Career Path for the Trades

Have a desire to become a Plumber, Pipefitter or HVACR Technician?  We know where you need to go.

Apprentice Training Centers

The MCAI partners with Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 33 and Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 125 to offer state-of-the-art apprentice training through training centers located in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids. Each apprentice must complete 5 years of trade-specific training before “turning out” as a journeyperson. Apprentices and journeypersons can also earn an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in Apprenticeship Pipefitting. The three trades taught at the training centers are:

Plumber – Today’s plumber needs the knowledge and skills that will enable him or her to work on projects that range from residential homes to large nuclear power plants. While their work still may include unclogging drains or installing fixtures, plumbers are called upon to do increasingly complex work.

Pipefitter – Power plants, waste water and water treatment plants, office buildings, medical facilities, and factories all have complex high- and low-pressure piping systems that require highly trained pipefitters. Pipefitters/Steamfitters install, weld and repair all types of pipes and related materials like power piping, pneumatic piping, hydraulic piping, hot water and steam heating systems, refrigeration and air conditioning systems, and temperature control equipment.

HVACR Technician – Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians are the ones who install, maintain, and repair these systems that control the temperature, humidity and general air quality in the buildings in which we live, work, and play.

To learn more about apprentice training at these facilities, visit their websites listed below.

Community Colleges

Iowans are fortunate in that we have a robust network of community colleges providing high quality education. These community colleges are an excellent choice for those seeking education in the construction trades. Some community colleges have partnered with union apprentice training programs to offer articulation agreements that provide one to two years credit toward completing the respective 5-year apprentice training program. More information on programs offered can be found through the website links listed below.

Career Path for Engineers and Project Managers

Engineers and project managers in our industry come from many sources. Many become project managers after gaining experience in the field as a journeyman or foreman. Others become project managers and engineers through engineering or construction management programs offered at colleges and universities around the country. We are fortunate that Iowa’s three public universities provide engineering and construction management programs. Although the MCAI maintains a close working relationship with Iowa State University’s MCA Student Chapter, other institutions in Iowa provide an excellent foundation for a career in the mechanical contracting industry as well.

For more information on these programs, visit the following websites:

MCAA Student Chapters – A Partnership Ensuring Our Future

MCA of America’s Career Development Committee is committed to assisting students at universities and colleges with mechanical contracting related programs by providing grants to student chapters, national competitions and grants to contractors hiring interns. Please visit the MCAA’s website for more information.


Opportunities have never looked better for persons choosing a career in the mechanical contracting industry. Iowa State University and MCA share a common goal in providing the best education for tomorrow’s construction industry leaders.Brad Perkins, P.E. Senior Lecturer
Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering — Iowa State University