3m certification OEM required


New Member
One of my accounts has asked that i become "3m Certified" . I see on the 3m website that they offer classes in St Paul at 3M , and also at Lowen in KS. Anyone here any have preferences/suggestions as to location? Are there any other locations anyone knows about?
Also, I am nursing a bad shoulder, and while I think I can make it through the classes, I most likely will supervise an employee installer. Anyone think there's a real conflict there or would each individual need certs? Is there warranty consideration to be concerned about here?


there's 2 different certifications... one for a shop and one for an individual. Both can be completed by any employee.

mark in tx

New Member
As long as the customer is willing to pay for this new requirement, I would take the option that causes the least disruption to the shop.


New Member
Years ago we had a job which you had to have 3M Certification.
When the guy came round to sort this he had a look around had a cup of coffee and said "You guys seem to know what you are doing. It would be rude of me to tell you how to do your job" And after drinking his coffee he left us our certification!!!!!!
I don't know if this is how it is done now as this was back in the 90s....
I couldn't believe it.


auto accents sc

New Member
Out of curiosity, what type of client is requiring this? One you only do installs for or other. How about the paint protection film, are you certified for that with 3M?


New Member
Full time installer not supervisor!

I most likely will supervise an employee installer. Anyone think there's a real conflict there or would each individual need certs?

According to the 3M web site, ONE FULL TIME INSTALLER needs to complete the test.

Requirements for Becoming a 3M Certified Graphics Installation Company

This is a challenging program for companies, designed to qualify and test installation companies that seek to be best in class.
  1. All requirements developed and administered by the UASG
  2. Requirements include, but not limited to:
    1. Meet business requirements specified by the UASG
      The UASG requires companies to be in business for three years, submit industry references, and undergo a scored evaluation of their operations during an on site interview.
    2. Successful passage of the 3M Certified Graphics Installation Company test by at least one full time employed installer in your company. The test is a rigorous two-day hands-on and written test, which includes demonstrating knowledge and/or skill for the following applications: vehicle wraps, boat wraps(written test only); trailers with rivets and corrugations; smooth walls; textured surfaces; floor graphics. Other applications may be added at the UASG and 3M's discretion.
    3. UASG members are required to adhere to a shared code of conduct and to submit annual documentation to validate employment of their tested installer(s), insurance, and compliance of their business practices.
For a complete list of requirements, visit UASG.org



New Member
thanks photo . i thought i read that page, musta read it with my eyes closed.
Volkswagen is launching a new program, and they will require the dealers to hire 3m certified installers for the application of OEM sponsored wraps and graphics. I dont have much more info on it at this time, but i can fill you guys in as i get it.
auto accents sc - no certs on the paint film. i am installing avery nano film exclusively and there is no installer program other than the distributor's qualification to purchase film.


New Member
lots of work and time to get that cert for something you MIGHT do once a month. im all for 3M certification and will be going to do it myself here very shortly, but i would never do it for the reason you are considering.


New Member
As Mike said, there are two certs from 3M. There are two others (there are others, but these are the more recognized, respected programs) (Professional Decal Application Association (PDAA, administered by SGIA), and Lowen Certified. Since 3M is the topic here, that's what I'll focus on. 3M Certified Graphics Installation Company and 3M Preferred Graphics Installer. I'll break them down, as many don't know the difference. We are a 3M Certified Graphics Installation Company, and PDAA Master Certfied.

3M Certified Graphics Installation Company
This is the original 3M Certified Installer program that is administered by the United Applications Standards Group (UASG - uasg.org). When all the stuff went down with the UASG/3M/Lowen last year, the programs changed a bit, and the 3M Certified Installation Company program was born. This is a program that is backed by 3M and administered by the UASG.

  • A certification of the company
  • Certifies business practices and requires adhering to a code of ethics
  • Requies a minimum of three years in business
  • Test administered in St Paul at 3M Facility by both 3M and UASG representatives
  • Certifies technical ability and knowledge via a hands on test and written test
  • Requires a W2 employee (NO subcontractors) to pass the test. An employee who has passed the test must be employed by the company to remain certified
  • Requires onsite interview and site inspection prior to testing
  • Requires annual dues, carrying liability insurance, and annual verification of employment of certified installer, insurance, adherance to code of ethics, etc

3M Preferred Graphics Installer
This program was created to provide a certificate to individuals versus companies. 3M wanted to increase its installer base, and offer individual certification, much like an ASE certification for a mechanic.
  • Testing is offered at 3M's campus in St Paul.
  • In addition, 3M may consider an applicant for 3M Preferred Graphics Installer program after the individual has passed the Lowen Certified Installer test offered in Hutchinson, Kansas
  • Becoming Lowen Certified does not necessarily qualify for 3M Preferred Graphics Installer status.
  • Certificate is held by the individual, not the company.
  • Certifies technical ability and knowledge via a hands on test and written test
  • No minimum requirement for time in business.
  • Does not certify best business practices

One big criticism of the 3M Certified Graphics Installation Company program is that the company becomes certified, and then hires $8 an hour help that does not meet the standards. This has been, and is a problem as far as I can see. Likewise, I've seen companies hire subcontractors that aren't worth a damn. Personally, we ensure that our installers are up to par. This is a business choice, and something we do to ensure our own high standards.

You won't be able to supervise an employee. You can, however, both test on your own. This is what I did, not only to hedge my bet when it comes to passing the test, but I carry the UASG Certificate (as well as one of my employees), so I never have to worry about not having an installer on staff that's certified. On another note, if my employee were to leave and work for another company, the new company would not be able to claim certification unless they pass the test again, and meet all requirements for certification.

Neither certification has anything to do with 3M's warranty. I may suggest, however, that they may be less likely to claim "installer error" if you have demonstrated your ability through testing.

As you're seeing now, certain clients and program require certification. Many, many people here see no value in a certification. This has been argued countless times, and good for them. Most customers don't care. To others, it may be a great selling point. Others may require it.

Heyskull: I highly doubt you received any certification after what you described happened. A certification is not someone telling you how to do your job. That would be training. A certification is a demonstration of your ability to adhere to certain practices.

Generally, it takes a couple of months to get certified, so I'd say submit your application and get your shoulder fixed up in the meantime. It takes a while to get the application submitted, references checked, onsite interview completed, and then you get to schedule the hands on and written tests.

Who knows how often you'll get called on for these VW wraps.. could be huge.. might not be. Either way, if your client is forced to find another installer because you don't get certified, you'll probably lose the rest of your business with them.


New Member
Be careful with UASG, they pick and choose.

Anybody trying to get 3M Certified will have to be careful. The controlling board members of the UASG will pick and choose who they want as 3M certified. 3m itself has no control over the UASG, even though a board member is from 3M as an entity only.

You can be the best installer, have the cleanest shop, and all the necessary precursers for being certified. But the guy who interveiws you also owns a sign shop and is concerned about who he will be competing against. If you are close to him or he is tight wiht another existing UASG member you will never have a chance.

3m does not pick nor does it do any of the testing. Even though you test at 3M faciltiy, the UASG board members are testing you. They decide if they want to give their predetermined results to 3M for ok.


New Member
Since I first posted this thread, I have not heard anything further regarding this VW program. It doesnt really surprise me, as this is typical of VW. If the time comes, i will sub contract any installs. From what little literature I saw from VW, these are not wraps but smaller digital print installs. Hardly worth the cost of having a 3M certified installer involved with in the first place, so I suspect they will be revising there installation program anyway.


New Member
The UASG has what is the fairest, most structured testing & set of requirements out there. Their testing, from the onsite interview to he hands on/written test, to references are all based on a points system. Get enough points and you pass. Not enough and you fail.

Chris, I believe I know exactly which program you're referring to. Give me a call when you have a chance and I'll give you my take.

NE Installs

New Member
You are right perimage! Board Members of the UASG will flood the market of opposing graphic installation companies with new UASG members. If your a printer you can get into the UASG blindfolded. If your an installer and anywhere near anyone on the board good luck. The funny thing is I have worked for a number of the UASG members in my part of the country and they all send me into each other's territory rather then call their fellow members to do a job. I have heard first hand from two of the largest companies in the business that they are screaming for options in the markets heavily controlled by UASG members. Both companies have suffered huge losses when they hire a UASG Certified Company (for top dollar) and the person certified is in the office or too old to climb a ladder then they send rookies out and mess things up. When it comes down to it the UASG only has organization over Preferred Installers and they do not even use each other all the time. They(meaning your potential competition) want to know too much about you and your business.

Dont worry if the UASG wont let you in or floods your market with companies. Then just become a 3M Preferred Installer and move to their market... Look on the UASG map pick the highest populated area where there is only one UASG member and open up shop. They can not stop you and if you call the right companies you will be swimming in work.


New Member
I agree with NE Installs. I've experienced the same thing first hand. Your best bet is to go direct with 3M it's the best way to go. It's too political with the UASG. NE Installs is dead on about them wanting all your info etc. There's no need.

NE Installs

New Member

The 3M Preferred Program was created because of the need for more certified installers which was the original purpose of the UASG. Because of the politics involved with the UASG and the practices of some of the board they are shooting themselves in the foot. These practices forced 3M and Lowen to create the 3M Preferred program out of necessity. This country needs thousands of certified installers not less then a hundred. The UASG has been successful at keeping companies out of the installation business to better themselves. Now the times are catching up with them and in a few years they may be irrelevant due to 3M Preferred program.
The UASG is a clique that will bend the rules for certain people / companies. It's all about who you know. They have a rule about being in business for 3 years or more but there are some companies who have been members as long as they have been in business. Its for these reasons that I believe the UASG is not what it used to be. Its sad really because there are still allot of good members but they are being unjustly served by their board.