Are Recording Engineers "Certified"?

It often amazes me the differences in recording quality from one album to another. I would imagine that each and every studio, recording electronics system, and engineer would each have their own "sonic signature". But how is the recording engineer evaluated? Other than a possible degree or diploma from an accredited school, is there an auditory test that they are subjected to?

Does the record company just trust their credentials and put that engineer at a mixing board and say "Here, record this"? Is that engineer's hearing evaluated. Are they required to take annual hearing tests? Who is the person or group of persons, that give the final "thumbs up" to a recording?

And who decides if the final recorded product is of "acceptable sonic standards"?

Does a record company assign certain recording engineers to certain musical performers? George Martin for example, recorded classical performances for many years before recording The Beatles. I have seen Bob Ludwig's name on hundreds of recordings in a lot of different types of musical styles and disciplines of music. There are many notable recording engineers out there and obviously have been around long enough to have established their credentials.

I know that this a myriad of questions, but I think most of you understand the focus of these questions.
The direct answer to your question is, no there is no formal certification to be a recording engineer. There are a number of schools that offer hands on training in recording techniques and there are even college degrees in recording technology, but this sort of formal training is not a requirement to get a job as an engineer.

Any recording is a collaborative effort between the musicians, the producer, the recording engineer, the mastering engineer and record company. The final sound of a recording is the collective product of all these peoples' efforts. A quality recording or mastering engineer shouldn't have an identifiable sound. Instead, just as with a top flight studio musician, there work should remain unobtrusive and all their decisions should be done in the context of someone else's musical vision.
Some institutions do train people for the job. They are not necessarily those that wind up with real studio jobs though. As to the hit or miss nature of recordings: blame a lack of standards. It's way more art than science, but when someone is good at their craft, the end product normally shows it. Which does not mean that everyone will like the job done. The type of music recorded also requires IMHO different approaches, talents and sensitivities. It may never be a science, which is as it should be, but simple things like having a standard by which to set the volume level properly for a given recording would help. Remember that in most cases a recording is a collaborative effort and that the planned horse often winds up more like a camel.
There are a number of schools. Some give you a "diploma"--which has absolutely no credentials except that you went to that school. Others offer an associates degreed program. None of this guarantees a good quality recording engineer. It is a very interesting question you ask, particularly in light of the advent (yes we are just barely at the advent) of multi channel. There are only a handful of engineers that know how to really mix in that format and there are basically no schools that teach the new formats. Some of the finest recording engineers have had no formal training--they had the gift and learned at the school of hard knocks. I'll bet if you looked at some of the best recorded music you would find that to be the case, but today the schools help open doors for those that want to get into the business.
No. Definitely not. (I worked those 16h/7day weeks for 5yrs). No two people "hear" the same. Just like colour, sound is very subjective. A certificate would be meaningless.
I really don't know if 'certification/dgrees' would mean much as those of us in our own professions---whatever they may be--would probably agree that 60% of the people in our various professions are not as competent as the rest...

Also, I think that lots of older classics are digitized and released with a nod to maximum profit. A great example of great dissappointment would be 'The Best of Cream'---terrible CD. I happened to buy it on the same day as I gought the 'Greatest Hits of The Guess Who'---wonderful quality recording. Another example of awful vs. great would be two sets of Cds that I own that have lots of duplication. The 'Various Artists--Hitsvill U.S.A' on the Motown label is a four Cd collection of just about everything from Motown. I liked it until I was given 'Soul Spectacular--The greatest Hits of All Time' on the Rhino Label. Many songs are duplicated but the Rhino Cd is of such superior quality that I have not bothered with the Motown Cd in my home system. It does get to play in the Cd player that came with my Ford Taurus, though........
Rives, you raise an interesting point regarding multi channel. I own a modest home theater system, but of course being a two channel enthusiast, I would only compromise so much on the HT. So, modest means I didn't spend $20,000 on it, and I don't have racks filled with equipment.

So, considering that the system is set up correctly, I find it interesting that with certain music videos, whether Dolby Digital or DTS, I have instruments behind of me as well as in front of me. It is almost as if the engineer has set the soundstage so that the listener is sitting in the middle of the band or orchestra. I don't understand.

Is that what the soundstage is suppose to resemble? Are you suppose to become a "band member" during the performance? And, has that particular soundstage format been established as the acceptable standard on that particular recording since it's inception?
While these schools may not offer the type of certification that certain other fields do, I think we are being a bit hard on them at the same time.

As an analogy, when I graduated college, I also came with no certification in terms of being a chemist. I simply had a piece of paper or as Rives put it(no offense), a "diploma"--which has absolutely no credentials except that you went to that school.

True enough. But, eventually I interviewed for a job with a great person who became my mentor. During the interview he ascertained that I had no skills whatsoever, and this was in line with his experience of American college graduates in our field. That during the course of his education, in a Soviet bloc country, he was made to run a manufacturing plant for Vitamin B12 after his freshman year. Each summer, they were given another, challenging assignment. That was their educational system, produce people who could do things as opposed to giving them a handshake and a piece of sheepskin and have them get their experience on the job. But, he liked my interest and enthusiasm, so he offered me a job.

The degree was the gateway to the career.

My point being these schools are no different than any of our other colleges. Many of these schools are even accredited.

I know I am taking a long time to make my point, but what I am getting to is to parallel my life experience with that of my best friend. After receiving a college degree, he went to a recording school in Orlando, FL(sorry, I don't remember the name). Again, he only got a diploma which said nothing other than he went there. But, in the same type of situation as me, he received an interview and because of his diploma he got the job. He began working for Gary Katz and Donald Fagan at Riversound Studio in NYC.

Again, the school was the ticket.

As to the question of how recording studios get the work, it's arranged either by the record company or the band. It isn't so different from the way we choose a restaurant or a barber.

Let's try to look at things as they are. And come to the real conclusion, that just like in any field of life, some are good, some are average, and some are bad. Quality is related to the individual, his level of work, his experience, maybe his mood for the day, etc. Education is but one piece of the whole picture.
Trelja--no offense at all. School opens doors. Degrees open more than "dimplomas", but it's what you do with yourself that matters. Sometimes you might get an opportunity without the formal training, but honestly, after you've been in the field (any field) for a number of years, no one really cares about your schooling--they care about your accomplishments.

Buscis2--The answer is "yes". Each engineer is using his art to mix what he thinks it should be. I agree with you that I don't want to be "in" the band. I want to listen to the band--maybe in the 7th or 8th row, but not sitting on top of the guitarist. Multi-channel has the ability to put you anywhere--in fact some day you may have a little joy stick and can stear yourself through the venue and hear what it sounds like in different locations (okay--that's a long ways away--but don't be surprised in 5 years when Yamaha is anouncing just that technology with DSP to hear something in 12 different venues) But that's my opinion, and right now there are many opinions. Right now it's still somewhat of an experimentation phase, and I think over time it will settle down. Think of when stereo first came out and there were all these sounds bouncing back and forth across the speakers. The engineers did it because they could. After a while the "golly gee wiz" factor wore off and the goal was to produce something more realistic. I think the same will happen for the multi-channel mixes. (I sure hope so).