CPI Plumbing and Heating’s Apprenticeship Program Provides Launching Pad to Great Careers

CPI Plumbing & Heating is a trusted provider of quality repair, installation and maintenance services.

They serve clients in Whatcom, Skagit, Iceland and northern Snohomish Counties and are now offering another service to improve the quality of their company and their industry: a training program.

CPI Plumbing Vernon-based training facility provides trainees with ample opportunity to learn skills that can help them tackle any real-world field situation. Photo courtesy of CPI Plumbing & Heating

The 12-month program provides accepted trainees with paid, discounted full-time employment at CPI as they learn the pros and cons of plumbing and HVAC and ultimately test and earn their Washington State Residential Specialty Plumbing License.

Monica Craig, director of marketing for CPI, says the idea for the program started in 2019 when Brad Tully and Oly Olsen took over the company. Tully planned to build a training facility that would complement further corporate training investments.

By the end of 2019, with a fully developed curriculum and in-house training facility at their Mount Vernon warehouse, those ideas had become a reality. The training is led by Steve Murray, CPI’s director of HVAC. He has 37 years of industry experience, has been a licensed plumber for more than 30 years, a certified professional trainer for more than 20 years and a licensed 06A specialist electrician and electrical administrator for more than 20 years.

CPI’s training program includes written tests, personal assessments, and even virtual reality training. Photo courtesy of CPI Plumbing & Heating

Murray is also a member of the CITC Mechanical Trades Apprenticeship Council, CEU instructor for online and live courses, and has developed more than two dozen courses for Washington state, Oregon, Florida and several other states.

According to Craig, creating an in-house training program is especially important at a time when many trades require high quality technicians.

“Our trade comes in roughly one person for every four people who retire,” she says. “Our ability to do work and grow as a company is really difficult when you don’t have people interested in your craft.”

screws and nuts

The opening class of the new apprenticeship started in October with four students on a plumber’s train. A second sanitary class starts in January. Open enrollment ends shortly before Christmas. HVAC-related training is scheduled for mid-2021 and there is no limit on class size.

The path to a rewarding career in plumbing or HVAC begins with a paid apprenticeship at CPI Plumbing. The apprenticeships offer a lot of practical experience in their training laboratory. Photo courtesy of CPI Plumbing & Heating

Anyone mechanically inclined to learn about plumbing or HVAC is encouraged to apply, says Craig. The aim is to develop new technicians from the ground up, which is why the program even takes into account basic skills such as the correct use of hand tools. This can be especially important for trainees straight out of high school or otherwise with no prior knowledge.

All the knowledge an apprentice needs to eventually obtain his state license to install residential buildings is covered in the training. Washington State requires 6,000 hours of experience to obtain the license, which is capped at 2,000 hours per year. At the end of the apprenticeship, the trainee will move on to the next steps in their career and work towards their own work truck.

You will learn a lot from Murray in the first eight weeks of training, and then oversee technicians and ridesharing observations. Overall, the curriculum consists of a combination of written tests and homework, as well as numerous practical assessments in the CPI training laboratory. Craig says they used as much virtual training as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic, but hopes to maximize personal training again as soon as possible in 2021.

The training laboratory is fully equipped and prepared for a variety of situations a technician may face, including worst-case scenarios. This type of preparation ensures that technicians are adequately prepared for anything they may encounter in the field.

The apprenticeship program is led by Steve Murray (left), CPI’s director of HVAC and one of only 50 state-certified apprentices in Washington who are fully licensed in both the plumbing and HVAC industries. Photo courtesy of CPI Plumbing & Heating

Most of the things our trainees would see in the real world can be created in our training lab and then fixed by them, ”says Craig.

During each week of their apprenticeship, volunteer training is offered on weekday mornings for anyone who wants additional reinforcement and learning. According to Craig, the company has high expectations for its trainees, which is clearly reflected in the work they are already providing to their clients.

In a world where it can be difficult to find quality, well-paying jobs with plenty of room for professional and personal growth, a CPI education program could be a person’s first step towards a great career and life.

“You learn and get paid to build your career,” says Craig. “There aren’t many industries that offer that.”

Would you like to apply for the CPI training program? Please visit the website at www.cpiplumbing.com/careers to find out more.


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