Years ago, all a driller had to do to prove his skill was drill a few wells for his neighbors, and the word would get around. They would know whether he could drill a good well, and whether he backed his work. They told their friends and neighbors at the church-house, and at the doctor's office. If he was pretty good, he made a living. If he drilled poor wells, or didn't back his work, he soon found himself in another line of

business. Times have changed a good deal now, neighbors don't meet and talk as much as they once did. It seems whenever someone needs to hire a driller, or a contractor, they just look for the biggest ad in the phone book.

They may get a good job or they may get a world-class jackleg to drill their well. The way for customers to select a driller, and for the driller to prove his worth in the modern world, is for him to prove himself to his peers. If other drillers recognize the abilities of a driller, he has proven himself to a pretty tough crowd. He might be able to fool quite a few customers, but, if he isn't a driller, he can't fool another driller for long.

This is where licensing and certification come in. Most states require anyone that puts his hands on the brake-handle, have a license, or at least have a licensed driller on location. This is common sense. It doesn't take long for an innocent mistake, caused by inexperience, to cause a disaster. Some states only require a 'contractor' license. This allows a businessman with plenty of money to hire a licensed driller and then hire as many other people as he wants to operate his rigs.

Who knows if they can drill or not? The state's answer to this is: If the driller makes a mistake, we can go after whoever has the license. By that time the damage to our resource is done, now we all have to fix it. Imagine if the airlines were allowed to operate under these standards. "Sure, we've got a licensed pilot, back in the office."

By this reasoning, the state would tell you if the plane crashed, they'd go after the guy with the license! A little late for your granny in seat 34c. I wouldn't ride a plane without a licensed pilot, and I wouldn't let a unlicensed person (I won't call him a driller) drill my well, either! We all need to realize we can go without a plane ride for a lot longer than we can go without water.

Another way to prove the skills and ability of a driller is through certification. The National Ground Water Association (NGWA), tests and certifies drillers as to their skills and abilities. The certification is internationally recognized, and is a valuable tool in judging a driller's worth. It may be the only way for a driller to prove himself in the few states that don't even require a license. NGWA certification also demonstrates more than the basic skills of a driller. It demonstrates commitment. It shows he has put his life and his 'heart' into his career.

As professionals, committed to our industry, we need to do two things: We need to hold ourselves to the highest professional standards, by getting licenses, and certifications, for our people who are qualified, and we need to educate our customers about what to look for in a good driller. If we lose a job to a good driller, down the road, oh well... But if we lose a job to an uncertified, unlicensed jack-leg, we've got only ourselves to blame. If we fail to educate our customers about checking for licenses or certifications when a driller shows up in their yard, we are not doing our job. I've never met a driller, with a license, who wasn't proud to show it to a customer. But I've seen a lot of other guys, mumble something about 'that isn't important'.

Driller: certify, and license your people, they'll do a better job, and you'll see it in the bottom line! Like I said: If you can drill, Prove it! - Wayne