for a company whose direct market is Fire Alarm Systems, or you have done inspections, service, construction or engineering of some sort for a total of 3 months. Grey areas related to what is considered fire alarm experience will ultimately be decided by your approving manager or the one approving your experience application. But my guess is most of you have been in the industry longer than 3 months since NICET is a somewhat specialized certification to seek out and the odds are you are either being asked by your company to get certified, or you are simply hoping to progress your career by making yourself more valuable and improving your resume.

If you have heard anything about the old “work elements” system for getting certified through NICET, forget all about it because the system was changed in 2010 and no longer uses that format. There are two parts involved with receiving your actual certification card. 1) You must fill out the “Certification Application Package” and send it in and 2) You must schedule and pass your exam through www.nicet.org. Although you must complete both of these items in order to actually receive your certification card in the mail from NICET, you don’t actually have to complete the Certification Application Package (which includes the work history) in order to pass a scheduled exam and receive credit for it. However, this only applies for NICET I & NICET II. Once you are ready to take NICET III, you will be forced to complete the Application Package no matter what. The only reason I am telling you this is because when I first decided to take Level I and was trying to figure out the process, I scheduled the exam, studied hard, went and passed it. Then after 4 or 5 months, I was trying to figure out why my card hadn’t come in the mail yet and NICET informed me that they hadn’t received my Certification Application Package. They then informed me that you are allowed to take Level I and Level II without submitting the Application Package, they just won’t send you your certification card or mark the exam as complete within your account. I had a “pending” status on that exam in my NICET account until I sent them the Application Package with the appropriate signatures. So it’s up to you whether you just schedule your exam(s) and not worry about the application package until later or not, but just keep in mind that you won’t receive your certification card or have a “complete” status in your account until you submit that.

Next, I recommend setting up your NICET account here. Just put in your last name and preferred email and they will send you the setup instructions and get you your own unique ID number. This will be the number that all your certifications are tied to going forward. People can also look you up via your ID number and see the certifications you have. Once you have set up your NICET account, you will see that you have a number of options to choose from and information to look through. You can browse this information at your leisure but I will give you a brief overview of the important things you will need to find. To schedule an exam click on the link highlighted in the picture below.

NICET

Once you have clicked this, you will be given a drop-down menu to choose a category. You will select “Fire Protection Engineering Technology”. You will then be given a second drop-down menu to choose a subfield. Here you will select “Fire Alarm Systems”.

NICET

After pressing the “continue” button, you will be taken to a page that allows you to select the exam level you want to take.

NICETKeep in mind that you will not be able to take Fire Alarm Systems, Level II until you have completed Level I. Maybe an obvious point, but still deserving an honorable mention. Once you have selected the level you are hoping to take, in this case Level I, you will be given a whole bunch of 3-month test windows. Basically, just choose the best time for you to take the exam even if it is 6 months from now and make sure that your ideal time period falls within the 3-month window you select.

NICET

After pressing continue, you will be directed to a page where you will plug in all your billing and credit card information. For NICET I, it will be $210 to schedule the exam. After checkout, you will receive a confirmation email which will include instructions on who to call in order to schedule the exact day of your exam.

NICET I Exam & Content

Now that you know how to schedule your NICET exam, you probably want to know what to expect when you go take the exam! For starters, you will have 110 minutes to complete 75 questions. That’s about a minute and a half per question. The two books you are allowed to have in the exam are the NFPA 70 2011 Edition, and the NFPA 72 2013 Edition. Both of these books you can find at our resource page. NICET does allow you to bring a different edition of NFPA 70 and NFPA 72 but it is not recommended. www.nicet.org gives a list of other materials that could help you study for the exam, however you are not allowed to bring them into the exam. You can find that list here.

You can find the official content outline here. As you can see, first on the list is “Installation Tasks” which constitutes 77-82{510ff2405a031d781432bcf6326caf6a5a0b32d02291dbbd46f95f171caaa56b} of the total exam questions. So you will definitely want to spend a majority of your time studying for the knowledge and skills related to installation tasks, practicing correct wiring methods, and practicing work-site safety. You then have “Maintenance Tasks” which makes up only 18-23{510ff2405a031d781432bcf6326caf6a5a0b32d02291dbbd46f95f171caaa56b} of the exam and includes the knowledge and skills related to performing simple maintenance tasks and operating basic test equipment.

You will not find too many practice questions or study guides online since the vast majority of the questions were submitted to NICET by hundreds of different professionals in the industry. However, I had the opportunity to work with and train under a few of these professionals who have submitted questions to NICET that are actually being used on the exams today! I was able to pick their brains about the types of questions that one should expect to see on the exam and compile a large number of questions that could potentially be used on the NICET I exam. To gain access to these study guides and practice tests, simply go here and sign up! I guarantee the information provided will help you pass your exam no problem!

Certification Application Package

Finally, I feel it necessary to at least mention the Certification Application Package since it can be a little confusing to fill out at first glance. To download or view the Application Package, go here. The application has two parts, the Test Application and the Experience Application. My recommendation to you is that you decide whether or not you are going to take more than one level in the future or not. The reason is, if you decide you want to take NICET I & NICET II eventually, you will only have to fill out the experience application once for both levels. However, before you decide to go that route, make sure you have at least the minimum years of experience necessary for the highest level you hope to obtain. For instance, if I am hoping to take NICET I & II (even if I’m not sure when I will take NICET II), and I have the required 2 years of experience for NICET II, I will want to fill out the work experience portion for levels I and II. On page 2 of the Application Package, you will see an overview of the portions of the Application that need to be filled out depending on what level you are hoping to obtain.

Requirements for NICET Certification

So the picture above shows us that if I am applying for Level I & Level II exams, I will need to fill out All levels I and II Performance Measures, and have a minimum of 2 years of fire detection and signaling systems experience including related experience. Normally, the Application Package including the work history is submitted after you have passed the exam. But even if you submit it before, NICET will just hold onto it until you have passed your exam and they will then send you your certification.

The hardest part of the Application Package is the work history. You must think back and provide dates as to when you did certain job functions. You must also provide the type of work completed and the skills used. All told, the total amount of experience you put on there must total 3 months for level I and 2 years for level II.

Once you have passed your exam and sent in the completed Application Package with your verifier’s signatures and approvals, you will receive your certification from NICET in the mail. You should also receive a wallet card that will have the expiration date of your certification on it. Your certification will expire 3 years from the date you receive your first certification. Even if you go and pass Level II 6 months after you passed Level I, your certification will still expire in 2.5 years when your first certification is set to expire.

Conclusion

I think that just about wraps up the basics for NICET I. You now know how find and schedule your exam. You also know a little bit about the Application Package and what it takes to fill that out. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have other questions. You can also just leave a comment and I will respond as soon as possible!

Also, please consider our subscription membership which will allow you access to hundreds of practice questions! It also gives provides you with other study tips and guides. You will definitely pass your exams using our materials!

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