How to Pursue General Licensing & Certifications

Construction & Engineering

Construction Management Certification

Those who want to advance in this direction usually can find programs at universities specializing in construction and at some trade associations, like the Construction Manager Certification Institute.

Most institutions expect students to complete coursework within five years of application. Usually there are no prerequisites other than a bachelor's degree. The certificate is geared toward advancing construction project planners and designers, project engineers, project managers, general construction managers, executive construction managers, construction superintendents, general superintendents and individuals seeking a new career path as construction consultants.

Contractor's License

For those workers who decide to take the plunge into proprietorship and want to obtain a Contractor's License, the State Contractor Licensing Board (SCLB) makes a great starting point. To begin, the applicant must:

  • Determine which license classification / code best applies to the line of service they offer.
  • Sign up for a particular exam date - usually the subject focuses on two areas: trade/ business and law.

After taking these initial steps, the applicant should:

  • Request information on seminars and available prep courses related to the exam. Trade schools and community colleges are a great place to find such services.
  • Apply for the Contractor License through the SCLB after passing the exam. Many states offer same-day scoring for those eager to get the ball rolling.

In most states, exam scores are valid for approximately one year. When the individual applies for the license, they will need to determine a business type or entity - LLC, Corporation, Partnership, etc. Depending on the state, an active Contractor License might need to be renewed (generally every two to three years).

Each State's Contractor Licensing Board usually provides study materials, preparation seminars or information packs for specific exams.

How to Pursue Trade Specific Licensing & Certification

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.

Training needed for the National Masonry Certification

This certificate, one of the most widely-recognized in the field, can be earned through the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). Before applying to take the standard exam, however, the individual must earn certification credits through mason contractor-related courses. Note - those earned through a formal apprenticeship training program are not valid.

While some choose to turn to an outside institution to build credits, the MCAA suggests that the best way to ensure meeting course requirements via those entities in its Approved Provider Network, since these classes deem automatic MCAA endorsement. Better yet, the provider automatically notifies the Association of the candidate's attendance.

Aspiring masons may register for the certification-related courses via the MCAA website, which outlines all approved class offerings and includes scheduling. The mason will receive a registered username, as well as an account that tracks progress and likewise specifies the credits/education needed for certain designations.

Courses focus on everything from the mason industry to running a contractor business. Candidates must collect 100 continuing education credits in six disciplines:

  • Masonry Quality Institute
  • Codes and Standards
  • Ethics and Business Practice
  • Safety
  • Bidding Practices
  • Masonry Products

Once the MCAA approves course completion, candidates may apply to take the certification exam at

More Continuing Education Opportunities for Aspiring Masons

For additional training and education, the following entities offer the latest in mason technology and standards.

  • MV-Tech Online: This online educational resource is a partnership between the International Code Council (ICC), the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and the Masonry Institute of Michigan (MIM). Some of the offerings include bracing above grade masonry, cleaning new masonry and cold weather masonry. Classes generally are less than $50 and can be accessed any time during the week. They are geared for all levels in the field. The site also allows employers to track their workers' completion of these programs.
  • International Masonry Institute (IMI): Located in Annapolis, Md., IMI is an alliance between the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC) providing training and technical assistance in design and construction at the Flynn Center , which features a training and conference center with dorm rooms and classrooms. 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 period. During this time, 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. Once workers wrap up their apprenticeships, they may go on to become an Electrician Journeyman and ultimately, a Master Electrician.

To find out more about apprenticeship opportunities and continuing education, visit:

Earning Electrician License/Certification

The State Licensing Board sometimes offers Code Electrical preparation courses and provides 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 studying prior to taking the exam.

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

Getting a Journeyman Electrician License/Certification

Again, 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.

Getting a 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 forgo 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.

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.

Where to Train for Construction Management/Supervisor Positions
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 60 colleges and universities around the country offer a master's degree program in construction management or construction science.

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.

Continuing Education: Modern Green Building Techniques
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 recertification 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, stormwater control, rainwater collection, conservation and more.

To learn more about green building and to apply for the program, visit Other organizations include: Green Pros, The Green Building Institute, and Green Advantage.


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.

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
This industry organization 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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