Reasons to become certified today
Why your company needs to become certified
By Tim O’Toole
Nothing can hurt our industry more than unqualified mason contractors being awarded bids, simply because they submitted the lowest cost. These projects often can result in poorly constructed buildings, unhappy customers, and negative marks against the masonry industry.
“I have been in the masonry industry for my whole life, and I hear all the time from other masonry contractors that they are, ‘sick and tired of losing jobs to a masonry contractor that is unqualified to do the project,’ but that is the end of it; no more is said or done,” says Donald E. McCauley Jr. of Hunt Country Masonry Inc. in Leesburg, Va. “Well here is our opportunity to do something and let your voice be heard.”
The Mason Contractors Association of America’s (MCAA) Masonry Certification program aims to change this and revolutionize the bidding process. Masonry Certification is a mark of excellence in our industry. Certification is an investment in your company and your future. Becoming a certified mason contractor demonstrates a company’s commitment to quality, reliability and the highest professional standards.
“Our goal is to provide architects, designers, construction contractors and consumers with an easy way to select and specify professional mason contractors,” says Jeff Buczkiewicz, president and CEO of the MCAA. “Certification now gives them the tools to seek out contractors who have committed their entire firm to meet the stringent requirements of the program.”
Architects across the country are hoping to begin specifying the use of Certified Mason Contractors on their projects. As a Certified Mason Contractor, your company is in an advantageous position to win close bids and become more profitable.
“I believe Masonry Certification will help us procure more of our market share when the architects start specifying Certified Mason Contractors on their projects,” says Robert Gladu, president of Artisan Masonry Inc. in Garland, Texas, and chairman of the MCAA Certification Committee.
“Masonry Certification provides architects and owners a type of insurance policy that assures them the Certified Mason Contractor on their project is a proven quality contractor that knows what they’re doing,” says Gladu. “This gives them the comfort factor to draw more masonry in their projects and know they will be getting a quality, timeless project every time.”
How to become certifiedTo become a Certified Mason Contractor, the primary individual in charge of day-to-day masonry operations, such as an owner, CEO or senior manager, will be responsible for earning credits and will take the certification exam.
Certification requirementsThe primary must earn 75 continuing education credits in the following six disciplines:
- Masonry Quality Institute (16)
Codes and Standards (10)
Ethics and Business Practice (10)
Bidding Practices (5)
Masonry Products (5)
The only required course is the Masonry Quality Institute; all other courses may be obtained through any education provider. A comprehensive safety course also is recommended, such as the OSHA 10-hour Training Course.
Once these requirements are met, the primary will be eligible to take the certification exam. In order to pass the exam, the primary must receive a score of 80 percent or better.
Maintaining certificationCertification must be renewed every three years. The renewal process is relatively simple. The primary in the firm must have a total of 45 continuing education course credits within the three-year period. Supervisors in the firm must have an additional 15 hours during the same three-year period.
Roadmap to certificationWhile the requirements may seem daunting, achieving masonry certification actually is much easier than you may think. In fact, with the time and motivation, a mason contractor could become certified in as little as one year.
The MCAA offers nearly 200 live and on-demand educational sessions each year, with topics ranging from best practices and quality control programs to business leadership and jobsite scheduling. Each course is focused on making you a better contractor and improving your bottom line, and each course offers masonry certification credit.
“The MCAA has provided us a wonderful avenue to continue our training, so that we can deliver quality services to an ever increasingly demanding clientele,” says Brian Procter, a project manager at WASCO Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. “We support the efforts of the MCAA to continually educate and improve the masonry industry.”
Live Webinar Season PassThe MCAA is proud to announce the 2013 Live Webinar Season Pass. The 2013 Live Webinar Season Pass gives you and your entire company year-round access to all live and on demand, recorded webinars for the calendar year.
At least 40 webinars will be offered during 2013. The 2013 season will kick off on Wednesday, March 6, 2013, with Introduction to Movement Joints for Masons. Additional topics will include Introduction to Building Information Modeling, Understanding Masonry Codes and Standards, Masonry Wall Bracing, and much more. Each webinar is geared to help mason contractors complete certification requirements.
At the conclusion of the 2013 Live Webinar Season, mason contractors and their supervisors will have been able to earn more than 70 credits to complete the Codes and Standards, Ethics and Business Practices, Bidding Practices and Masonry Products disciplines.
The Live Webinar Season Pass can be purchased for only $300 ($600 for non-members). Individual webinars will still be available for purchase starting at $25 for members ($50 for non-members). Visit www.masoncontractors.org/live to purchase the 2013 Live Webinar Season Pass and view a list of upcoming webinars for 2013.
MCAA Virtual UniversityThe MCAA Virtual University offers convenient online safety courses that are available on demand. Self-paced courses for OSHA 10- and 30-hour outreach training, fall protection, scaffold safety and much more can be accessed by you or your employees, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A comprehensive safety course such as the OSHA 10-hour Training Course is required for Masonry Certification. Successful completion of this course would complete the safety discipline.
Approved Provider NetworkAn integral component of the certification program is the Approved Provider Network. The Approved Provider Network pre-approves and designates course work for certification credit. Mason contractors have the opportunity to meet education requirements for certification by completing these courses.
Nearly 30 companies and associations have partnered with the MCAA to provide more than 500 education opportunities to mason contractors throughout the country. All approved courses offered by providers have been reviewed by the MCAA Certification Committee and have been accepted as quality education.
Courses offered by Approved Providers will allow mason contractors to obtain credits toward any of the required disciplines.
The Masonry Quality InstituteDay-to-day operations leave little time to assess your policies and procedures. You want to ensure your company maintains the highest level of quality construction, while earning maximum profits. How do you implement quality standards that are measurable and help increase profitability?
The Masonry Quality Institute (MQI) is a two-day course that assists masons in evaluating their services, meeting stringent customer expectations, and improving their profitability. This program will provide you the ability to measure your company's level of quality.
The course agenda will include an introduction to the quality process and detailed implementations of the basic principles of quality on the first day. On the second day, attendees will interact with the course instructors in discussing the quality process and learn strategies for team building and problem solving.
Upon completion of this course, mason contractors working toward certification will earn 16 credits to complete the Masonry Quality Institute discipline.
The MCAA will host the next Masonry Quality Institute Jan. 19-20, 2014, during the MCAA Convention at the World of Masonry/World of Concrete in Las Vegas. Visit www.masoncontractors.org/certification for additional future dates and locations for the MQI course.
Grandfathered coursesThe MCAA will grandfather education courses taken for both the primary and supervisors. You may submit courses taken up to five years ago. Documentation proving the courses were taken such as a certificate of completion or proof of payment for a course and a description of the course will be required.
Practice testsAt the conclusion of each discipline, optional practice tests will be unlocked. The practice tests have been designed to assist you in preparing for the certification exam. You will be allowed to take the practice tests as many times as necessary. The practice tests can be used on the certification exam.
Certification examIf you follow the provided roadmap above, you will be ready to take the Masonry Certification exam in less than one year. The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions and is open book. In order to pass the exam, the primary needs a score of 80 percent or better. If the exam is not passed on the first attempt, the primary will be allowed to retake it at a future date.
The next stepNow that you’ve read the whys and hows to becoming a Certified Mason Contractor, it’s time to take the next step and begin the certification process. Once registered, the MCAA will send you a username and password that will allow access to your certification profile. The profile will track your progress to certification, and will keep you informed of what credits are needed and in what disciplines you need them.
Visit the MCAA online at www.masoncontractors.org/certification to register to become a Certified Mason Contractor, and view a full list of upcoming education offered in your area and courses available online.
“The reason I had my company, Artisan Masonry Inc., get certified is that I felt it would differentiate our company from our competition, and in this economy we need every advantage we can get,” says Gladu. “I truly believe this certification program will benefit all mason contractors’ bottom lines.”
Stand out from the crowd. Become a Certified Mason Contractor today.
About the Author
Tim O’Toole is the Director of Marketing, Education, and Information Technology for the MCAA. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and has worked in the masonry industry since 2003.