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June 18, 2007 9:49 AM CDT

Tips for Achieving Certification


Make the commitment to achieve your certification designation.
Make the commitment to achieve your certification designation.

If you are reading this, you have already taken the most important step toward becoming a Certified Mason Contractor. The old adage is that any long journey is accomplished by taking the first step. So we're going to help you out by providing helpful tips to make the certification process easier for you to go through.

Step One: Commit to Start
Make the commitment to achieve your certification designation. Obtaining certification will require full commitment. Make the determination that you will complete the process no matter how long it takes.

Step Two: Pledge to Finish
Make a pledge to yourself that you will earn your certification no matter what. Even if it takes more time than you thought or even if you do not pass the certification exam the first time you take it. Make the steely determination that you will achieve certification.

Step Three: Take an Inventory of Your Educational Classes
You need a game plan on how you are going to achieve the necessary educational credits. The best place to start is to take an inventory of all of the educational programs that you have attended in the past. Create a list by year of all of the classes that you have taken going back five years. Once you have completed the inventory, check to see which classes you have documentation for, such as a certificate of completion, a paid receipt or records from the organization that provided the class.

Classes that are offered by state and local associations, national associations such as the American Institute of Architects or accredited colleges or universities that are approved by the MCAA will count towards certification.

Step Four: Count Your Credits
Calculate how many credits each class is worth and then total the credits. You may be closer to the 200 credits than you think. Remember to include the 10 credits that you automatically earn by being a member of an association (if you are a member). It's a good idea to ask other people in your organization to review the list that you have compiled. Have someone review your list just incase you may have forgotten some educational classes or qualified programs.

Step Five: Start Earning Credits
Once you have your inventory complete and know how many credits you have, you can begin to earn additional credits. Check the MCAA website,, on a regular basis to see what new educational programs are being offered. Also, many local groups are good sources of education and have already started to offer classes that would count toward certification. Don't forget to look into AIA programs as well as college level classes. A finance, accounting or even a marketing class could count toward your credit hours (just remember that it has to be a class that would directly benefit the operation of a mason contractor).

Step Six: Get the Requirements Out of the Way Quickly
Only two classes are mandatory to qualify for the certification exam: The Masonry Quality Institute (MQI) and an approved masonry code class.

The MCAA is the only organization that offers the MQI classes, worth 20 credits. It will be offered numerous times each year at different locations. Do not wait to see if the MQI will be coming to your local area take the class early and get it out of the way as soon as possible.

The second mandatory class is a masonry code class. The MCAA offers an Understanding Masonry Codes & Standards throughout the country but these classes can also be offered by approved local associations.

Step Seven: Keep Good Records
As you take your classes, remember to obtain a certificate of completion and keep those records along with additional documentation that you have completed the class and from what organization. Remember, not all programs are approved. If you have doubts, call the MCAA before you sign up for the class.

You must keep track of your records do not send them to the MCAA National Headquarters until you complete your application to take your exam. We do not keep track of your progress until you become certified. Keep all of your records and when you complete your application to sit for the exam, you will send your records in with your application. The MCAA will verify that your records are acceptable during the application review process.

Step Eight: Make Sure Your Supervisory Personnel Have Their Credits
100% of your supervisory personnel must achieved at least 15 educational credits before you can take the certification exam. Earning fifteen credits should be fairly easy to complete - the MCAA Foreman Development Class is worth 20 credits alone.

Remember: if you hire or promote someone into a supervisory position before you take the exam, they must complete 15 credits as well before you are eligible to take the exam.

Step Nine: Make Sure Credits Can Be Verified
This is a slight repeat of a previous step but it bears repeating. Once you apply to take the exam and submit your documentation, your credits must be verified. The programs will be reviewed by the Certification Task Group to insure that they comply with the stated requirements and verify that the classes as presented have been successfully completed. Make sure that you have sufficient documentation of all completed programs and earned credits. There will be nothing more frustrating than to have your credits questioned or declined. By providing us accurate records, you will help us in our goal to make your experience a positive one, and allow you to sit for the exam.

Step Ten: Keep Your Books
The certification exam will be an open book exam. Any book you feel you will need to successfully complete the exam will be allowed and you will be able to reference those books during the exam. Cell phone, computers, etc. will not be allowed. Make sure that you have the most recent copy of the masonry code and other relevant publications.

Step Eleven: Apply to Take the Exam
Once you have completed the certification requirements (200 credits including the MQI and a masonry codes course) then you may apply to take the certification exam. The exam will be offered twice per year. Contact the MCAA at 800-536-2225 or visit our website at for a listing of exam dates and locations.

Step Twelve: Review and Study Exam Materials
The more familiar you are with your books and materials, the easier the exam will be. You do not have to memorize everything, but the more familiar you are the easier it will be to find information during the exam. Study between the time you apply and the time you take the exam.

Step Thirteen: Relax
Keep one thing in mind. You are a serious mason contractor, running a quality operation. Odds are that you will do fine on the exam. If you have been dedicated over the years in taking educational classes and continually engaged in keeping up with trends and new ideas, you will do well. Study, review and relax. Even if you don't pass the first time, you will be allowed to retake the exam.

Step Fourteen: Ask When in Doubt
If you have any questions or concerns, contact the Mason Contractors Association of America at 800-536-2225 or visit us online at and we will answer any questions that you may have.

About the Author

he Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is the national trade association representing mason contractors. The MCAA is committed to preserving and promoting the masonry industry by providing continuing education, advocating fair codes and standards, fostering a safe work environment, recruiting future manpower, and marketing the benefits of masonry materials. Visit to learn more.


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