NTCA University Update – October 2016

bb-university-logoAre you considering the apprenticeship program?

As we continue to develop courses for the finisher apprenticeship program, I wanted to address some questions that contractors have had. If you are considering a program of your own, hopefully the following information will be useful for you.

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

Q: Do I have to have a Department of Labor (DOL) approved apprenticeship program?

A: No, this is your program to use as you wish. You can register it with the DOL if you wish or you can use the online courses to supplement training for your new hires and their on-the-job learning.

Q: If I have a DOL approved program, does the online learning take the place of the classroom learning?

A: With a DOL-approved apprenticeship program, you are required to have 144 hours of classroom training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job practical work each year. The first six months of online learning will make up approximately 10 hours of the classroom training, so you will still need to have classes with your apprentices. Some members are requiring their apprentices to take courses before the classroom training, while others are using it as a follow-up to make sure they retained what was learned in the classroom. Either way is acceptable since it is YOUR program. While we would be willing to offer suggestions, the NTCA has only developed the supplemental learning materials for you to implement as you see best for your company.

Q: Do I need to sign up each of my apprentices or can I just buy one program for everyone to view?

A: This again is your decision. If you have a DOL program then you may want to consider each individual being registered since there are tests at the end of each module. You can then use this information to track how well each individual is doing, and you can document that they have completed the course and the time it took them to complete each module. Or you can gather everyone in a group setting and view the course, then take the quiz together. Some contractors are even using these courses as part of the evaluation of each apprentice when they do performance reviews.

Q: Do I need computers in the office for the apprentices to take the courses?

A: No. As long as they can log into their NTCA account, they will be able to access NTCA University from any computer, tablet, or phone so they don’t need to be in the office to learn. As long as they have internet access, they can take modules.

Visit the NTCA store at www.tile-assn.com to see the current listing of courses. If there is a course that you would like to see or if you are unsure of the types of courses available, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or call me at 770-366-2566.


NTCA University Update – September 2016

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

NTCA_UniversityNew pricing structure for NTCA members and non-members

Thank you to everyone who has been providing feedback on NTCA University. Based on that feedback, we decided to make some changes to the pricing structure of the University. We are offering introductory pricing that will include everything in the University, including the Apprenticeship Program. As we continue to develop content and build NTCA University into a premier site, we wanted to offer this pricing so that you can begin to explore and learn.

  • Contractor Members: $99 per company
  • Associate/Affiliated Members: $199 per company
  • Non-NTCA Members: $499 per company
  • All subscriptions expire on December 31, 2017*

Please make sure that your NTCA company profile information is correct, up to date, and includes names and e-mail address of all of your employees that you would like to include on your NTCA University subscription. We will then use this list from your profile to provide your employees access to the University courses.

With your subscription, you are able to watch and learn from any courses within the University, as many times as you want during your subscription. And as more courses are added in the University, you will have access to them, too.

uni-01As long as you are able to log into your NTCA account, you will be able to access NTCA University from any computer, tablet, or phone so you don’t need to be in the office to learn. If you want to take a course at home on your couch or while on vacation sitting at the beach, as long as you have Internet access, you can learn.

Visit the NTCA store at https://tile-assn.site-ym.com/store/default.aspx? to purchase your NTCA University subscription. Please note that if you are purchasing the subscription for your company, the primary NTCA contact for the company must be the account from which the purchase is made. We will then work with the primary contact to establish all the correct contact information for employees who will be enrolled in the University.

*If you purchase the all access subscription on the member pricing, in order to maintain your access to the site until December 31, 2017, you must also keep your membership active through 2017.

If there is a course that you would like to see available or if you are unsure of the types of courses available, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or call me at 770-366-2566.

NTCA University Update – August 2016

NTCA_UniversityFinisher Apprentice, Sales and Installation curricula offer basics in how to use/install sustainable products

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator

I realize that this issue is all about green products and sustainability. While we don’t have courses dedicated to these subjects right now, there are plenty of courses teaching people why these products are used and how to install green/sustainable products. There are two different avenues of curricula  that could be viewed depending on your role in the company. These are Finisher Apprentice curriculum and Sales and Installation curriculum.

The Finisher Apprenticeship curriculum currently has the first six months available for purchase. This curriculum is for anyone that is new to the job who will be working on residential, commercial, or remodel construction sites with others to install tile. Since the first six months of this person’s career will be learning about many new products that they have not seen before as well as assisting others, these courses cover many different topics from safety, to introduction to products or tools seen on the job and how to use these tools, to how to install different types of grout. The idea behind these courses is that they can either be used on their own with on-the-job training to educate the apprentice, or in conjunction with classroom and on-the-job learning if the company has a Department of Labor-approved apprentice program.

The Sales and Installation curriculum is for people who are new to the industry but may work in a showroom, or for a manufacturer who is not actually installing products. It also is perfect for those who have been in the industry for a while and are looking for continuing education. While we have been focusing on the introductory courses, we will eventually have more advanced courses available to view either individually or in monthly continuing education courses. The current courses include introduction to waterproof membranes, primers, crack isolation membranes, mortars, grouts, sealants, and the history of tile.

The NTCA office has started to receive questions about the courses that are appropriate for your employees to take or to discuss during a group meeting. If you are at this point, please get in touch with me so that we can discuss your needs. Each company is different and may require courses to be developed based on their level of experience.

Visit the NTCA store to see courses that are currently available. If there is a course that you would like to see offered or if you are unsure of the types of courses available, please send me an e-mail at [email protected] or call me at 770-366-2566.

NTCA University Update: Incremental Learning in Four Courses

may-beckyby Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

As we created more modules for the Apprenticeship Program, we realized it was time to start making the program more usable for our members. Once the two-year Finisher Apprentice Curriculum is complete, there will be four courses available to purchase.

  • AF1-6MT – Finisher Orientation – 0 – 6 Months
  • AF1-6MT1 – Finisher Task – 6 – 12 Months
  • AF1-6MT2 – Finisher Skill – 12 – 18 Months
  • AF1-6MT3 – Finisher Management – 18 – 24 Months

Each of these courses will contain modules. For example, the 0 – 6 months course has the most modules, at over 40 available. These modules can be used to supplement on-the-job learning and classroom/practical learning. While we have set the modules up in a specific order, depending on your company’s focus or type of work, your apprentice can take the modules in an order that makes more sense for your business. The Finisher Orientation – 0 – 6 month course is currently available for purchase on the NTCA store and as we continue to develop new modules, other courses will be added. Access the store at www.tile-assn.com, and click on the NTCA Store link.

Each of these four separate courses focuses on different learning levels at each six-month increment. And towards the end of each of these courses there is a lengthy test that will check your apprentice’s knowledge. You can then use the results of the exam to help assess their progress. Unfortunately, there may be times when you and your apprentice have to go separate ways. While you will have invested time and effort, if you are still in the first-course level, you won’t have invested a lot of money in training materials.

Don’t forget, there are other courses available beyond the Apprenticeship Program. We continue to add new Business courses to help small business owners who do not have the training or skills to run a business, gain some knowledge in subjects such as accounting, finance, human resources, or marketing. Also there are Continuing Education courses such as those that are given to architects and designers. And we have added Sales and Installation courses for those who may be new to the industry or need a refresher on a particular topic.

Visit the NTCA store to see courses that are currently available. If there is a course that you would like to see developed, please send me a quick e-mail at [email protected] so that we can prioritize our members’ needs.

Color-Coded Logos Create Clarity For NTCA University Programs

By Becky Serbin,  Training and Education Coordinator

By Becky Serbin,
Training and Education Coordinator

NTCA_UniversityIf you have visited either the NTCA Online Store or been on the NTCA University site recently at www.tile-assn.com, you will notice that we have changed the logos for each of the course types. We realized quickly that it was very difficult to differentiate all of the course types at a quick glance since each had a very similar logo. While these may eventually change in the future, for now we changed the background on each of the course types so that you can quickly find the courses available in your category.

june-uni-01The Apprenticeship Program now has a yellow burst in the logo. These courses currently include the Finisher Apprenticeship Program. Once complete, these courses will be available in six-month increments: orientation, task, skill, and finally management and tile helper courses. For example, there are approximately 40 modules that make up the orientation courses so instead of listing all 40 classes separately, they will be available as one purchase through the NTCA Online Store.

june-uni-02Appropriately so, we chose the color green for our Business Courses. These courses range from accounting basics to Internet marketing to negotiation skills to hiring strategies to workplace diversity. There are many more courses that will be added over time to help a business owner run a successful business.

june-uni-03The Continuing Education courses now have a purple burst in the logo. The courses are AIA and IDCEC accredited for architects and designers. But that does not mean that these courses are only for their use. These courses should be viewed by individuals looking to educate their staff on topics such as backer boards, large-format tile, or water management.

june-uni-04Installation & Sales represents the newest category of courses, and this category has an orange burst in the logo. We realize that many of our members need courses for new hires or training personnel who aren’t tile finishers or setters, or who may need a refresher course or curriculum to address new technology. All of these topics fit under Installations & Sales training. While many of these courses will initially be similar to some of the apprenticeship courses, over time we will be adding courses that do not fall into the apprenticeship category.

Instead of scrolling through the whole store, you can now quickly glance through looking for the color logo that you are interested in viewing. Visit the NTCA Online Store to see courses that are currently available. If there is a course that you would like to see available, please send me a quick e-mail at [email protected] so that we can begin to prioritize our members’ needs.

Schluter Innovation Workshop: Albuquerque June 15 & 16

Schluter Systems L.P. will hold an Innovation Workshop: Part 1 on Wednesday and Thursday, June 15 and 16 at the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid North, 5151 San Francisco Road, Albuquerque, N.M.

The two-day workshop contains both classroom and hands-on instruction. Learn how to prevent tiles from cracking with Schluter-DITRA, protect tile edges with Schluter profiles, provide effective moisture management with Schluter-KERDI and more.

The program runs from 8 am to 5 pm on both days and includes breakfast and lunch, in addition to dinner on day one, all courtesy of Schluter-Systems.

In addition, Schluter-Systems will provide accommodations for the night preceding and following the first day of the workshop for those living more than one hour away from the workshop location.

For more information, email [email protected] or call Lisa Cartier or Marci LaPier at 800-472-4588, ext 4116 and 4118. While in Albuquerque, contact Tim Whittington at 602-768-8649.

Installation and sales training courses join the curriculum

may-beckyNTCA_UniversityBy Becky Serbin, Training and Education Coordinator

I enjoyed seeing many familiar faces and putting faces to names at Coverings 2016. Many members stopped me to talk about NTCA University. Some were interested in updates on the apprenticeship program but many were looking for options to train staff or journeymen who have been on the job for a while. Since I am originally from the manufacturing side of the business, I talked to them about getting in touch with their manufacturer reps because they offer continuing education courses and they could put a program together based on the needs of the contractor. But it also made me think about NTCA University and what we could do for our members, so we are introducing a new category called “Installation and Sales Training.”

During the introduction of this new category, the courses will be very similar to the apprenticeship courses. They will be approximately 10 – 15 minutes in length and will touch on the basic information such as safety or types of waterproofing membranes.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, much of the information in the apprenticeship courses is relevant to anyone new to the industry such as a sales associate, but since these courses are already produced they can easily be transferred to the new category. Second, it is amazing how often long-time professionals will forget the basics. How often do you hear yourself say “I know how to do that” or “I’ve done it the same way for 30 years”? What if there are other ways to consider doing the job that may be easier or safer?

These courses are designed to be watched in a group setting such as a safety meeting or a continuing education class and then be used to generate conversations started on a particular topic. They’re not designed to simply show in a group that disperses before talking about their content. The courses can be stopped or backed up to review the topic for the group or to prompt more in-depth conversation. The course can also be shown in its entirety and then used as the topic of group discussion. For example, during the group discussion, someone with a preference toward a particular type of grout may learn about some of the newer products on the market that may be a better fit to a particular job.
No matter your age, years on the job, or position in the company, everyone has an opportunity to learn from one another. If you are curious about any of the installation and sales training courses that are currently available, check out the NTCA store at www.tile-assn.com for a brief description of each of the courses.

NTCA endorses University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS) Online Courses


The University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS), the leading developer of online educational coursework for the tile and stone industry, has received endorsement of its core curriculum by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA). As an added benefit for NTCA members, UofCTS courses will be offered through the NTCA website and individuals who sign up will receive a special membership discount.
Included in the lineup of available courses are Understanding the Basics of Ceramic Tile and Understanding the Basics of Natural Stone that take a comprehensive look at the ceramic tile and stone industries. The courses teach industry standards, technical information about tile and stone and sales techniques, and are designed to give salespeople the tools they need in order to increase sales.
The Tile Installer Thin-set Standards (ITS) Verification course instructs installers, setters and finishers, on industry standards and practices, manufacturers’ requirements, and proper installation methods for tile thin-set applications that apply to ceramic tile, porcelain tile, stone tile, glass tile and other types of adhered tile materials. The course also teaches how to inspect and prepare substrates and tiles, how to achieve full thinset coverage, and points out quality workmanship requirements and practices. Tile installers who complete the ITS Verification course receive a certificate of completion and must renew it every two years to remain current with industry standards. The ITS course is available in English and in Spanish.
Referring to the new partnership, Donato Pompo, founder of the UofCTS, said “NTCA has always been dedicated to providing education to the tile contracting trade, and we are excited to collaborate with them to bring the highest quality online courses in the industry.”
In addition to providing the UofCTS Online courses on tile and stone, and the ITS Verification course for installers, UofCTS is assisting NTCA in developing other online courses for its new online apprenticeship training program.
For details on purchasing any of the online courses, please visit NTCA website at
www.tile-assn.com. Students have fourteen days to complete courses, which are accessible online, 24/7. The benefits of online training are many: convenience, no travel costs or loss of work. All that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Upon successful completion of any course, students are able to print a certificate and download a reference guide.

NTCA brings custom workshop to Louisville Tile Distributors

1-louisvilleBy Lesley Goddin

Louisville Tile Distributors (LTD) is deeply invested in education for staff and customers – so much so that the company schedules NTCA Tile & Stone Workshops every other year at several of its locations.

“We believe the workshops are a great opportunity for us to help educate, train and promote the tile industry,” said Don Kincaid, LTD vice president. “The rapid pace of change and introduction of new products and methods makes the workshops more valuable and relevant than ever. Our employees take pride in getting attendance at the events and do not want their branch to be the ‘low man’ on the attendance list.“

Attendance at the June workshop at the Indianapolis/Fisher branch included 80 customers, 15 vendors and 20 employees, said Brian Dillard, operations manager for the location. “The hot topic was the installing of mosaic and the large thin tiles. [NTCA’s Gerald Sloan] is a great guy and always does a good job with these shows.”

J.T. Wenger, general manager of the Evansville, Ind., location, said “We had 19 vendors and 58 contractors in attendance.” Attendees were most interested in cleaning of tile and large-format installation. “This was by far our best seminar to date,” Wenger said.  “We had good participation, excellent fried chicken, and Gerald was very informative as always. We are excited for the next class and thinking of ways to outdo this very successful event!”

2-louisvilleAt this writing, six workshops have been completed with 248 attendees – and two more are scheduled. “We anticipate well over 300 attendees,” Kincaid said.

Kincaid added, “Vendor table tops prior to event and the pertinent subject matter during the workshops allow tile mechanics, architects, estimators and all industry attendees a chance to learn together. In many cases, full-time mechanics who set tile every day never get the opportunity to see the industry. The workshops provide a forum for everyone in the industry to interact with our staff, suppliers and other channel members. The exchange and feedback is invaluable for all attendees.

“Our industry is changing very fast, with bigger and thinner tile , new grouts and thinsets, leveling systems, tools and more,” Kincaid added. “Disseminating information is very challenging, therefore the workshops are a great opportunity for us and the industry to connect and interact.”

3-louisville60 years strong

This year was even more special, since the company, which has grown to eight locations, is celebrating its 60th year in business.

Kincaid said the company is adding its 60th anniversary logo to business cards, stationery, banners and all communication tools this year.

“We will be hosting eight birthday parties, one for each location, in reverse chronological order – newest to oldest,” he added. “The Louisville celebration, September 22, will be a grand finale with attendance of the company founder, Jud Wilcox.”


Wednesday, September 9th Knoxville

Thursday, September 10th –      Chattanooga

Wednesday, September 16th Cincinnati

Thursday, September 17th –      Indianapolis

Wednesday, October 14th –       Nashville

Thursday, October 15th –           Evansville

Wednesday, October 21st –       Lexington

Thursday, October 22nd –           Louisville 


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