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Back to School For Contractors

September 5, 2017

As all the kids from preschool to college head back to school, have you considered it might be time for you to return to the classroom? Contractors have various continuing education requirements based on their type of license and licensing state. Beyond the fact that it’s required, education can help you and your crews stay current in the field, and it can give you management tools for running your business.

Education Opportunities for Owners

In many states, general contractors have to become licensed at the local level, not the state level. This is different than electricians, plumbers, HVAC contractors and roofers who are licensed by states. These groups typically have to get 6 to 8 CEUs (continuing education units) every 36 months (depending on the license) for renewal. Of course there are exceptions, like in Minnesota where you need a contractor license and must complete 14 hours of continuing education to renew a license.

Continuing education does not have to be burdensome because you can pick courses that appeal to you. CEUs can easily be obtained online, or you might receive invitations to local events from trade groups, associations and municipalities. If you want to dive deeper into education, national associations and tradeshows are a great place to start.

The American Wall & Ceiling Industry’s Annual Convention & INTEX Expo covers drywall, ceilings and acoustics, lath and metal framing, plaster, EIFS, insulation, software and more. It takes place in March in Orlando, Florida. While there are costs with travel, the expenses are tax deductible and the opportunities can advance your company.

Not only will you learn about the latest tools and products, you also will meet associates and make connections. We find actually getting in front of different people a few times per year provides learning opportunities from a manufacturing standpoint. We also like to sit down with contractors like you at tradeshows so we can talk about installations and problem solve together.

Education Opportunities For Your Crews

INTEX and other trade shows provide quality education tracks that are typically organized by job type—contractor, installer, owner, architect or other positions. This ensures you are making good use of your time and attending classes designed for you.

Traveling with your team may be out of the question, so remember that one of the best places to learn is on the job. Consider setting up a mentor program and bringing in the experts. You might have someone on your crew who is simply good at everything, or a couple of people who are experts in one particular area. Use your team’s existing skills to train your new employees and to keep the skills of your other team members fresh.

If you are having a problem with a particular product or material, call the company and see if they can send someone to your job site. We have sales representatives all over the country, and they would be happy to meet with you and give demonstrations. Some manufacturers do lunch and learn programs—you eat while they talk and then participate in some hands-on learning opportunities. These classes bring education to your crews, instead of sending them out to find a class (which may not happen).

Learning never stops in the field or in the office. There always are new tricks to learn, new products or materials to try and new ways to solve a problem. Seek out learning opportunities for you and your crew that go beyond CEUs. Your customers might just notice the difference in your approach to their project and bring you back for more.

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