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Construction: Construction Industry Training and Continuing Education

Construction: Construction Industry Training and Continuing Education

While learning opportunities abound in the construction industry, a number of disciplines offer particularly extensive training. Here are a few trade-specific examples.

Masonry Certification

This certificate, one of the most widely-recognized in the field, can be earned through the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). The Masonry Certfication program will certify the company. However, the primary individual in charge of day-to-day masonry operations such as an owner, CEO or senior management, will be responsible for earning credits and will take the certification exam. Please carefully consider this decision; if the primary leaves the company, the company will lose its current progress towards certification.

Once the requirements have been met, the primary will be eligible to take the certification exam that will measure their command of running a quality masonry firm.

75.00 continuing education credits must be earned by the the primary individual in charge of day-to-day masonry operations such as an owner, CEO or senior management. Please carefully consider this decision; if the primary leaves the company, the company will lose its current progress towards certification.

Any classes related to the business of a mason contractor (with the exception of formal apprenticeship training programs that teach the craft) are eligible for credit.

One hour of course time is equal to one credit. Therefore, an eight hour course would be worth 8.00 credits. A thirty-minute course would be worth 0.50 credits. Credits will be earned in the following six disciplines:

  • Quality Assurance Best Practices (16.00)
  • Codes and Standards (10.00)*
  • Ethics and Business Practices (10.00)
  • Safety (10.00)**
  • Bidding Practices (5.00)
  • Masonry Products (5.00)

* One of these courses must be at least four hours in length and specifically address Codes and Standards.

** A comprehensive safety course is required, such as the OSHA 10-hour Training Course.

The remaining 19.00 credits can be obtained in the six disciplines divided anyway the contractor chooses.

Credits may be self reported; however, detailed documentation of the courses taken and MCAA approval after the course has been taken are required. Courses taken outside of approved courses may not be approved for credit.

The MCAA website will list all approved provider class offerings with full details on the class, day and time. A list of approved classes will also be printed in each issue of Masonry magazine.

100% of the masonry firm's supervisors must attain at least 15.00 continuing education credits in any discipline in order to qualify to sit for the exam.

Once the primary and supervisor have attained the appropriate credits, the primary may take the certification exam. A supervisor is defined as anyone working in the field that manages others. All company supervisors must be listed and earn at least 15 credits in any discipline.

Electrician License/Certification

Individual state Licensing Boards sometimes offer Code Electrical preparation courses and provide information about exam sites. Study questions generally relate to theory, on-the-job knowledge and the National Electrical Code. Some states now include queries about business and law.

A variety of construction-focused software companies and publishers offer computer programs, as well as books designed to help electricians prepare for the exam. No matter the course, industry pundits recommend at least six months of study prior to taking the exam.

Many states require renewal within one to three years of the issued date. This could include a designated number of hours of continuing education, as well as field time.

Journeyman Electrician License/Certification

Requirements for the Journeyman Electrician License vary from state to state. However, the applicant usually must have four years of electrical work experience to earn approval from the State Licensing Board. In many cases, the electrical work must take place under the supervision of an engineer, licensed master electrician or licensed journeyman electrician, with detailed documentation and verification.

Most states allow exam participants two attempts to pass. Portions of the tests - which tend to consist of anywhere from 60 to 100 questions depending on the state - allow open book.

Master Electrician License/Certification

Most states first require the applicant to pass the Journeyman License exam in order to qualify for the Master Electrician License test. In some cases, the government will forego this rule - particularly if the individual submits records that demonstrate much time in the field.

While exam questions vary from one state to the next, these requirements are fairly standard:

  • Applicant must be over 21 years of age
  • Applicant must possess a high school diploma or GED
  • Applicant has a minimum of five years’ hands-on experience in the field
  • Applicant completed a four-year apprenticeship program (approved by the federal government and a federally-certified state agency)
  • Applicant earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and fulfilled two years of practical hands-on experience.

Masonry (Brick, Block and Stone)

For many entering the masonry field, the path does not involve formal schooling, but rather, on-the-job training. Still, vocational schools and courses provided by industry organizations, as well as apprenticeships, can help workers climb the professional ladder.

This construction trade generally falls into several professional advancement categories based on experience and education. These include:

  • Apprenticeship: This usually is divided into first-, second- and third-year rankings. Consisting of on-the-job training coupled with classroom education (trade school), the employer generally covers costs. In many cases, when an apprentice fulfills training requirements over a set time period, he or she receives journeyman mason status.
  • Mason foreman: Persons at this career level often take on supervisory and management roles, including accounting, marketing and personnel work. In addition, they also might perform construction work alongside their employees.
  • Estimator: This job involves preparing cost estimates to help employers in the process of bidding for a project or in determining the price of a product or service.
  • Project supervisor: In this position, workers oversee planning, coordinating and budgeting. They usually engage in conceptual development so that they can direct the organization, scheduling and implementation of the project.
  • Mason contractor: This professional has advanced to owning a company, generally coordinating a team and employing the people in the mason fields listed above.

Continuing Education is useful for professional advancement and also required for certification renewal. For additional training and education, the following entities offer the latest in mason technology and standards:

  • Mason Contractors Association of American (MCAA): The Association offers online courses, webinars, conventions and intensive seminars all designed to bring quality education at a reasonable cost to mason contractors. Additionally, the Association hosts the MCAA Virtual University where individuals can access online courses any time of the day or night, and complete them at their own pace.
  • International Masonry Institute (IMI): In an alliance with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), the two organizations provide training, technical assistance, and continuing education. Offerings include pre-job and advanced training programs, curriculum and standards development, Masonry Camp, certification programs, instructor certification program, supervisor certification program and Contractor College.


Those entering the electrician field after vocational school generally start with a four-year apprenticeship. During this time, a worker receives on-the-job training and additional education. Industry organizations such as the National Electrical Contractors Association, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Independent Electrical Contractors Association all sponsor these programs. The aspiring electrician usually learns electrical code requirements, safety, blueprint reading, electrical theory and more.

While there are many different avenues for one seeking an electrician apprenticeship, most require the person to be at least 18 years old, a high school graduate, or the holder of a General Equivalency Diploma (GED). Once workers wrap up their apprenticeships, they may go on to become an Electrician Journeyman and ultimately, a Master Electrician.

More information about apprenticeship opportunities and continuing education can be found at:

Carpentry/ Framing

This trade, like most in the industry, starts with an apprenticeship and advances to Journeyman and Master Craftsman after so many years. Usually, experience leads the way to qualification for certification. Still, as the industry changes rapidly - moving toward more efficient and environmentally friendly practices - a number of institutes and trade groups provide continuing education on the matters of the day.

Since carpenters and framers help with the actual development of a project, this advancement option is ideal for many in these fields. On average, professionals who receive a Master's degree - particularly individuals with extensive experience on the jobsite - become construction managers in very large firms or in construction management companies. Individuals who hold a Bachelor's degree in unrelated fields often seek a Master's in construction management or construction science simply to work in the industry.

Modern Green Building Techniques

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.

Other organizations such as Build It Green provide professionals in carpentry and other development fields with ongoing courses related to the latest trends in environmentally-friendly construction. This particular group offers a re-certification program (Certified Green Building Professional) that includes class work based on the most modern advances in green building. CGBP holders must renew every two years, taking continuing education in Energy/Building Science, Material/Indoor Air Quality and Site/ Landscaping/ Water.

Materials cover topics such as renewable energy, weatherproofing, insulation, building technology, energy efficiency, structural systems, recycling materials, waste diversion, storm water control, rainwater collection, conservation and more.

Green Advantage offers green building certification targeted specifically to construction field personnel across trades. (And its GA Certified Practitioner is a green builder certification designed specifically for construction personnel that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute.)


Plumbers who've finished a four-year apprenticeship and want to jumpstart their careers can take advantage of numerous continuing education resources for this particular trade. The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association, for instance, offers a variety of course work and training materials for plumbers seeking apprenticeship and journeyman status.

The American Society of Sanitary Engineering

The ASSE provides a good number of continuing education resources for plumbers. This organization represents a cross-section of the plumbing industry, using the expertise of plumbers, engineers, journeymen, surveyors, inspectors, manufacturers and code officials for information and course subjects. Specifically, ASSE helps enlighten plumbers on the industry's annually changing standards and code.

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