A new learning curve
How online education is changing the way contractors earn certification credits
By Tim O’Toole
When it comes to masonry, hands-on training is difficult to replace. But, when it comes to distance learning, the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is leading the charge.
The MCAA offers more than 300 live and on-demand education sessions each year, with topics ranging from best practices and quality control programs to business leadership and jobsite safety. Each course is focused on making you a better contractor and improving your bottom line.
“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. and a Certified Mason Contractor. “We support the efforts of the MCAA to continually educate and improve the masonry industry.”
Benefits of online education
Save time and moneyYou’re on the East Coast, but the course you want to take is only offered on the West Coast. By the time you pack your bags, book a flight and reserve a hotel, that inexpensive, hour-long class has suddenly turned into a two-day trip costing you thousands of dollars and precious time away from the job. With online courses, you never have to leave the comfort of your office.
Easy accessCan’t make that 10 a.m. class time? Don’t worry about it! Many online courses are offered on demand, so you can learn at your pace, when it’s convenient for you. Apps for your smartphone and tablet are also available, so you don’t even have to be at your computer to attend. Best of all, if you want to review the courses again at a later date, you can simply log back in and watch again.
Learn from instructors across the countryOnline courses can broaden your perspective. Courses are taught by instructors across the country, meaning you’ll gain a different viewpoint than what may normally be taught in your state or region. Plus, you’ll have direct access to these instructors during the presentation, allowing you to get answers to your important questions.
Live Webinar Season PassThe MCAA is proud to bring back the Live Webinar Season Pass for 2014. The 2014 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.
Nearly 60 webinars will be offered during 2014. The 2014 season will kick off on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, with “How to Prepare a Professional Masonry Submittal Package,” a topic requested by several mason contractors across the country.
This brand new program will present attendees with a walk-through for preparing a masonry submittal package from start to finish, including where to start your preparation, submittal procedures, examples of specifications, cover letters, compiling submittal information, and finalizing the submittal package for delivery. Government submittals, LEED submittals, equal products, submitting high lift grouting procedures and close out documents also will be discussed briefly.
Additional topics in 2014 will include several popular topics offered in the past such as “Understanding Masonry Codes and Standards,” “Masonry Wall Bracing and Basic Masonry Estimating,” along with a number of new topics, including “Reducing Labor Costs,” “Marketing Checklist for the Masonry Contractor,” “Effective Email Management,” and much more.
The Live Webinar Season Pass can be purchased for only $300 ($600 for non-members). Individual webinars still will be available for purchase starting at $25 for members ($50 for non-members). Visit www.masoncontractors.org/live to purchase the 2014 Live Webinar Season Pass and view a list of upcoming webinars for 2014.
MCAA Virtual UniversityThe MCAA Virtual University offers convenient online safety courses that are available on demand. Self-paced courses for “10-Hour OSHA Outreach Construction Safety” and “30-Hour OSHA Outreach Construction Safety” training, fall protection, scaffold safety and much more can be accessed by you or your employees, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Nearly 30 new Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) on-demand courses have been added to the Virtual University, including “Surface Miner Training,” “Equipment Hazards,” “First Aid for Common Injuries,” “Using Personal Protective Equipment,” and “Working with Explosives.” Most MSHA courses are available to view for as little as $20. Mason contractors registered for Masonry Certification will receive credits in the safety discipline upon completion of each course.
A comprehensive safety course such as the “10-Hour OSHA Outreach Construction Safety” course is required for Masonry Certification. Successful completion of this course would complete the safety discipline.
Earn certification creditWhile the requirements to become a Certified Mason Contractor may seem daunting at first glance, achieving masonry certification actually is much easier than you may think, thanks to online education. Each webinar offered by the MCAA is geared to help mason contractors complete certification requirements. With the right motivation, a mason contractor could become certified in less than one year.
The MCAA’s Masonry Certification program aims to change and revolutionize the bidding process. 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.”
Certification requirementsTo 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.
The primary must earn 75.00 continuing education credits in the following six disciplines:
- Quality Assurance Best Practices (16.00)
- Codes and Standards (10.00)
- Ethics and Business Practice (10.00)
- Safety (10.00)
- Bidding Practices (5.00)
- Masonry Products (5.00)
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.
Quality assurance best practicesThe only courses required for certification are the Quality Assurance Best Practices classes, replacing the Masonry Quality Institute. These courses have been designed by mason contractors throughout the country who are known for specializing in the following eight areas:
- Quality Assurance
- Human Resources
- Teaming with Other Trades
- Best Masonry Processes and Practices
- Sales and Marketing of Your Company
- Best Business Management Practices
- Best and Most Efficient Equipment Practices
- Engineered Masonry
The first three courses – “Quality Assurance for Masonry,” “Human Resources for Masons” and “Job Site Scheduling” – were unveiled during the 2014 MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas.
All eight modules also will be offered online for the first time as live webinars begin in mid- to late-2014.
Maintaining certificationCertification must be renewed every three years. The renewal process is relatively simple. The primary in the firm must have a total of 45.00 continuing education course credits within the three-year period. Supervisors in the firm must have an additional 15.00 hours during the same three-year period.
At the conclusion of the 2014 Live Webinar Season, mason contractors and their supervisors will have been able to earn more than 75.00 credits to complete the Codes and Standards, Ethics and Business Practices, Bidding Practices and Masonry Products disciplines.
Stand out from the crowdThere are currently Certified Mason Contractors in more than 40 states, many of whom relied on online education to complete their requirements.
“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 Robert Gladu, company owner. “I truly believe this certification program will benefit all mason contractors’ bottom lines.”
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.
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.