Scientia potentia est – “knowledge is power.”
We have a saying in our home that if you’re not actively trying to learn new things, you’re falling behind. In fact, all six members of our household are engaging in some sort of educational endeavor: I’m teaching a journalism course at the local university, my engineer husband is working toward his computer programming degree, my stepdaughter attends the local community college, my stepson is taking free courses on Udemy.com, and my 12-year-old son is... well, he’s 12. He researches the Revolutionary War for fun, though.
Even my 68-year-old mother-in-law is planning on taking a computer course this spring at the local senior community center. She says she realizes fearing technology and refusing to adapt to it has severely limited her job prospects.
Change is scary, no doubt. But it’s inevitable, especially in this industry and especially when it comes to technology. Many new water heaters, pumps, boilers and even toilets are now Wi-Fi-enabled and programmable (as you can see in this month’s smart bathrooms feature on page 52), and onboard diagnostics are well on their way to becoming standard on the appliances plumbers deal with on a regular basis.
So, what are you doing to make sure you don’t fall behind?
It goes without saying you are already a step ahead because you read trade publications. These are valuable sources for product news, industry happenings and technical articles. PM also offers free webinars on topics ranging from industry outlooks to much more technical topics. PM also offers directories that help connect you with other industry resources.
But there are many, many other resources available to you to help keep you on the forefront of industry changes. In fact, once you start looking, you’ll find the number of continuing education opportunities that exist for tradespeople is almost overwhelming.
Many of these opportunities are available through the educational arms of industry organizations such as PHCC, MCAA, ASHRAE, the UA and many others. In recent months, PM has run two stories about the Online Piping and Usage Specification (OPUS) resource from MCAA; it is a publicly available, in-depth resource accessible to anyone who wants to know more about the topic.
Manufacturers and distributors also offer training on OEM equipment, both in person and online, and trade schools offer opportunities for continuing education. And, of course, trade shows offer the chance to see and experience the latest plumbing-related products and technologies while encouraging networking and industry collaboration.
Some educational opportunities are free, but others may require a monetary investment. They will also require an investment of your time, but more often than not, it will be more than worth it.
Learning does not have to be limited to your career, either. This month, I’ll be taking a one-day intensive photography course that will show us how to use many of the features on our DSLR cameras. This will help me produce better photos and videos for the magazine, but it is also a hobby of mine I hope to pursue more this summer on camping/hiking trips.
By nurturing your instinct to keep learning throughout your life, even after you’ve settled into a career, you are ensuring you will never cease to grow personally and professionally.