Michigan’s Skilled Trades Crisis

Plumbers, electricians, pipefitters, roofers, carpenters, ironworkers, glaziers and other skilled tradespeople are in high demand and short supply in Michigan. Shortages of unskilled workers are also on the rise.


Michigan isn’t the only state affected by a lack of skilled trades workers. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to fill vacant skilled labor positions throughout the entire United States.


A large part of the workforce problem stems from negative perceptions. Young people tend to view these professions as arduous and lacking opportunity for advancement.  High school students are encouraged to forego shop class in exchange for computer science and information technology. The elimination of vocational training in high school has played a major part in the reduction of skilled trades workers everywhere.


Help is on the horizon as Governor Rick Snyders “Marshall Plan for Talent” was announced in February 2018.  His plan is to spend more than $100 million over five years to reconstruct the way Michigan prepares its young people for the workforce.  Funding assistance programs are available through various agencies as Michigan Works, Veterans Administration, and American Indian Tribes. The Builders License Training Institute (a division of Certified Training Institute) is currently offering a nationwide scholarship program for Students and Veterans interested in becoming licensed in the building trades.


There are thousands of job openings across various industries just waiting to be filled. Such trades can prove to be quite lucrative with a median wage of more than $20 per hour.  The demand for workers continues to rise, older tradesmen are reaching retirement. If you’re looking for a long-term career, you might want to consider becoming skilled in one or two of the aforementioned trades.  If you are already established as a tradesperson, encourage the young men and women you know to become licensed. Certified Training Institute offers online Exam Prep for a variety of trades, including Michigan Plumbers and Builders. Whether you want to become licensed or maintain your license, you’ll find it on their website.


Nevada NASCLA (Commercial) General Contractor License

How do I get a NASCLA (Commercial) General Contractor license in Nevada?

When you pass the NASCLA Accredited Examination for Commercial General Building Contractors, you will be listed in the NASCLA National Examination Database. You will then have this information available for the following states which accept the NASCLA Accredited Examination: AL, AR, GA, LA, MS, NV, NC, OR, SC, TN, UT, US Virgin Islands, VA, and WV. You may also need to take each states’ specific business/law/project management exam in addition to the NASCLA exam.

Do I need prior approval to sit for the NASCLA exam?

Yes. This program requires pre-approval before sitting for the exam. An application must be filed with and approved by NASCLA. Once the application is approved, NASCLA will forward the information to PSI who will send a confirmation for exam registration. To apply to take the exam visit: www.nascla.org or contact them by phone at (623) 587-9354.

How long can I wait to take the exam after getting approval?

Candidates will have one (1) year from the application approval date to take the exam.

Do I need to pass a separate Business and Law or Trades Examination?

Yes, there are separate Business and Law (Construction Management Survey) and Trade exams.  Even if you take the NASCLA-Accredited exam, you DO have to take a separate Business and Law (Construction Management Survey) and Trade Exam for Nevada.

Where can I find a NASCLA Exam Prep course?

Certified Training Institute offers an online narrated course that has been approved by the State of Nevada to get your NASCLA license. This course can be completed online at your convenience and on any device that is connected to the internet. We also have a dedicated staff to answer your questions and help with tech support. Visit our website at www.licensetobuild.com



NASCLA (Commercial) General Contractor Exam Prep Course



Is Wintertime Building More Expensive?

It used to be said, “If you can’t get the roof on by the first snowfall, wait until spring”, but not anymore. There are now many new products and technologies that allow builders to work all year long. New expanded lighting systems compensate for the shorter daylight hours. Portable heaters and lighter, warmer clothing allows builders to move easier in colder temperatures. But be prepared to get out your wallet. Staying warm can be expensive.

One advantage may be that you get faster service because builders aren’t as busy, but the disadvantages can add up:

Snow Removal – Find a reputable company that will keep the construction job site and all accesses clear so your crew can keep going and your materials can be delivered.  It may cost a few more dollars for reliability but you will be glad you did it. Be sure you build additional time for snowstorms into your time estimates.

Heating Expenses – Temporary heaters are not only expensive to buy, but expensive to run.  And you not only need to keep your crew warm, but some of the building materials also need more care.  Shingles turn brittle and become hard to handle in the cold, plus they may not seal as well. Ground heaters and blankets may be necessary for concrete work.

Lighting Expense – Shorter daylight hours either cut building time from the workday or require the expense of additional lighting.

In times when the country is leaner, these additional costs can be offset by reduced labor expenses because skilled workmen may not be as busy and can be more easily obtained. Also, building materials are very often less expensive in low demand times like the winter. However, these are things you can’t always count on, so…

… be sure to build additional wintertime expenses and time into your bid. They can add up, dramatically biting into the profit margin. And you don’t want to have to go back to your client asking for more money to cover the added costs. For more tips to think about when building your construction bids, consider taking an online course on Construction Estimating and Bidding.

The wintertime is also a great time to get your builders or contractors license continued education out of the way. There are bound to be a snow day or two throughout the season, so having online courses ready and waiting for those times when you need something to do is a prudent move.


Michigan is Cracking Down on Real Estate Wannabes


If you’re out there selling real estate without a license, the State of Michigan is coming after you! The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is partnering with Attorney General Bill Schuette to ramp up efforts to hold unlicensed real estate practitioners accountable.

There has been a rise in unlicensed real estate activity

For the past several months, Michigan Realtors ® has been heading up discussions with both LARA and the Attorney General to promote an initiative to deal with this increase.  They are taking a strong stance to keep consumers safe by promoting the Consumer Complaint/Inquiry System making it easy for individuals to file complaints online via a Consumer Complaint Online Form or by calling a Toll Free Consumer Hotline (877-765-8388).

Please be aware when filing a complaint or inquiry that they become public records when submitted to the Attorney General’s office and they may be subject to disclosure to anyone who asks for them.  For complete rules on filing complaints and inquiries, along with a mail-in complaint/inquiry form, CLICK HERE.

For those who would like to get licensed, the Real Estate Training Institute is a great source for taking the State Approved salesperson prelicensure education, as well as broker prelicensure and real estate continued education for real estate professionals who are already licensed.



4 Common Errors in Construction Estimating


4 Common Errors in Construction Estimating and Their Solutions.
by: Josh Francis Instructor/Product Manager at Certified Training Institute


Construction estimating and bidding is one of, if not the, most important factors for contractors to consider when taking on a new project. As a contractor we are constantly playing the balancing act when estimating and bidding jobs. Here are a few of the most common errors in estimating, and ways to make sure you win the work while staying profitable.


1)      Estimating Labor Costs: Since labor is not based on a fixed rate, it is more difficult to estimate than the cost of materials and subs. Many contractors take a SWAG (Scientific Wild-Ass Guess) of how many days it will take their crew to do the work. I know contractors who make a good profit doing this, but the method is just as likely to produce a loss. A better way to estimate labor costs is to develop productivity rates for work your crew performs. I know what you are thinking, “time card data is impossible to measure because no two days are alike for a carpenter”. Check out this simple method for Developing Labor Productivity Rates by Bob Kovacs.


2)      Improperly Priced Materials and Supplies: Making sure that the project’s materials and supplies are correctly described as to kind, quality, size, and dimensions is extremely important for estimating effectively. There are three main ways contractors protect themselves from this pit-fall.

  • Working cost plus: meaning the customer pays the cost of materials and labor, plus a fixed amount or a percentage of the cost as profit.
  • Padding the estimate: this may work, but it can lead to higher bids and a loss of jobs.
  • Or you can do a real-time analysis of material costs before turning in your bid, and build an escalation clause.


An escalation clause in your contract simply states that if certain things happen and the cost of materials or labor go up, you as the contractor will not be stuck and the customer will be responsible. What goes into that clause is up to you, but for some good information visit Managing Material Costs with an Escalation Clause by Quenda Behler Story.


3)      Failure to use a checklist: Overlooking items when doing an estimate, or omitting items that are considered minor can kill a profitable job. MAKE A CHECKLIST! I cannot say it enough. It does not have to be a spreadsheet (though a spreadsheet can simplify the process), but just a simple checklist that you work through on every job will help you stay organized and remember those detail items throughout the project from breaking ground to finishing work.


4)      Failure to review building codes, permits, and inspections: Cost estimates and bids on construction projects are subject to local, state, and federal building codes, permits, and inspections. A great way to make sure you are including all of these factors into your bid is by contacting your local building official. Code can be interpreted in different ways depending on the official, so discussing the job in detail (especially if you are working in a new jurisdiction) can really help you estimate time and cost before you turn in your bid.


For more information on construction estimating and bidding go to Certified Training Institute. There are great courses on Estimating and Bidding for Success.