We were driving along the highway when we were forced to stop for construction. Imagine that—construction in Pennsylvania—who would have seen that coming? As we came to a full stop, I noticed this truck in front of us. It had lots of balloons and it looked so festive. But what really caught my eye was the picture on the side panel which caused me to break out in a big smile. It seems that I was in the presence of a Certified Balloon Artist.
My curiosity was piqued so I decided to investigate the journey one takes to become a Certified Balloon Artist. Let me say right now: this is no cakewalk. I’m not sure which is more difficult to achieve–a certification in balloon artistry or a certification in neurosurgery.
Scoff if you must but this is serious stuff. As a person who failed shoelace tying in kindergarten and who hasn’t improved much since that time, I am in awe of a profession that relies on forming permanent knots in balloons to be successful. But it’s not just the knots that set these people apart. Nope. In order to achieve this high certification status, applicants have to excel at different tasks. They must:
- Complete all three online exams—count ‘em three—with a score of 80 % or higher. The Bar is only one test and I’m not sure if you need to get 80 % before the powers that be make you a lawyer—you know, at least the ones that advertise on TV for bad drug lawsuits.
- They must take continuing education courses for two years before sitting for an in-person exam which consists of a four-hour practical test that highlights an applicant’s skill in balloon designs and centerpieces, permanent and temporary knots (yep, there are those knots), creating a twisted balloon flower and finally producing a five-balloon cluster garland. They have to participate in a mock sales call or delivery presentation and answer six surprise oral questions from the balloon industry test givers who head up the certification curriculum.
That’s a lot of pressure. I can’t remember if the SATs were that hard. I have to admit that this delay in traffic gave me new respect for balloon animal creators and balloon bouquet makers. No longer do I think “It’s easy with helium.” Okay, I might not have ever thought that, but I know not to think that in the future. Next time I see a balloon delivery truck decorated with the words Certified Balloon Artist on its door, I will beep my horn in respect and think “Thank you for putting so much more into balloons than hot air.”