Lighting technology is speeding forward, and electrical contractors looking to profit from the lucrative lighting design market are challenged to keep up.

Although the construction market is slow in some areas, lighting design training opportunities are growing. Educational institutions, manufacturers, distributors, as well as trade and professional associations provide an array of on-site and online lighting courses, giving contractors an opportunity to earn continuing education credits. Topics range from basic to highly technical applications.

Lighting design training costs are as varied as the offerings. While some three-day on-site courses taught by well-known lighting professionals run $500 plus travel expenses, a surprising number of free online courses are available.

Members of many professional organizations are required to earn continuing education units (CEUs)or credits to demonstrate currency of knowledge and skills and to maintain their professional standing. But even if it’s not a requirement for your company, training almost always adds to a bottom line.

Cooper Lighting offers classes at The Source training center in Peachtree City, Ga. The 35,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility at Cooper Lighting’s headquarters, offers a plethora of seminars designed to broaden the understanding of lighting and its applications. The Source has served the lighting industry for 16 years and has trained 93,000 lighting and interior designers, architects, electrical contractors, facility managers, retail planners, energy-saving companies, engineers, distributors, builders and landscape architects.

The Source offers precertified seminars and workshops on Lighting Fundamentals/Lighting Basics, Healthcare Lighting Solutions Workshop, Exterior Lighting Design Solutions and Energy Solutions for Commercial & Industrial Lighting Design. Fees range from $350 to $500. Register online, www.cooperlighting.com/education, or contact Jere Greiner, The SOURCE/Cooper Lighting, 770.486.4680 or e-mail Source@cooperlighting.com.

Graybar lighting seminars are conducted in partnership with manufacturers. Graybar offers free seminars to appropriate Graybar sales representatives and their respective contractors in the design/build lighting area. Electrical contractors receive continuing education units for participating. The seminars cover a range of lighting training activities. Specific tracks include Lighting Fundamentals, Lighting Design Software (free software provided), Lighting Legislation Trends, Green Lighting Initiatives and LEED Projects.

Hubbell Lighting provides a variety of lighting courses at its new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified, 25,000-square-foot Lighting Solutions Center. The facility at Hubbell’s corporate headquarters in Greenville, S.C., features a five-topic Lighting Solutions Lab with multimedia presentations about lighting challenges.

Hubbell’s courses include Industrial Spaces Lighting, Commercial Spaces Lighting, Landscape Lighting, ESCO/Facilities Lighting, Lighting Legislation, Lighting for Architects and Engineers, Lighting Fundamentals, Design/Build Applications, e-Tools Workshop, High Intensity Discharge Ballasts, and Illuminating the Future of Lighting (Energy, Energy Solutions, Lighting Trends and New Technology). Course fees of $300 to $500 include concierge service to facilitate registration, hotel reservations and entertainment. Details are available at www.lightingsolutionscenter.com.

According to Mark Lien, Hubbell Lighting Solutions director, the company plans to add another lighting design option, video training online. Lien said video is more effective since it adds visuals of presenters accompanying their data.

“Video is more compelling, commanding attention better than just PowerPoint,” Lien said. “When people take online classes, they typically are at their desks and are interrupted by phones, e-mail and people entering the room. These interruptions negatively impact assimilation of information. Live presentations are ideal, but attendance is small compared with the potential for online education. Integrated video of presenters with their content strikes a balance.”

To access training offered by The Illuminating Engineers Society of North America, go to its home page, www.iesna.org. Under the Educational Opportunities drop-down heading, find two categories: “Discover Lighting” and “Office Lighting.” The office lighting course costs $199.80. The Discover Lighting course requires a sign-in procedure. Once you are past that, check out two offerings: Discover Lighting and Discover Lighting Applications.

Lighting Control & Design sponsors free in-office AIA-CES- registered programs for architects and engineers. Professional development hours (PDH) or CEUs are awarded to nonmembers. Courses are available to industry professionals nationwide.

Learn the basics of daylight harvesting—when and how to apply it to your construction designs—in a one-hour slideshow presentation. Drills on zoning and circuiting are provided to further develop an understanding of technology layout, which can be incorporated directly into drawings. LC&D also offers a self-paced tutorial on daylight harvesting including basic applications and zone calculation. Simply print out the pages, complete the drills, and submit them as directed to receive AIA or CEUs. Go to www.lightingcontrols.com.

Lightolier offers a free online training course—Lessons in Lighting—consisting of 24 lessons plus a final exam. It covers lighting fundamentals (luminaires, ballasts, lighting controls, design considerations). Targeted to those new to the lighting industry or for professionals looking to brush up their basic lighting knowledge, end-users, contractors, distributors, designers and students also can benefit from course content.

Lessons in Lighting qualifies for continuing education credits for several lighting organizations including AIA, ALA, NAILD and NCQLP. The course is offered in both English and Spanish. More details are available at www.lightolier.com. Lightolier’s Web site also offers an extensive lighting glossary for students and other site visitors.

Osram Sylvania offers lighting education and training at the company’s three LIGHTPOINT training facilities in Danvers, Mass.; Westfield, Ind.; Mississauga (Toronto), Ontario; and at the California Lighting Technology Center in Davis, Calif. Late 2008 courses include Lighting Essentials, Reference Tools, Intermediate Lighting Design and Application, a fundamental LED Lighting Application Workshop, and Lighting Design with LEDs. To learn more about the courses or register online, visit www.sylvania.com.

Square D Clipsal C-Bus Products has a free Web-based tutorial opportunity familiarizing students with the C-bus network solution to control modern building systems. Topics include basic concepts, operating parameters, components and topology. The tutorial also introduces more advanced topics, such as how C-bus networks can be configured with multi-functional scenes and how multinetwork installations are set up. Register at www.squaredlightingcontrol.com.

These are a few of the lighting design training options available. Electrical contractors who expand their lighting design capabilities during the current economic slowdown may find themselves on the fast track to profits when construction rebounds.

WOODS writes for many consumer and trade publications. She can be reached at patwoods123@hotmail.com.