The complete guide to construction training: learn which method of learning is right for you.
There are so many ways to learn trade skills, get construction training, and gain education in the construction industry, it can be confusing to know where to start. In this post, we’ll outline the major forms of construction training, so you can determine which is best for you. Whether you’re a high school student looking to skip college and enter straight into the workforce, a student who wants to learn more about the skilled trades and construction industry, or someone who’s already in the construction or trades industry looking to get more training or grow your skills and knowledge, we’ll show you a wide variety of options to get the construction training you need and want. A quick google search will reveal hundreds or thousands of options for construction training and education, so while we obviously can’t list every resource available to you, this will be a broad overview of the various types of training provided and a highlight of a few options you have depending on what your main driver for education is.
Why do you want to learn?
So before we get into it, it’s important to answer the question, “what’s your main need to find construction training?” Are you a student, or brand new to the industry, and looking to learn a career in the trades? Are you in need of certifications to grow in your job or get a raise? Or, are you an employer looking to issue safety or compliance training to your employees? How you answer this question will (in large part) determine what construction training platform you should choose.
Feel free to scroll down to read about all the different types of training, or click the links below to navigate to the type of training your looking for:
- I want to learn in order to grow my skills, knowledge, or business.
- I need continuing education credits.
- I need to take, or issue safety / compliance training.
- I want on-the-job training (or, apprenticeship).
- I need a formal education.
- I want to ask a specific question from pros in the industry.
- I want to publish online training / education.
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“I want to learn in order to grow my skills, knowledge, or business.”
If you’re main driver is knowledge, and you’re not looking for continuing education credits or certifications, there’s a few options we’ll point out to you.
Construct-Ed: Construct-Ed is an online learning platform for the construction and skilled trades industry where anyone can watch, or publish online learning courses. Construct-Ed is a new tech startup, having launched it’s platform on January 2015, and what makes it unique is that it’s an open platform where real experts and educators from any trade in the industry can publish their training or education in the form of online courses, and distribute them to the industry.
So while you won’t find certifications or officially issued credits, you will find real pros from the industry teaching the skills you need to grow your knowledge and your business. And that’s not to say you can’t learn safety (for example, fall safety or crane signal training). All courses are in video form, and remember where you left off, so you can learn at your own pace. What’s more, once you enroll in a course- you own it for life, even if the instructor later comes back and adds more content to it. The courses vary in price depending on what the publishing instructors set them at, ranging from free to $150, with most of them landing in the $15-50 range. In the course library, you can use the course filter sidebar to narrow down by subject (business management, trade skills, marketing, sales & estimating, etc.) and by trade (concrete, flooring, landscaping, and more). Instructors come from every corner of the trades, with perhaps the most recognizable being The International Surface Event, but also featuring popular YouTube educators like Stanley Genadek (of Landscape Business Pro). So if you’re needs are to learn specific skills, or just grow your knowledge or business, and you aren’t necessarily after the certification or official credits, Construct-Ed may be your best bet to learn from real pros in the industry. And while they currently don’t issue CEU’s, each course you complete can be added to your LinkedIn profile with the click of a button.
So whether you want to learn how to design luxury bathrooms from a Beverly Hills designer, how to bid commercial snowplow or mulch jobs, or how to create independence in the field so you can take the tool belt off and run your company, Construct-Ed is a great site to learn from experts in every trade.
ProTrade Craft: ProTrade Craft is another new tech startup where you can learn real skills and knowledge in a short time frame (we didn’t find much content longer than 15 minutes). So it’s a great solution if you’re looking to learn a bit of information in a fast and easy format. ProTrade Craft doesn’t offer full online courses, but rather serves as a sort of online magazine where anyone in the industry can share videos, articles, drawings, specs, and more. You’ll find bits of information from just about every trade you can think of, all published by real tradesman and tradeswomen industry. We like to think of it like YouTube exclusively for construction and trades. Except in addition to videos, you can read information articles, find plans or specs that you need, and more. Like Construct-Ed, they’re an open publication where anyone from the trades can share their knowledge. What’s really cool about ProTrade Craft is its mobile app. You can download it for free, browse by trade, and learn something new in just a few minutes. We recommend browsing ProTrade Craft if you want to learn a short bit of information in a fast and easy tway, or, if you just want to stay up to date and see what new information people are sharing.
US Builder’s Review. US Builder’s Review is a business to business trade journal that works to connect and bring together top executives representing general contractors, custom builders, specialty trades, architects, engineering firms, suppliers, and more. The journals they publish come in online format (think e-books) as well as print, and are designed to provide a platform for sharing information and networking among businesses. So if you’re a business owner or leader in the industry and want to learn about other companies in your industry, or learn from other business leaders, this is a great source for you. You can browse through a large number of their online journals and flip through page by page (digitally, of course).
For students, US Builder’s Review is a great source of information to learn from leading businesses in the industry and sort of survey the landscape of what’s out there in the working world. Business owners, you can use their online publications and articles to learn from other leaders – what they’re doing, what they aren’t, and seeing what you can glean for your own business. Browse by industry, and start learning today.
Construction Dive: Construction Dive is an online news site for the construction industry. Their self-proclaimed mission is to provide busy professionals like you with a bird’s-eye-view of the construction industry in 60 seconds. In addition to providing an events calendar and job board, their editorial team is writing new news stories daily. Like US Builder’s Review, while you won’t find explicit construction training on their site, you can quickly and easily learn what’s trending in your industry at any time. Their newsletter is daily delivered to your inbox, and allows you to scroll down and see at a glance a quick summary of trending news or updates. It’s a great resource for students, workers in the industry, or business owners to survey their industry and see what’s going on. Learn about your competitors, about the latest technology and apps in the industry, and more.
“I need continuing education credits.”
If your main desire to get training is because you need continuing education credits, you’re in luck. Because, like you probably already know, there are about 1,000,000,000,000 companies and associations offering you the education you need. Each is going to depend on the trade you’re in, and your own individual desires or needs, but probably the fastest method to finding what you need is a simple google search. A simple search for “contractor continuing education,” or “construction continuing education,” will yield more results than you’ll know what to do with. That being said, we’ll highlight a few options for you here:
Expos: Construction and trades expos aren’t just great places to see all the newest technology, equipment, and tools, they’re great places to learn and get your continuing ed credits, depending on the show you attend. If you thought going to expos was just about snatching up as much free stuff as you can (I mean, who doesn’t love all those tiny hard candies and key chains?) and networking – think again. Many Expos offer extensive education programs where you can get your CE credits AND your free pens. Here’s a few Expos we’ve been to, that work to bring in real pros and educators to help you grow your knowledge, skills, and get the continuing education credits you need:
TISE (The International Surface Event) – TISE teams up with educators and associations to bring you loads of educational sessions. Their new “Ignite” program aims to equip those in the industry with real skills to grow their business, as well as provide them with continuing ed credits with AIA, IDCEC, ASID, IDC, IIDA, NKBA, AIBD, and/or IICRC. If you don’t need the continuing ed credits, you can find many of their sessions on Construct-Ed.com.
Remodeling Show and Deck Expo – If you’re a builder, re-modeler, contractor, or deck builder- check out Remodeling Show and Deck Expo. In addition to bringing together educators, live demos, and vendors from the industry- they provide classroom training where you can earn NAHB credit, NADRA Continuing Ed, AIA learning units, and NARI continuing education.
JLC Live – JLC LIVE New England offers four days of educational conference programming featuring sessions on business, construction techniques, sales and marketing, technology and production. Instructors are industry leaders who run very successful businesses, write for trade magazines and who provide valuable and practical information that can be implemented immediately. Through their education sessions you can earn continuing education credits with the following organizations: AIBD, CSL, NAHB, and NARI.
International Roofing Expo– Specifically geared towards those involved in the development, management and direction of the commercial and residential roofing industry, this conference provides topics at the forefront of the industry, providing you with the necessary tools you need to succeed. Continuing ed credits are provided for most sessions, and include DBPR, and RCI.
World of Concrete – From interactive workshops and specialized seminars to hands-on skill-building sessions, World of Concrete’s world-class education program equips field personnel, project leaders, supervisors and owners with the latest knowledge in every facet of the professional concrete business. Learn new skills and techniques, find ways to operate more efficiently, earn professional certifications and improve yourself and your business. They offer continuing education credits from AIA, CES, PDH, Mason Contractor’s Association of America, Tilt-Up Concrete Association, and ACI certification.
Red Vector: Red Vector has been a leader in the online construction training space for a long time, and provides training for individuals and companies for a wide variety of trades. Over half their online courses have been awarded approvals and accreditation, so you can easily find the continuing education credits you or your company are looking for. They also offer corporate training if you’re a larger size businesses looking to train your in-house team.
Hanley Wood University: Hanley Wood University provides hundreds of continuing education courses for Architects, Builders, Designers, and more. Courses are created by leading industry content specialists, and provide credits for the following organizations: AIA, AIA/HSW, ASLA, GBCI, IDCEC, NAHB, NARI and NKBA. It’s a great place to earn CEU credits – all year long, any time.
“I need to take, or issue safety / compliance training.”
At some point, almost everyone in the construction and skilled trades industries needs to go through some sort of safety and compliance training. If you’re an employer looking to train your employees on OSHA standards, take OSHA 10 or 30 hour courses, or if you need a wide variety of safety training, most all of it can be done efficiently online.
Click Safety Training: If (or should we say, “when”) you need to get safety training, or issue it to your employees, Click Safety Training is a great resource. ClickSafety’s online learning management, compliance and documentation solutions help companies execute their training objectives and build world-class safety cultures. They are an authorized provider of continuing educational credits from IACET, and you can get everything from your OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 cards, to HAZWOPER, Asbestos, Lead, and Mold safety, to corporate training solutions, and more. If compliance or safety is your need, check this company out.
OSHA.com: Not affiliated with the government agency, OSHA.com is an online provider of safety courses. OSHA.com features a comprehensive online library featuring 40 construction safety training courses for construction workers and contractors. They help you standardize all of your compliance training needs without sacrificing valuable time and money. All courses will come with a printable certificate upon successful completion.
“I want on-the-job construction training (or, apprenticeship).”
If you answered that your main need for construction training and education is “on the job training,” then you should look for work places with apprenticeship or in-house training programs. You might be a student looking to enter the skilled trades, just beginning your career. Or you might be in the trades already and wanting to change companies or career paths. Either way, if this is you- be sure to ask companies that you interview what they’re training program is like, how they handle training new employees, and what opportunity for advancement there is.
Smaller companies may not have put much thought, energy, or resources into a hands on apprenticeship or construction training program, and might expect you to learn as you go, without much formal on-the-job training. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it doesn’t mean that you absolutely shouldn’t work there, but you should know what to expect going into the job. On the flip side, big, commercial companies may treat you like another number. And while they provide you with in-house training, and often have extensive education programs, you still need to make sure that there is room for advancement and that you’ll be able to learn everything you need.
“I need a formal education.”
If you’re a student who has decided that college isn’t for you, but you’d still like some formalized construction training and education before entering into the construction or skilled trades industries, then choosing an educational or construction training institution might be the perfect thing for you. This would include trade colleges, vo-tech schools, or other specialized construction or trades schools. The advantage here is that you’re able to learn from educators who are experts in their trade, and you won’t have the pressure that comes with having to learn on the job.
Of course, this does mean more homework, tests, and grading than you’d find in the workforce, but you’ll also likely feel a lot more prepared to enter in to a career after some focused training and education. Educational institutions for the trades will usually teach you more than just the raw skills: you’ll learn the theory (=“why” things are done a certain way), and depending on the institution, you’ll learn business management skills and other practical skills to help you either start your own company or join an existing one. Some even offer help finding a job upon graduation. Since there are too many to list, and you’ll have to search for a school locally to where you are, here’s a few that we’ll highlight as examples:
Williamson College of the Trades: Of all the trade schools out there, Williamson might be one of the most unique and distinguished. Williamson is a boys-only trade college where accepted students can study carpentry, masonry, horticulture, machine tool technology, paint and coatings, and power plant. Isaiah Vansant Williamson, a Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, founded the school in 1888 with an aim to provide financially disadvantaged young men with the opportunity to become productive and respected members of society. In his own words, “It was seeing boys, ragged and barefooted, lounging on the streets, growing up with no education, no idea of usefulness, that caused me to think of founding a school where every boy could be taught some trade free of expense.” All accepted students get free education, and are responsible only for the purchase of tools and books.
Trade Schools.net: Trade Schools.net, while not being an educator themselves, is a great resource for anyone looking to find a construction or skilled trades training institution. Students can search by state, or by trade program, and find listed schools near them. If you’re unsure of what educational institutions are located near you, be sure to check out their website.
NCCER: If you’re a student looking into a formal education in construction or skilled trades, you can look into The National Center for Construction Education and Research. It was developed by more than 125 construction CEOs and various association and academic leaders with the goal of developing a safe and productive workforce. NCCER is like an online university for trade skills, and allows you to train online as well as purchase hands-on curriculum for study. Their process includes accreditation, instructor certification, standardized curriculum, registry, assessment and certification. So if you’re a student looking for formal, certified trade-skill education online, be sure to check them out.
“I want to ask a specific question from pros in the industry.”
Sometimes, you just have a simple question, or need some advice from other seasoned pros. If that’s the case, you might look into trade forums. While not being construction training sites specifically, they can be really helpful solutions in that they allow real people in the industry to communicate, get help, ask questions, and offer advice. While each trade or industry has a number of forums available that you can simply google to find, here’s a couple we’d like to highlight:
Contractor Talk: Contractor Talk is an online forum where you can ask or answer a question on just about any trade: from architecture, carpentry, landscaping, design and drywall, to electrical, plumbing, and more. They are one of the largest trade forums you’ll find, and also include a section on product reviews and projects.
Roofer’s Coffee Shop: obviously geared towards “roofing and roofers,” this forum is passionate about all things roofing. It’s a great example of a “trade specific” forum, which can sometimes be more helpful in finding the answer you need because you’re only interacting with those in the same industry as you. As a bonus, RCS features a classifides section, as well as an online learning hub powered by Construct-Ed.
“I want to publish online training / education.”
We thought we’d include this option because inevitably some of you reading this article aren’t necessarily looking for construction training or trades education- you want to publish your own. You might be part of a trade association who wants to offer online education to your members and reach a wider audience. You might be a trade school looking to publish online courses for your students. Or maybe you’re an educator or trainer in the industry who wants to offer on-demand online learning for your customer base and attempt to reach more customers. Either way, online learning only continues to grow in the construction industry, so we thought we’d show you one last option when it comes to publishing online training and offering e-learning to your audience.
Construct-Ed: Call us biased, but we think Construct-Ed is probably the best solution out there for you if you’re looking to offer online learning courses to your audience or reach an audience outside your network. Here’s why:
- Fast and easy: You send in your videos, along with any documents, handouts, quizzing, or custom certifications you want to give, and Construct-Ed will build the online course for you- free of charge.
- Free: Did we mention it’s free to publish your courses? Building your own online platform, no matter which service you use- costs time and money. SEO, hosting, customer support- that’s all taken care of at Construct-Ed.
- Reach a wider audience: After Construct-Ed builds your online course, they’ll publish it in their ever-growing course library where it can be seen by an audience world-wide and will be made searchable by subject and trade.
- Monetize it: Put your training or education on YouTube, and you’ll need thousands and thousands of views to make any money at all. When you publish with Construct-Ed, set a price to your course, and earn a profit % from each course sold.
- Or give it free: Want to share your education for free? Just say so.
- No support, hosting, or e-commerce headaches: All taken care of by Construct-Ed.