Becoming a certified flagger can be accomplished in a single day and can open up many work opportunities. Certification usually only consists of a course and a test that must be passed above a certain percentage in order to qualify as a certified flagger. There are many locations that offer courses in most U.S. states, many of which are through community colleges, but it is often possible to take the course online.
Courses typically take around six hours to complete, but in some cases may take as little as four hours for a beginning flagger. Specific requirements vary by state in the United States, and certification processes may differ throughout the world. In other regions, flaggers can be referred to as traffic guards, traffic controllers or flagmen.
The first step to becoming a certified flagger is looking up what the requirements are for the intended working location. In the United States, the American Traffic Safety Services Administration (ATSSA) offers programs that are widely accepted, but not in every state. Several states offer separate qualification programs, some accepting both ATSSA certification and the state-specific version, others accepting only the state qualification. Some states do not require certification of any kind, and in these locations having ATSSA certification might be considered an edge when seeking a job, but not a necessity.
Next, one must register for a course that delivers the appropriate certification. Sometimes companies will provide its workers with this certification, and other times one must get the certification independently. Looking online for courses or searching local community college offerings usually yields a variety of available courses. Instructors must be approved by the organization that issues certification, and this organization usually has a specific curriculum that the instructor must follow. It is very important to register with an approved instructor in order to get a flagger card, as unregistered instructors cannot issue certification.
Finally, one must complete the course and pass the flagger test. The information needed to pass the test will be covered in the course, so it is important to pay attention during class time. Usually, little outside knowledge is needed in order to complete the course. Topics covered typically include safety regulations, use of road signs and equipment, and proper flagging techniques. In addition to the written test, demonstrating the appropriate hand signals may be required.
Once the course is completed and examinations have been passed, a card will usually be issued to the flagger, who is then ready to work. This card must be carried at all times when performing flagging work in areas that require certification, and it cannot be duplicated or copied. Different organizations and areas may employ different cards or other forms of verification.
After becoming a certified flagger, it is important to remember to maintain this certification. A refresher course is usually required after several years in order to keep flaggers up to date with changes in regulations since they were certified. Sometimes one can be required to retake the entire course if a sufficient amount of time has passed since the original certification.