Continuing Education / Internet

Part
01
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Part
01

Continuing Education Trends: Life Insurance / Annuities Brokers

Texas currently requires life insurance brokers to complete 24 hours of Continuing Education every two years. Courses must be state-approved, include topics on ethics and take place, in part, in a classroom setting. Brokers and journeymen interested in selling annuities must complete an additional four-hour course. Course topics are set by the NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners) and can include the following: annuity types and contracts, suitability, standards of conduct, and sales practices. However, topics may not include marketing or sales strategies. Our research shows historical trends for state-approved Continuing Education courses on both life insurance and annuities include regulations and requirements and suitability.

Regulations and Requirements

Texas accepts Continuing Education credits from four companies on life insurance. Each of the seven courses available focuses on regulations and requirements. Two include topics on annuities. For example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company offers a course through Kaplan on stop loss.

In contrast, there are 40 state-approved Continuing Education companies for courses on annuities. Each company offers courses introducing annuity basics. These courses include topics such as types and classifications, the primary uses of annuities, and taxation.

Suitability

At least half of the 40 state-approved annuity Continuing Education companies offered courses on suitability, requiring brokers to act in the best interest of the consumer and be familiar with how annuity contracts affect them. For example, the Center for Continuing Education, based in Texas, offers a course on annuities including suitability as well as topics on disclosure, record keeping and replacement.

Research Strategy

Our team scoured news and insurance market publications and government websites for research specific to Texas' current requirements for Continuing Education credits in life insurance and annuities. However, insurance licenses are issued by states and education topics are controlled by regulatory practices. Therefore, trends in topics are limited by these constraints and information on them are restricted to government sources and commercial companies with course paywalls requiring students to register.

Government regulations also affect course demand. For example, life insurance brokers in Texas may be exempt from Continuing Education if they have held their license for more than 20 years. Therefore, fewer courses or education companies may be needed. Annuity courses may be in higher demand due to the 2012 state law requiring all state resident brokers to complete the four-hour requirement. Since 2003 Texas has had the largest number of investment branches open each year in the U.S. Continuing education for brokers will continue to be necessary so long as the government requires it.
Part
02
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Part
02

Continuing Education Trends: Real Estate Professionals

Maintenance of CRS designation and new technology tools are two historical trends in Continuing Education for real estate professionals. Although these two trends date back to three to four years ago, they remain significant today in Continuing Education for real estate professionals.

Maintenance of CRS Designation

Trend Description

  • The "Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers."
  • Real estate professionals, who qualify for this designation, equip themselves with tools, higher knowledge, and network platforms to be more efficient.
  • Designated members make up the "top 3% of all real estate professionals in the country."
  • The education that ensures the maintenance of the CRS designation includes "sell-a-bration sessions, CRS elective courses, free live or recorded member benefit webinars, pre-approved CRS local networking group events, and CRS-produced education courses."
  • Other education that ensures the maintenance of the CRS designation includes "writing an article for The Residential Specialist (TRS), serving as a subject-matter expert (SME) for RRC, and authoring an RRC course or being a course content contributor."
  • Any of the above options for the maintenance of the CRS designation must make up "two hours of continued education (CE) every calendar year."
  • All real estate professionals with CRS designation, who desire to keep their designation status, must complete these two hours CE during the stated period. Failure to comply could lead to them giving up their CRS designation.

Trend Driver

  • The new requirement for maintaining the CRS designation became effective from 2016 following the approval by the CRS Board of Directors at its annual meeting.
  • All holders of the designation were expected to comply with this directive by the end of 2017 to maintain their designated status for the following year.
  • What drove this trend was the need to create a clear distinction between the CRS and other certifications.
  • Another factor that drove this trend was the need to establish a high standard for the designation.

Examples of Companies

New Technology Tools

Trend Description

  • New technology tools are shaping performances differently in various industries, including the realty industry.
  • As much as these tools can help deliver a sophisticated level of service to clients, it can also endanger the services rendered by businesses if poorly used.
  • Real estate professionals depend on new technology tools to help improve their service offerings and delivery to clients and prospective clients.
  • Continuing education (CE) in technology trends that provide innovative tools and services, which prioritizes client relationships, is helping real estate professionals in the industry to stay ahead of the game.
  • For instance, a 4-hour CE course selling for $39 displays the title of "technology tools, trends, and risk management."
  • The course is predicated on a 2017 real estate report by the National Association of Realtors, which states that "staying up to date on new platforms and systems will be one of the biggest challenges for brokerages in the coming years."
  • Some highlights of the course include "an overview of technology tools like drones, live streaming, single-property sites, speaking photos, and how to keep online data secure."
  • Other highlights include "technological advances in transaction management such as document sharing, electronic signatures, cloud storage, and organization software."
  • The aim of this course is to build skills and familiarize real estate professionals with these technology tools to "enhance service to sellers and minimize risks involved in their use."

Trend Driver

  • There was no way the real estate industry could isolate itself from the way new technology tools were evolving the business landscape. Therefore, change was inevitable, and technology was a significant driver of that change.
  • The 2017 real estate report by the National Association of Realtors also drove the trend. This is because the body shared insights on the need for its members to move with the trend in technology and not remain stagnant. Hence, the reason for CE in learning technology tools, trends, and risk management.

Examples of Companies

  • ListingSpark is "a licensed real estate brokerage in Texas" that is making use of innovative tools in technology to enhance offerings and services to clients.
  • The company makes use of "intuitive technology to simplify selling homes." Examples include the use of a virtual tour for property inspections and a digital key lock-box for easy tracking of vacant properties.
  • Ascendix Technologies is a "commercial real estate technology company based in Texas," which uses smart technology to help solve myriads of challenges for real estate firms.
  • Some smart technology the company deploys includes CRE CRM implementation, custom software development, CRE tech software solutions, and CRM concierge services.
  • Ascendix maximized business opportunities for Stiles by enriching the latter's real estate lead generation techniques. The company also helped JLL efficiently tracked properties, leases, and sales, giving the latter a 600% increase in CRM adoption.

Research Strategy

We provided two historical trends in Continuing Education for real estate professionals, dating back three to four years ago. While the maintenance for CRS designation started in 2016, the 2017 real estate report by the National Association of Realtors is one factor that instigated CE in new technology tools. Hence, the reason 'the CE Shop' referred to it on its sales page.

We limited the geographic scope of our research to the state of Texas, notwithstanding that we used over two companies as examples of companies at the forefront of these trends. For each trend, we gave a thorough description and indicated what drove the trend.
Part
03
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Part
03

Continuing Education Trends: Property Insurance Brokers

Introduction

Continuing education is a requirement for all insurance professionals. While state-by-state requirements vary, property insurance brokers and professionals are typically required to take enough continuing education to keep up with current rules, evolving regulations, and new products. Three historical trends in continuing education for property insurance brokers involve increased state requirements, including the state of Texas, increased availability of online options, and continuing education for meeting exam requirements.

Increased State Requirements

  • In the past several years, states have increased their mandates on continuing education for insurance professionals, including property insurance brokers, requiring more frequent updates of education.
  • Depending on the state, continuing education must be completed at least once every year to two years, in order to maintain an active license.
  • This compares to requirements between two to five years in the past.
  • Specifically, the state of Texas requires continuing education every two years that meets a range of standards.
  • The typical property insurance broker now requires 24 credit hours of insurance continuing education in this two year period, which must include 2 hours of ethics.

Increased Availability of Online Options

  • While continuing education requirements have increased for insurance professionals in most states, the ability to obtain these requirements online has also increased.
  • For example, the state of Texas states that acceptable training methods for continuing education include classroom based, correspondence based, company seminars, computer based training, and online courses.
  • Online options for continuing education have been developed by existing education institutions, as well as alternate organizations.
  • Businesses have begun to develop credit based certificates to meet the need for online continuing education, partnering with larger companies in the insurance sector.
  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have also begun to seek accreditation that allows their courses to be recognized by state mandated programs such as continuing education requirements.
  • Well known MOOC providers like Edx, Cousera and Udacity have also begun to partner with colleges and universities to deliver programs that meet the requirements of continuing education for those within specialized fields.

Company-Mandated Training

Research Strategy

In order to provide historical trends in continuing education for property insurance brokers, we consulted industry reports, business media, and credible news outlets, comparing current requirements with those in the past, in order to gain a historic perspective. We then also utilized data from the state of Texas to provide more insight, as well as information from providers of continuing education in the insurance space.


Part
04
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Part
04

Continuing Education Trends: Cosmetologists / Estheticians

While there is not publicly available information to fully answer the questions presented, we've used the data available to highlight the helpful findings below. We found that Texas has a demand for cosmetologists and estheticians, initial licensure requirements are decreasing, and continued education courses are readily available in multiple forms.

Helpful Findings

Increased Demand For Cosmetologists and Estheticians in Texas
Decreased Hours Requirement for Initial Licensure
  • Cosmetology schools may continue to offer 1500-Hour cosmetology operator courses, but the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation is allowing cosmetology students who have studied for 1000 hours to meet licensure requirements.
  • Once licensed, 4 hours of continuing education credits must be accrued prior to the re-licensing process.
Online vs. Classroom courses
  • There are 44 continuing education providers for classroom courses, 42 providers for online courses, and three providers who offer both classroom and online courses. These three providers are JSpeak, Texas Cosmetology Educators, and Texas Laser & Aesthetics Training Academy.
  • Online courses range from between $20-$38.99 and are far easier to find than classroom courses when searching online.

Research Strategy

We first looked into the projected need for cosmetologists and estheticians in Texas to see if there was a subsequent change in continued education availability. Two nationwide cosmetology school resources were consulted, and provided statistics on the increased demand in this profession. From there, we researched current licensure and continuing education requirements for cosmetologists and estheticians in Texas, again to see if there was a change in continued education availability and also to address the research criteria of changing regulations. A change in initial licensure regulation was found and documented, but no change in continued education was noted.

Next we researched, again through the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation, approved continuing education providers. We went into the provider websites in search of costs per course and enrollment statistics. The intention with this stage of research was to compare cost and enrollment rates of online courses and classroom courses to determine existing trends, such as an increase in online course availability or a decrease in classroom course cost. Some data on cost was available via provider websites, such as Texas Nail Technician's catalog for online courses and Tarrant County College District's classroom course tuition. However, much data was unavailable, such as the many classroom courses provided through salons that do not have websites. As such, this information was not readily available enough to yield substantial data for accurate comparisons and trend determination.

From our research it is evident that a cosmetology or esthetician student in Texas is in demand for employment and has a wide range of options when choosing a continued education partner. Pointed research on why students choose online or classroom courses for cosmetology study could provide clarity for moving forwards in this situation, should the research criteria be amended.
Part
05
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Part
05

Continuing Education Trends: HVAC Technicians / Journeymen

Continuing Education has long been a requirement for HVAC technicians and HVAC journeymen. Keeping up with current issues, technologies, codes and regulations must be done annually to maintain a current license. Several trends have emerged recently in the HVAC CE community: the movement towards offering training both online and on-demand, the focus on "green" technology and efficiency, and the forecasted need for many more HVAC technicians in the next decade.

Trend #1: Online and On-Demand Training and Continuing Education

  • In the last decade, Continuing Education has developed more of an online presence. Continuing Education online and on-demand has transformed the way that students and professionals learn.
  • More options are available for HVAC Techs and journeymen to meet their eight hours of required annual CE. They no longer have to travel long distances to attend inconveniently scheduled in-person classes. This trend towards online learning is driven by both the need for convenience and the industry desire to maintain quality standards. This is particularly evident in a state as large as Texas, where a HVAC tech in Amarillo might hear something entirely different than one in El Paso.
  • TACCA (the Texas Air Conditioning Contractors Association) offers both in-person and online training.
  • ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) is leading the field in offering instructor-led CE classes online and self-directed e-learning.
  • Carrier, a HVAC manufacturer, is one of many companies that has created their own online school (Carrier University) to assist HVAC Technicians in learning to operate and maintain their equipment.


Trend #2: "Green" Technology to increase efficiency and cut waste


Trend #3: A Growing Business

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that HVAC Installation, Maintenance, and Repair is a quickly growing industry. It is expected to grow 13% nationwide from 2018-2028. These new HVAC workers will all need access to required Continuing Education training.
  • Focusing on Texas, the projections are even more dramatic. Projections indicate that there will be need for an additional 6,190 HVAC Technicians between the years of 2016-2026, an increase of 23%.


We conducted research on the HVAC education industry in the U.S. with specific interests in Texas and in Continuing Education. To gather information about the HVAC education industry, we focused on ASHRAE and other industry leaders and professional and licensing organizations. We looked at their industry literature such as "ACHR NEWS", their corporate magazine and at conference proceedings. One particularly helpful document was the ASHRAE 2019 Conference Attendee Survey on Industry Trends. We recommend focusing future research on ASHRAE for industry-wide information, and TACCA for Texas-specific information. When it came to industry hiring projections and statistics, we focused on external organizations such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We recommend digging further into the BLS for more statistical information.

Part
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Part
06

Continuing Education Trends: Electricians / Master Electricians / Electrician Journeymen

Although specific trends with regard to continuing education for electricians in Texas were not found in spite of exhaustive investigation, some helpful information has been provided relating to broader trends among electricians' continuing education and continuing education in the United States more generally.

Helpful Findings

  • Employment of electricians in the United States is expected to increase by a rate 10% higher than the national average between 2018 and 2028.
  • Texas is the state with the second-highest number of employed electricians in the United States, behind only California.
  • Continuing education is particularly important among electrical contractors, both for conducting everyday business and for keeping current with industry trends, such as new lighting controls and home automation.
  • The rate of retirement among veteran electricians is increasing rapidly, creating a challenging environment for trainees seeking experienced mentorship.
  • With life expectancy on the rise, younger generations entering the workforce can expect to work for many decades and must therefore invest in continuing education and adult learning in order to remain relevant and employable as industries change throughout their careers.
  • Tuition costs continue to rise as well, leading to concerns regarding return on investment (ROI) and relevance of course materials among students and employers paying for degree and certification programs.
  • Despite the fact that trade unions and employers have increasingly called for broader opportunities in continuing education for their employees, the number of employees receiving sponsorship for such education from their employers has decreased.
  • Decreased job tenures may be part of the reason employers are not investing in continuing education for their employees, but regardless, this decline in sponsorship has transferred the financial onus to employees, increasing the importance of ROI to continuing education consumers, especially among low- and middle-wage workers.
  • There is a trend among certain employers, however, in locating educational institutions to work with companies to create proprietary learning programs for corporate employees.
  • Finally, it should be noted that amid the current outbreak of COVID-19, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has waived continuing education requirements for all licenses expiring now through May 2020 in order to "help keep our licensees ready and available to assist with combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus."

Research Strategy

We began our research by searching for trends and general changes throughout the past 5 years of "News and Updates" on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's (TDLR) web page for Electrician Licensing. Though general information was present about certain new rules and regulations, no updates related specifically to continuing education.

We then performed a targeted search of websites listed on TDLR's site as approved continuing education providers for electricians in Texas, in hopes of finding historical information about licensing news, new requirements, or general market changes in company blogs or press releases. The majority of these sites did not have sections dedicated to news or blogs, and the information that was available regarding licensing or continuing education was all current, perhaps in an effort to reduce confusion for electricians seeking this information.

Next, we scoured Texas-based news sources for information concerning the continuing education industry and new players in the continuing education market. No specific trends were found with regard to changes in regulations, though there were mentions of continuing education firms being acquired in the state of Texas.

We reviewed public information from professional organizations for electricians throughout the United States, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the National Electrical Contractors' Association, and Independent Electrical Contractors. As with provider websites for continuing education courses for electricians, only information regarding current requirements and regulations was available.

In the absence of historical trends in continuing education for electricians in Texas, we conducted a scan for general insights related to electricians and their continuing education throughout the United States. We found that continuing education is particularly vital for electricians in light of a widespread decrease in apprenticeships under experienced electricians due to retirement as well as growing demand for specialized knowledge in smart home systems and other integrated electronics.

Finally, we focused our attention on broader trends in the continuing education industry through both press releases and primary sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. We found that employment rates for electricians are expected to grow significantly faster than the average, with Texas specifically being the state with the second-highest number of employed electricians as of May 2018, behind only California.
Part
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Part
07

Continuing Education Process: Life Insurance / Annuities Brokers

The continuing education requirements for life insurance and annuities brokers in Texas include the completion of at least 24 hours of continuing education throughout each license term, of which two hours must be ethics-related. At least half of the hours must take place in a classroom or in an equivalent of a classroom setting. The licensee must complete the deficient number of hours in 90 days or pay a fine of $50 per deficient hour.

Continuing Education Requirements

Credit Toward CE Requirements

  • According to the Texas Department of Insurance, credit is earned by taking courses from registered course providers. Each course indicates the number of hours and whether it count toward the ethics requirement.

Other ways to earn CE credit

  • Passing professional designation programs is one way to earn credits. A professional designation program is nationally recognized in the insurance industry and is issued by an entity that maintains a not-for-profit status that has been in existence for at least five years. Up to 4 hours of continuing education credits can be earned by an agent who is an active member of a state or national insurance association.
  • Qualifying courses that are not certified by the Texas Department of Insurance may also be used for credit.
  • Qualifying courses are insurance courses that are part of a national designation certification program; offered for credit by accredited colleges, universities, or law schools; approved for classroom and classroom equivalent, or participatory credit by the continuing education approval authority of a state bar association or state board of public accountancy; or certified or approved for continuing education credit under the guidelines of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

Annuity Requirements


Part
08
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Part
08

Continuing Education Process: Real Estate Professionals

The Texas Real Estate Commission oversees continuing education requirements and provider approval for the state of Texas. Renewing agents are required to complete a total of 18 hours of continuing education every two years with 382 approved classroom providers and 37 approved online providers in addition to two large trade conferences providing continuing education annually.

Continuing Education Course Delivery

  • There are 37 online providers of continuing education in Texas with only 17 offering Legal Update 1 and 2.
  • 382 providers are approved to offer classroom-based continuing education.
  • Professional association, Texas Realtors, hosts two events each year with significant opportunities for continuing education, the Texas Realtors’ Conference each September, and the Texas Realtors' Winter Meeting.

Timing of Continuing Education

  • Continuing education is available year-round, primarily via approved third-party providers.
  • Each year approximately 1,700 realtors attend the Texas Realtors’ Conference which offered 29 continuing education courses during the 2019 meeting.
  • The Texas Realtors’ Winter Meeting also provides significant continuing education opportunities with the 2020 meeting including Legal Update 1 and 2 in addition to 5 general courses.

Responsibility for Completion

  • Individual agents are responsible for ensuring they complete all continuing education requirements as a provision of their real estate license renewal. The provider of each course is responsible for submitting the necessary documentation of completion to the Texas Real Estate Commission.

Research Strategy

The Texas Real Estate Commission does not make data on continuing education completion publicly available. The National Association of Realtors similarly does not make this data available.
Utilizing publicly available data, including the number and type of providers and Texas Realtors’ conference information, I was able to determine that the majority of continuing education coursework is offered via third-party providers in a classroom-based setting. Additionally, significant continuing education opportunities are offered in February and September each year via Texas Realtors.

Part
09
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Part
09

Continuing Education Process: Property Insurance / Annuities Brokers

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) is in charge of all property insurance-related continued education approval and licensing for the state of Texas. Property (and Casualty) licensees must complete the required 24 hours (including 2 hours of ethics) of courses and credits through certified third-party educators, accredited colleges and universities, and national designation examinations per two-year renewal periods.

Timing of Education for Property Insurance Professionals

  • Both online and on-site courses are available all year round for students who wish to receive credits. However, at least half of the required hours must be classroom or "classroom equivalent", meaning no more than 12 hours of self-study courses can be certified as credit.
  • It can be inferred that insurance professionals tend to obtain their credits during the less busy, late fall or winter seasons, in contrast to the high-peak, spring and summer seasons.
  • This seasonality in insurance sales is assumed to be correlated with the home sale market, as mortgage lenders may require new homeowners to secure property insurance before the purchase. In short, as fewer homes (and therefore fewer insurance coverage) are sold in the less busy seasons, insurance professionals may have more time to complete courses.

Methods of Obtaining Continuing Education Credits

  • Most commonly, professionals can complete a number of courses that have been approved by TDI from registered course providers only. Information on both online and on-site courses and providers is available on the Sircon website.
  • Up to 12 credits may also be earned by passing qualifying national designation examinations, which grant licensees with professional designations offered by The Insurance Institute of America, The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, and more.
  • Certain "qualifying" courses that do not have TDI certification may also be accepted as CE credit. These courses are offered by accredited colleges and universities, or certified by continuing education approval authorities and board of public accountancy of the state.
  • Recently, insurance companies like Lincoln Financial Group have been investing in training programs and offering continued education courses for their employees and professionals.

Responsibility of Completion

  • Requirements are enforced by the Texas Insurance Code and TDI, who have online access to licensees' course completion directly from the certified providers.
  • However, insurance brokers and professionals themselves must be responsible for fulfilling and keeping track of their required CE credits in order to maintain their licenses and avoid penalties.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

As the TDI website does not explicitly include information for insurance "brokers", we have used information from its page for "agents and adjusters" instead which are included within the term "professionals". Upon exhausting our databases and search engines for data, we were unable to determine statistical breakdowns for how property insurance professionals obtain CE credits. Instead, we have provided all the possible methods of obtaining credits for a license in Texas. Because there was no explicit mention of seasonality for insurance continued education in publicly available sources, it was concluded that online courses, at the least, would be provided year-long by third-party providers. Finally, to determine the seasonality of property insurance brokers receiving continuing education, we had to make the following assumptions: first, homeowners' insurance is a major category of property insurance; second, purchasing of homeowners' insurance is highly correlated with buying a home. With these assumptions, we were able to conclude that during peak seasons (spring and summer), insurance professionals are quite busy and therefore unable to take time to obtain credits. In contrast, they are more likely to take courses during slow seasons (winter and late fall) as fewer consumers demand property insurance during this time.
Part
10
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Part
10

Continuing Education Process: Cosmetologists / Estheticians

In Texas, cosmetology services cannot be provided legally without a valid license. To be able to renew a license, it is necessary to complete a continuing education course by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The course is completed once the licensee completes the required number of hours, and there is no final exam.

Cosmetology Work and Licenses

  • In Texas, it is not possible to provide cosmetology services legally with an expired license. Depending on a licensee's status, a license renewal process may take up to several weeks.
  • A licensee can begin a renewal 60 days before the license expires. If the license has been expired for less than 3 years, it is still possible to renew the license by paying a higher fee for a renewal application.
  • If a license has been expired for three or more years, it is only possible to "apply for a new license and take the required exams."

Continuing Education Courses

  • It is necessary to complete a continuing education course approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) to renew a cosmetology license.
  • Continuing education courses for cosmetologists (including estheticians) "must include one hour in sanitation and three hours in any topic listed in section 83.120 of the Administrative rules."
  • A licensee (except for those who are over 65 years old and have a cosmetology license for at least 15 years) is required to complete four hours of TDLR approved continuing education to renew a license. For a 64-year-old licensee who has a cosmetology license for at least 15 years, it is required to complete only one hour of sanitation.
  • Additionally, continuing education courses for cosmetologists must allocate a portion of time for education on human trafficking. It should provide tools for recognizing and assessing potential victims, including how to report such cases.
  • Continuing education courses can be completed at any time during the two years before the license expires.
  • Continuing education courses can be completed with one of the registered providers. Most of the providers offer online courses, but some providers also offer courses in classrooms.
  • The course is completed once the licensee completes the required number of hours, and there is no final exam. Upon completion, a provider is required to report the continuing education hours to TDLR within seven days. The provider should also issue a completion certificate within 15 days from the end of a course.

Getting a New License and Taking an Exam

  • Cosmetology students and licensees whose licenses have been expired for at least three years have to apply for a new license and take a full exam to get a new license. TDLR offers examination through a third-party vendor, PSI.
  • All applicants must pass the written and practical portion of the exam.
  • Applicants can take written exams in Abilene, Amarillo, Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Harlingen, Houston, Lubbock, McAllen, Midland, San Antonio, Tyler and Waco, and practical exams in Austin, San Antonio, the DFW Metroplex, the Greater Houston area, McAllen, El Paso, Midland, and Amarillo.
  • Depending on the type of the test, applicants may be required to bring certain equipment, supplies, a live model or mannequin, or other required materials. To be able to take a test, applicants also have to bring a valid government-issued ID.
  • To pass the test, applicants must achieve a score of at least 70%.
Part
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Part
11

Continuing Education Process: HVAC Technicians / Journeymen

Texas HVAC technicians and journeymen are required to obtain their own licensing after completing 36 months of hands on training either on the job or through an education program. Details of the exam and licensing have been provided below.

Overview

  • In Texas, HVAC technicians are not required to have a license before beginning work, however, they are not allowed to perform work without supervision until obtaining a state license.
  • The fee for taking the licensing exam is $115 per attempt.
  • Licensing in Texas for HVAC technicians is required for technicians to obtain a job working on their own in the industry.
  • There are two types of certifications that can be obtained:
  • Class A Texas HVAC license: Technicians with this license are qualified to work on units of any size.
  • Class B Texas HVAC license: Technicians with this license are qualified to "work on cooling systems that are 25 tons and under, and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour and under."

When Training Is Done

  • There is no seasonal availability for taking the Texas HVAC Licensing Exam.
  • According to state statutes, the exam can be taken anytime within 1 year of applying and can be taken as often as needed during that time period. However, the technician or journeyman is required to pay for the exam for each attempt.

How Training Is Done

Part
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Part
12

Continuing Education Process: Electricians / Master Electricians / Electrician Journeymen

Overall, electricians in Texas must obtain continuing education (CE) credits before renewing their licenses every year. There are over 100 providers authorized in the state, either through in-person or online courses, and all electricians must be fully licensed to work in the state.

How

  • The state of Texas requires four hours of continuing education per year in order for an electrician to renew their license.
  • These courses can be completed online or in-person. 46 providers are authorized to offer online courses, and 57 providers offer in-person learning across the state.

Who Is Responsible

  • The Texas Department of Licensing and Registration (TDLR) is the entity for ensuring electricians are properly licensed in the state. Licenses must be renewed yearly, and to renew, the Department must have proof the person has completed their continuing education requirement.
  • Authorized CE providers send information to the TDLR when a person completes their CE.
  • Anyone in the state who performs electrical work must be licensed and therefore is also subject to CE requirements.

When

  • There are no indications that there is seasonal demand for continuing education for electricians in Texas. In-person providers offer classes year-round.
  • Furthermore, because licenses must be renewed yearly, this means CE requirements are rolling, meaning that whenever a person's license is due to expire, that is when they must have completed their continuing education requirements by.
  • While it is impossible to tell if electricians are more likely to complete their CE requirements during one season or another, expiration dates of current licensees are fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.
  • One article states that summer is extremely busy for electricians, so it is possible to assume that they are less likely to do CE requirements during these times unless forced to by leaving it too late.
  • It can also be assumed that it is relatively common for electricians to leave their CE requirements until the last minute, as several providers mention they send CE completion verification to the TDLR within 24 hours, implying that electricians are looking for the TDLR to be updated quickly because they are on an urgent deadline to renew their licenses before expiration.




Part
13
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Part
13

Unsecured Websites

HTTPS websites allow for secure sharing of information over the internet. This is not the case with HTTP sites. Leading web browser companies have been advocating for the adoption of HTTPS standards by website owners to secure consumer information. Here is an overview of how major browsers have handled unsecured sites in the last few years.

Overview

  • HTTP refers to Hypertext Transfer Protocol, which is used to share information over networks. Data shared over HTTP connections is in text format and can be intercepted by unintended users.
  • On the other HTTPS represents the normal HTTP that is encrypted with Transport Layer Security (TLS) technology to provide secure sharing of data over connections. Usually, websites share information over web browsers.
  • The major internet browsers in the U.S. by market share are Chrome (47.38%), Safari (36.28%), Firefox (4.31%), and Edge (3.94%).
  • In the last few years, players in the internet browser industry have been working towards an all secure web by helping consumers know which websites are secure and those that are not based, on HTTPS.

What has Changed

Google Chrome

  • In 2018, Google implemented its plans to tag HTTP sites as "Not Secure". These sites do not encrypt data shared over the internet with SSL certificates. There is also an additional information icon that on clicking reveals details why the site is not considered safe. Users may be advised not to share personal information or make purchases on the website for safety reasons.
  • On the other hand, Google dropped the 'Secure' tag on HTTPS websites and retained only a padlock symbol which signifies that the site is encrypted with SSL certificates.

Safari

  • Apple's Safari uses a padlock icon on web pages that are protected with SSL certificates and data sharing between the hosting server and the browser is encrypted.
  • The absence of a padlock on the web page address bar implies that the site is not HTTPS compliant and therefore data shared between the hosting server and browser is not encrypted.
  • Newer versions of the Safari browser warn users with a "Not Secure" or "Website Not Secure" message when they enter personal data on websites with expired or invalid encryption certificates.

Firefox

  • Firefox marks HTTPS websites with a green padlock while HTTP sites are unmarked. However, if the HTTP sites have a form requesting the user to enter a password and username, it is flagged with a padlock that has a red strike-through line.
  • When the user clicks this icon, additional information is revealed warning them that login information may be compromised. While Firefox intends to flag all HTTP sites like Google, it's yet to do so.

Edge

  • Microsoft's Edge marks HTTPS sites with a padlock icon while HTTP websites are not marked. However, clicking the information icon on HTTP sites reveals a warning that the website is not encrypted and that it is easy for a third-party to steal user's personal information.

How Long the Transition has Lasted

  • Statistics show that the transition from HTTP to HTTPS was gradual between 2015 and 2016 but increased significantly from 2017 to 2020.
  • According to Google, in march 2015, 44% of all pages loaded through Chrome where HTTPS compliant. This figure increased to 60% by the end of 2016. Between January 2017 and March 2020, this figure grew from 61% to 93%.
  • While there are still many HTTP websites on the web, the push to have all websites HTTPS compliant is on course.

Impact of the Change on Site Performance Metrics

  • Statistics show that 84% of consumers abandon an online purchase if they realize that the website is insecure. This means that the security of an e-commerce platform has a direct impact on its sales.
  • There is a strong push to have an all secure web as hinted by Google. This means that eventually, sites that not secure will be phased out.
  • HTTPS sites load faster than HTTP websites. This not only improves the ranking of the websites but also attracts more visitors.
  • Studies show that 46% of people dislike waiting for web pages to load and that they spend 70% more time on websites that load within 5 seconds than those load in 19 seconds. Moreover, 79% of shoppers will not return to an e-commerce platform to buy again if they experience a performance issue.
  • The Google ranking algorithm relies on HTTPS to rank organic listings. 40% of Google's page one listings are HTTPS websites. This means that HTTP sites are continually becoming less visible on the web.
Part
14
of fourteen
Part
14

Data Breaches and Internet Perceptions

Due to the data breaches over the past few years, many Americans are avoiding engaging with data breached companies online, hesitating to present their financial data online, sidestepping public Wi-Fi networks, evading unsecured websites, and using passwordless authentication, among other actions.

Avoiding Online Services from Data-Breached Brands

  • According to a Ping Identity survey that included respondents from the United States, around 78% of consumers are willing to cease engaging with a company online after it endured a data breach. Furthermore, about 36% of consumers stated that they would not continue engaging with the company altogether following a data breach.
  • At least 49% of them would bypass signing up for and utilizing an online service/application that reported a data breach.

Taking Actions to Enhance Personal Security

  • Another survey from Security.org revealed that 59.1% of Americans made their passwords more complex following a data breach. Around 44.6% of Americans became hesitant to provide their financial details online after a data breach.
  • Up to 34.8% of them refrained from logging into their personal accounts while accessing public Wi-Fi servers, while 30.5% quit downloading files they were not familiar with.
  • Moreover, 13.2% of Americans in the survey reported that they started using a VPN, or a virtual private network, which permits them to develop shield their browsing activities from others while using public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Just 10.6% of them either reduced their online shopping activities or stopped altogether, while 7.3% of surveyed Americans began to use virtual debit/credit cards in order to shield their real information.

Less Trust in the Safety of Personal Information Among Older Generations

  • Among those over the age of 55, only 27% reported being either "confident or very confident" in an online service provider's capability to safeguard their personal data, according to Ping Identity's survey.
  • Meanwhile, 41% of this age cohort say they are willing to enter their banking credentials on a mobile application or website. More than half (54%) of those below the age of 35 are willing to do the same.
  • However, individuals over the age of 55 (62%) are more willing than younger generations aged below 35 (37%) to pay money to guarantee that their personal data never gets breached.

Avoiding Unsecured Websites

  • As mentioned in a blog post from HubSpot, 85% of consumers in the United States will stop browsing through a website if they recognize that it is not secured. This figure is slightly higher than citizens in Australia (77%), the United Kingdom (83%), and the rest of the world (82%). Only 15% of American consumers would continue using an unsecured site, which could be attributed to the level of awareness among citizens of the difference between it and a secured one.
  • The use of a secured website keeps consumers from having their information stolen via a SQL injection, which is a form of a data breach that takes advantage of an unsecured website's SQL database management software and forces it to provide information that it usually does not.

Going Passwordless

  • The co-founder of UNSProject, Jonah Stein, referred to passwords as "a 60-year-old solution built on a 5,000-year-old idea." The primary issue is that many consumers in the United States and globally use the same password, which makes it easy for hackers and identity thieves to steal their credentials and impersonate them.
  • It is expected that, due to data breaches and other events, many internet users throughout the United States may be logging into the majority of their online accounts in ways that are similar to how they unlock their mobile devices, leading to the eradication of passwords. This action involves using more modern forms of identification, which are typically more complex than traditional methods. These include facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, security keys, analyzation of speech patterns, etc.
  • One of the main purposes for utilizing passwordless authentication is to significantly reduce the risk of data breaches, identity theft, and related events.
  • In 2018, over 70% of all consumers said they were willing to select passwordless multi-factor authentication instead of traditional passwords and usernames when it came to online accounts. Notably, older groups (55 and up) were 10% more likely to utilize this form of authentication when compared to younger cohorts.

Very Little Faith in Social Media Platforms

  • In the United States, a rather small amount of citizens have faith in social media platforms regarding data protection. Many Americans believe that social media platforms are doing a poor job of protecting online privacy.
  • One of the least trusted organizations concerning the preservation of privacy and personal data protection is social media providers. Merely 16% of respondents to a survey involving U.S. consumers, marketers, and IT practitioners on the impact of data breaches stated that they trust social media providers with their data and privacy.
  • This fact is extremely concerning, as 54% of people say that their privacy and security is most vital to them when they are using social media compared to 51% for conducting internet searches.
Sources
Sources

From Part 02
Quotes
  • "sell-a-bration sessions, CRS elective courses, free live or recorded member benefit webinars, pre-approved CRS local networking group events, and CRS-produced education such as classroom courses, eLearning courses."
Quotes
  • "writing article for The Residential Specialist (TRS), serving as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for RRC, and authoring an RRC course or being a course content contributor."
  • "two hours of continued education every calendar year."
Quotes
  • "staying up to date on new platforms and systems will be one of the biggest challenges for brokerages in the coming years."
  • "an overview of technology tools like drones, live streaming, single-property sites, and speaking photos, and how to keep online data secure."
  • "technological advances in transaction management such as document sharing, electronic signatures, cloud storage, and organization software."
  • "enhance service to sellers and minimize risks involved in their use."
  • "technology tools, trends, and risk management."
Quotes
  • "Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation is the highest credential awarded to residential sales agents, managers, and brokers."
  • "top 3% of all realtors in the country."
Quotes
  • "a licensed real estate brokerage in Texas"
  • "intuitive technology to simplify selling homes."
Quotes
  • "a сommercial real estate technology company based in Texas"
From Part 06
Quotes
  • "To help keep our licensees ready and available to assist with combatting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, TDLR requested authority from Governor Greg Abbott to suspend certain regulatory requirements statewide, including the following: Continuing education requirements are waived for all licenses expiring in March, April, and May 2020. Licensees will still submit their renewal applications, pay the required fees, and have their criminal histories checked but they will not need to complete any required continuing education requirements this licensing cycle."
Quotes
  • "Austin software company Abila has acquired Peach New Media."
  • "Peach New Media, which was founded in 2001 and has offices in Georgia and Massachusetts, is a provider of online continuing education services."
  • "Abila executives said they were eager to add the Freestone learning platform, Peach New Media’s flagship product, to the array of services the company can offer clients."
Quotes
  • "More than ever, continuous education is the lifeblood of electrical contractors—it is necessary not only for doing business but also for staying on top of industry trends. Technologies—such as LED lighting, lighting controls and whole home automation, as well as advances in generators and transformers—increasingly require ongoing education from electricians to win bids, meet demand and stay competitive. As such, filling any gaps in knowledge is essential to successfully take on jobs, meet code and get referrals."
  • "Veteran electricians are rapidly retiring, leaving many trainees with the challenge of meeting National Electrical Code (NEC), largely without experienced mentors and traditional apprenticeships."
  • "'Today, our industry is severely lacking qualified people to do the work, and there is so much demand,' said Robinson. 'Yet, we are losing experienced electricians and foremen to retirement, so they cannot mentor apprentices and journeymen on the job.' The result, he said, is that ongoing professional education is needed not only to close the shortfall in mentoring, but also to bring electricians up to speed on new technologies."
Quotes
  • "Employment of electricians is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Homes and businesses continue to require wiring, and electricians will be needed to install the necessary components."
Quotes
  • "We are entering an era where life expectancy is rising. It is expected that those who were born in year 2000 and after will live 100 or more years.[5] This is great news, but not without ripples throughout society."
  • "People will expect to work 60 or more years. They will need education along the way to keep pace with the changing technologies and needs in the workplace."
Quotes
  • "The traditional continuing education industry is facing pressures of its own, notes the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). Online education has erased regional boundaries. Rising tuition costs increase expectations by students and families about the return on investment and new technology is paving the way for new education providers."
  • "Demographics are shifting also: Millennials and Generation Z are becoming the majority of the workforce, racial diversity is increasing and the wealth and income gaps between middle- and upper-income households are widening. All of this is reshaping the continuing education industry, particularly those programs within higher education institutions that are facing increasing competition."
  • "The Aspen Institute think tank found that, though many employers and trade unions have called for additional continuing education opportunities for workers in the last few years, the percentage of workers receiving employer-sponsored training has been steadily decreasing. And as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), government spending on training programs for workers is less than half of what it was 30 years ago."
  • "The reason for this may be the decrease in job tenure, notes the Aspen Institute’s report, making employers more reluctant to invest in their employees. However, this shifts the burden of maintaining — and paying for — continuing education to the employee."
  • "Predictably, the rising costs of continuing education credits and shifting more of those costs to employees is creating barriers to access for low- and middle-income workers. The Aspen Institute report goes on to note that businesses disproportionately direct training investments toward the highest-paid workers, despite recent evidence that a focus on educating front-line workers can yield an impressive return on investment."
  • "One trend reported by education consultancy Entangled Solutions is that more employers are seeking out educational partners to create custom corporate training programs, rather than outsourcing their continuing education to industry-wide organizations. They might adapt off-the-shelf certificate programs to the company’s needs, or they might partner with an education provider to fully customize programs for the employer’s requirements"
From Part 07
Quotes
  • "Continuing education keeps you informed and helps you better serve Texas consumers. Stay current with your requirements to avoid penalties."
  • "Most licenses require 24 hours of continuing education during each license term. Limited lines, county mutual, and small value life insurance agents need 10 hours every term. "
  • "You won't be able to renew your license until your continuing education is complete, and you've paid any fines you might have. There are several ways to resolve a deficiency"
Quotes
  • "For all licenses issued or renewing on and after November 1, 2015, completion of the 24 hours of CE is required for a licensee to renew his license. If a licensee does not complete the 24 hours of CE before the expiration date of the license, the licensee will have 90 days to complete the deficient number of hours and pay a fine of $50 per deficient hour."
  • "If these two conditions are not met within 90 days of the license expiring, the license will be inactivated, and the licensee will have to apply for a new license. A new license will not be granted until the deficient CE hours are completed and the fine is paid. "
  • "In order to ensure that there is no delay in renewing a license, license holders are encouraged to complete CE hours at least 30 days before the license expires to allow time for the CE provider to report the successful completion of the course(s) to TDI."
Quotes
  • "All agents wishing to sell, solicit, or negotiate an annuity contract or represent an insurer in relation to an annuity product must complete a one-time, four-hour certification training course prior to engaging."
  • "Additionally, each resident agent must complete eight hours of continuing education that specifically relates to annuities during the agent’s two-year licensing period. A resident agent may use the one-time, four-hour certification training course to satisfy part of the eight-hour annuity continuing education required during the agent’s two-year licensing period."