April is National Home Inventory Month: Find out more
10 May 2017

Organizer and Inventory Professional Achieves Certification

NICA Congratulates Organizer and Inventory Professional Member Rachel Lyddy for achieving Inventory Specialist Certification.

Rachel LyddyPRESS RELEASE – The National Inventory Certification Association™ (NICA) is pleased to announce that Rachel Lyddy, owner of Louisiana-based iORGANIZE, LLC has recently earned the designation of Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS). Achieving this designation confirms her knowledge to provide quality residential and small business contents inventory services.


To earn this certification, Lyddy passed specified courses developed by NICA, agreed to conduct business according to the asset industry Code of Ethics, and accumulated a required number of Continuing Education Units. There is an increasing awareness of the necessity and benefits of having a prepared photographic and written record of one’s personal property. This knowledge and the ever-increasing busy lifestyles of homeowners and business owners alike create a growing demand for a professional inventory service provider.


Rachel is adding inventory services to her current organizing company. She explained, “I started iORGANIZE about a year ago and realized the synergy these two services create. Being able to provide both organizing and inventory services to my clients is an exciting expansion of my business .It also provides an opportunity for me to educate people about the benefits of a prepared inventory.


Achieving certification is not required for the contents inventory professional. By choosing to invest in  continuing education, Lyddy stated, ”I wanted to receive knowledge about the Inventory industry and receive support from NICA. A certification will also reassure my clients that I have the necessary training to conduct inventories.


Cindy Hartman, Managing Director of NICA, said, “Rachel is a full-time educator, so the flexibility of her business is extremely important. Both the organizing and inventory services allow her to pursue both of her career choices. We are pleased to welcome her as a Certified Member, and know that she will serve her clients well.”  


Based in Many, Louisiana, iORGANIZE provides this line of services to residential and commercial clients within an approximate 100 mile radius. 

04 Jan 2017

Collections Inventory Course Authored by Home Inventory Professional

NICA member authored a course for the National Inventory Certification Association’s Continuing Education Program.

HoekwaterThe National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) recently released an online, self-directed course, titled Collections Inventory. Extending the Continuing Education Program curriculum, this course was written by Tricia Hoekwater, Certified member of NICA and owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

The association seeks to provide continuing education for members and others in the industry. The growing trend of having valuables and collectibles documented encouraged the creation of the Collections Inventory course. Often business and residential clients are not seeking an inventory of all their assets, but want to have an itemized inventory of their collectibles, such as figurines, stamps, weapons, artwork, books, sports memorabilia, etc. Others who choose to hire a home inventory professional to document all the belongings in their home also want the collectibles documented item-by-item, which is a more specialized service.

Collections Inventory Course

Cindy Hartman, Managing Director of NICA, stated, “Tricia is a member of the association and has extensive experience in providing itemized inventories for client’s collectibles. I was pleased when she agreed to share her experience and knowledge with the entire industry by authoring this course.” Topics include the purposes for collections inventories, examples of how to document specific types of collectibles, process strategies, and how to market a collections inventory service. Creating a collections inventory can be overwhelming. This course breaks it down into manageable steps to ensure a quality result for the client.

Hoekwater views her membership in NICA as an opportunity to serve the asset inventory industry. She explained, “I always strive to provide the best service to my clients, which is why I became a Certified Inventory Specialist. NICA is a resource for continued learning, which has helped me grow professionally and financially. Writing this course gave me the opportunity to help fellow home inventory professionals pursue this specialty.”  

In addition to providing comprehensive home inventory, collections inventory, decluttering, photo archiving, and paper management services, Tricia speaks to senior and community groups on the topics of Home Inventory, DeCluttering, Digital Legacy, and Digital Photo Libraries. For more information, call 925.206.0103 or visit Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

Click on this link to purchase the online, self-directed Collections Inventory course, which is available on the NICA website.

13 Jul 2016

Renewing Your Designation

RenewalWe have just a little more than 5 months remaining in 2016. Therefore, we wanted to remind everyone who became certified prior to this year that it’s not too early to begin working on the 5 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) required annually to maintain your Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation. Continued education is a key element of professionalism, and our recent surveys have shown that this is a highly valued component of being an inventory provider.

Course Choices

We have developed courses related to our industry, as well as general topics appropriate for any small business owner. Some of these are Customer Service, Time Management, Social Media, and of course, our newest, Project Management. For the full list of all available courses, and to get started on earning your CEUs, click here.

Members receive a 50% discount off all courses and the certification exam. If you don’t remember your code, please contact the NICA office and we’ll be happy to send it to you. We are including a chart that shows how you can achieve your 5 CEUs. It is also on the Professional Development page of the website.


Earning non-NICA Continuing Education Units

If you have participated in synergistic industry webinars, seminars, or courses (insurance, appraisals, adjusters, etc.), or general business education, these may qualify toward your CEU requirement. Send the information to nica@nationalinventorycertificationassociation.com. The committee will review the material and let you know if it can apply to your 5 CEU requirement.

If you have any questions about a specific course, feel free to contact the NICA office.

09 Jun 2016

Project Management Course Released

ContinuingEdIn our continued effort to add a variety of topics to our Continuing Education Program, NICA has recently released the course, Project Management. Our initial online, self-directed course offerings were Code of Ethics (to set a standard for our industry) and Inventory 101 (which covers the various types of inventories). Also included in our first course releases were Residential Contents Inventory and  Business Contents Inventory. These offer a variety of approaches one can take to provide inventory services to home owners, renters, and business owners. By offering the various techniques, it enables beginning inventory professionals to have a concise road map of successfully applied processes from which to choose as they create or refine their own personal property inventory services.

Once these four foundation courses were developed, our goal was to offer a variety of topics that will benefit small business owners of any sector. Many of these courses, though, include examples of how the information can be applied to the inventory industry.  Our most recent addition to the NICA curriculum, released today, is Project Management.

Project Management Course Description

Personal property inventory professionals are often called to document the contents of extremely large homes, multiple properties, and commercial buildings. These are projects that offer great revenue, but many decline the opportunity due to the size or complexity of the job. The reason for turning down these great opportunities is that they don’t have the knowledge to approach it with confidence.

Basically, it all comes down to project management. Even a small inventory is a “project” that must be managed. Sometimes even small ones can have a unique twist to them, creating a question of, “How do I begin?” or “How do I approach this?” No matter the size or type of inventory – whether it is a couple hours or a few weeks – managing it is essential for a professional outcome.

To ensure quality for this online, self-directed course, as with all others, the author of this course has credentials and experience in this field. In addition to being a Project Management Professional (PMP), the course creator is a Certified Inventory Specialist. Having both of these certifications, and the experience to go along with the education, we are confident that you will find value and a great foundation to gain the confidence in accepting the projects that require this expertise.

The course was written using the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) principles from the Project Management Institute and lays down the foundations of project management. The topics in this 3-module course are as follows:

Module 1 – What is Project Management?

  • Definition of Project Management
  • The Five Project Management Process Groups
  • Knowledge Areas
  • Project Management vs. Operations Management

Module 2 – Scope and Activities

  • Scope
  • The Stakeholder
  • Managing Customer Expectations
  • Work Breakdown Structure
  • Defining the Activities
  • Estimating the Duration of a Project

Module 3 – Monitoring and Identifying Success

  • Monitoring the Project
  • Project documents
  • Success criteria
  • Project Management Definitions

Click on this link to access the Project Management course.  The cost is just $60, and only $30 for NICA members (remember to apply your member code to receive the 50% discount). Once completed successfully, you will receive 2 CEUs to be applied towards achieving certification or to the required annual 5 CEUs of continuing education.

06 Jun 2016

NICA Member Tricia Hoekwater Authors Project Management Course

NICA member Tricia Hoekwater, certified in Project Management and Asset Inventory, authored the Project Management Course for the home inventory industry’s Continuing Education Program.

HoekwaterPRESS RELEASE – It is imperative that the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) contract with qualified authors to create online, self-directed courses for the Continuing Education Program. The most recently released course, Project Management, was created by Tricia Hoekwater, a member of NICA, who is certified as a Project Management Professional, a Certified Inventory Specialist, and owner of Uniquely Yours Digital Solutions.

“We thought it would be difficult to locate someone with experience in both the Project Management and the Home Inventory sectors, who also has the writing skills required to create a quality course. We are very fortunate to find this in one of our certified members,” NICA Managing Director, Cindy Hartman said. With the asset inventory industry mind, Hoekwater included examples of how specific steps throughout the project can be applied specifically to personal property inventory projects. However, the course is written with the intent to serve any professional who seeks to gain the knowledge required to manage projects that will help ensure a successful result.  

Tricia earned her PMP certification in 2008 from the Project Management Institute. Prior to achieving certification, she studied Project Management at U.C. Berkeley and received an honors certificate in Project Management. Tricia shared her background by stating, “I have worked as a Project Manager since the late 90’s in a variety of industries including law, telecom, digital media consulting, direct sales, and the cruise industry.” She used the certification professionally in website development, facilities management, marketing projects, and most recently as an Inventory Professional in the San Francisco Bay area.

What ended up merging these two interests began in 2006 when Hoekwater experienced a home robbery. She practiced as an inventory professional indirectly when she had to put her project management skills to work.Tricia explained, “I had to identify what was lost, create an items lost inventory for insurance and the police report, and then subsequently, created an inventory of my personal assets where none existed before.”

In 2008 during the weak economy, Hoekwater lost her project management position and was unable to find replacement work in the private sector. She discovered an 11-week mini-MBA program (Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment) and  launched her home inventory business 30 days after graduation.

Many home and business inventory professionals fear taking on a large inventory project due to a lack of knowledge in tackling a multi-unit or multi-property opportunity. As an inventory professional, Hoekwater uses her project management skills to assist in identifying her clients’ needs, developing the contract and managing her team of onsite and back-end support – all necessary to successfully complete a project.

Hoekwater sees the value in continuing education, which encouraged her to accept the course-writing project. She concluded, “In an ongoing quest to provide the best service to my clients, I became a Certified Inventory Specialist. Having NICA as a resource for continued learning has been so gratifying to me and helped me grow professionally and financially. My business has always been about helping people document their assets, minimize paper, and have an organized system for tracking their assets. Writing this course gave me the opportunity to assist others in this industry.”  

In addition to Home Inventory services, Tricia speaks to senior and community groups on the topics of Home Inventory, DeCluttering, Digital Legacy, and Digital Photo Libraries.  

The online, self-directed Project Management course will be available by mid-June on the Professional Development page of the NICA website.

06 Jan 2016

Certification for Whom?

Blue Ribbon-Gold MiddleA question we’re often asked is exactly who do we certify? Since there are many types of inventory that is documented and tracked in the business world, this is a good question. The short answer is, we provide certification for Personal Property Inventory Professionals. This industry is often referred to as “home inventory.” Personal property is best described as the items that are not attached to the structure. Think of taking the roof off of a house or other building, picking that building up, then turning it upside down. Everything that falls out is personal property. Therefore, personal property is the “contents” or “belongings” that a person or company owns. Items affixed, such as a furnace, hot water heater, flooring, light fixtures, built-in bookcases, built-in appliances, etc., are all part of the structure and do not fall under the category of personal property.

Though our certification is focused on the home inventory industry, one course, titled Inventory 101, is an introduction to the many types of inventory – retail, finished goods, raw materials, etc. This is to help educate our certified professionals to make them aware of the differences. There are many reasons for needing this knowledge, the most important is to know what types of jobs to accept and what ones to refer elsewhere. An additional awareness gives them an overview of the other industries. In fact, some of our Certified Inventory Specialists have considered adding other inventory services to their list of specialties due to the knowledge gained taking this course.


09 Dec 2015

We’re Makin’ A List

santalistThis is not your typical Santa’s list. It’s not about who is naughty or who is nice.

We did, however, check it twice!

Many people ask why someone should be – or would invest in becoming – certified by the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) when it’s not required to do so. After all, it takes an investment of time and money to achieve the designation of a Certified Inventory Specialist. Many professions, such as insurance agents, CPAs, nurses, etc., require certification and/or licensing to remain active in their chosen profession. In the asset inventory industry, however, it is one’s choice. Since it isn’t mandated, does it makes sense to pursue the privilege to use the initials CIS?

As the Managing Director of NICA, I thought it would be appropriate to compile the benefits of certification for inventory professionals; many of these items were provided by some of our certified members.

List of reasons inventory professionals are certified

  1. Adds credibility.
  2. Gives us a sense of pride.
  3. Gives us a sense of accomplishment.
  4. Proof that we care enough about our industry to choose to take a leadership role.
  5. Places us among other professionals who value excellence.
  6. Shows that we pursue continuing education.
  7. Indicates to prospective clients that we are always seeking ways to gain knowledge and skills.
  8. Shows our current client base that we are not just sitting on our laurels, but are always seeking ways to improve.
  9. Helps provide confidence for our clients even before they meet us.
  10. Benefit of referrals from other certified professionals.
  11. Discounts on courses provided by NICA.
  12. Clients ask for it, so obviously they value it!

I am also the owner of a home inventory service, and have often been asked if we are certified. We are glad that we can say “yes.” Due to that answer, we have secured jobs when otherwise the client might have chosen to go elsewhere. Being certified is a list we are proud to be on.

05 Aug 2015

Certification Process Improvements

Blue Ribbon-Gold MiddleChange is inevitable when a determined mission is to always strive for improvement. That is what brought the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) to create a 2nd rendition of the certification program for the Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation.

These changes were not made on a whim. Instead we monitored the process, conducted additional research, and had discussions with some members of NICA and also members of other associations. We know that changes affect all members, and didn’t take the altered certification and renewal of the designation lightly. However, our findings have encouraged minor changes that we believe will be accepted in a positive manner.

Incrased CEU Requirement

The number of CEUs required to apply to take the CIS Certification exam has increased from 10 to 15. An almost unanimous agreement that 10 CEUs were not enough to cover an overall education, whether that education be experience, formal education, or online courses offered by NICA. The general consensus is that 15 is still very reasonable, but gives more credibility to the certification due to the increased effort.

The new itemized list of the requirements to achieve CIS certification can be found here on the NICA website.

This small change will help ensure a more well-rounded education, giving more credibility to our certification program.

Assistance during the transition

This improved format takes effect immediately, and everyone will be grandfathered into the new process. If you are currently working towards your certification, please contact the NICA office if you need clarification or assistance. We will work with you individually during this transition to help you achieve your goal.

In addition to your association creating new courses on a scheduled basis, the Inventory Institute is focusing on providing CEU-approved webinars and other opportunities as well to provide a variety of options to meet your CEU requirements for certification.

17 Jun 2015

Gaining New Knowledge – It Should Never End

professional devI recently read an article on PickTheBrain.com that talked about the importance of life-long learning. Being out of school, whether that be after high school graduation or upon completion of your post-graduate degree(s), there is a necessity to continue to learn. Think about what you know now, after years of employment or owning your own business (or both), and compare your current knowledge to when you “finished” school. Whether you gain new information through reading, attending seminars and webinars, taking courses at your local university, or enjoying the convenience of online courses, continuing to expand your knowledge is essential to your continued growth as an individual and as a professional.

The various opportunities to gain new knowledge offered through the National Inventory Certification Association (NICA) is focused on this exact premise – the need to continue to expand your knowledge not only of the asset inventory industry, but also areas of that benefit all small business owners.

Read a book

When I was a young girl, my summers were filled with weekly visits to the library. I checked out as many books that I was allowed to have at one time and devoured them. One of the fond memories of my childhood are those of sitting under a tree in the back yard reading about anything and everything I was interested in. Now we don’t need to even leave the house to read a book. Ebooks are available everywhere!

The NICA bookstore provides a variety of business topics, and not just for inventory professionals. Specific to the industry, there are ebooks for the do-it-yourselfer to learn how to complete home, business, and RV inventories. For the business professional, downloadable products include networking, goal-setting, and achieving success. And anyone who owns a computer knows the importance of keeping your computer running well and clear of malware. We even have a book for that!

Take a course

There are a plethora options to enrich your knowledge on just about any subject of interest. Local universities and community colleges are a great source, and you don’t have to be earning a degree to attend. Many schools also offer online courses if you prefer the convenience of learning from home.

The courses developed for NICA are downloadable for immediate access. These Continuing Professional Education courses are self-paced, so you can fit them into your schedule no matter how busy you are. We provide courses written to meet the needs of the asset inventory professional. However, our association acknowledges that there is more to being a professional than just having industry knowledge. Therefore, our current list of business courses includes the topics of time management, customer service, and social media.

Achieve certification

Some choose to pick and choose their topics. For example, you might want to take a cooking class, one on photography, or learn more about a hobby in which you have just developed an interest. If you just started your business, an accounting course might be in your best interest.

Some, however, do seek their first college degree. There are a variety of reasons for this. Many see it as a need to enhance their resume to find a better job or to get a promotion. Others – many entrepreneurs and business owners – find this formal education as a way to achieve growth to help them gain an all-around business knowledge. Earning a degree isn’t reserved just for the young. As an adult student, I am proud to have achieved my bachelor’s degree when I was in my 40’s and my MBA in my early 50’s.

A college degree isn’t for everyone. Many prefer to focus on exhibiting their expertise in their professional field (accountants, insurance agents, realtors, etc.) by achieving certifications. This helps them stand out from the others in their industry and to show their clients and prospective clients that they value being one of the best. In our industry, NICA offers a program to earn a Certified Inventory Specialist (CIS) designation.

All forms of continuing education for self-improvement are excellent. The key is to keep learning, keep your skills sharp, and your areas of interest growing. This creates a well-rounded  individual – one who is knowledgeable, interesting – and just as important – interested in others.

17 Dec 2014

Two Terms Frequently Confused

2QuestionsTwo terms that are often confused, which results in incorrect usage, are “certification” and “designation.” We take this blog post as an opportunity to share the distinctions.


From BusinessDictionary.com: Formal procedure by which an accredited or authorized person or agency assesses and verifies (and attests in writing by issuing a certificate) the attributes, characteristics, quality, qualification, or status of individuals or organizations, goods or services, procedures or processes, or events or situations, in accordance with established requirements or standards.

The Certification program for Certified Inventory Specialists, created jointly with the Inventory Institute, refers to the confirmation that you have completed the stated requirements. The association management standards are to confirm this accomplishment through either an external review, assessment, or education. This standard is met through the achievement of a stated number of CEUs along with passing the specified courses and the Certification Exam.


This is simply the letters you use after your name to indicate that you have successfully completed your certification. Doctors add MD and PhD after their name; nurses include RN, accountants proudly include CPA; the inventory professional earns the letters CIS, stating that they are a Certified Inventory Specialist.

So, in a nutshell, you use your designation letters (CIS) to tell your prospects, clients, other professionals, and fellow industry members that you have taken a leadership role and have achieved your certification, that you have achieved the designation of being a Certified Inventory Specialist.