PEARL ― Scott Berryhill was on what he felt was the surest route to success as a banking and finance major when a part-time job in sheet metal changed his course toward the perfect career track for his goals and interests.

“I enjoy working with my hands, and I was making good money,” said Berryhill, 40, an HVAC program instructor for the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation. “I stayed with sheet-metal work because I was good at it, and I also realized there were more and better opportunities to move up.”

Today, Berryhill is a project manager for Climate Masters in Pearl, where he’s worked for 21 years. He also teaches HVAC apprentices at the MCEF Training Center in Pearl.

“At MCEF, we are helping produce professionals who are well-versed in their craft,” said Berryhill, who earned his certification through MCEF. “My generation was taught that you wouldn’t be anything unless you had a four-year degree. But there are great opportunities in the construction industry for skilled professionals, and they can start making a good living at an early age.”

Growing up in Pearl, Berryhill enjoyed working on cars with his dad and learned carpentry skills in “shop class” at Pearl Junior High. After graduation, a friend in the sheet metal union convinced him to try his hand at sheet metal work. Berryhill soon discovered that he preferred working with his hands to working behind a desk. It was a lesson he hasn’t forgotten.

“I have two sons, and I’m not forcing them to go to college,” he said. “In sheet metal, I feel a sense of accomplishment and take pride in what I’ve done. It’s tough work but also rewarding.”

Sheet-metal experts design and fabricate ducts for HVAC systems. At Climate Masters, Berryhill has participated in hundreds of installation projects for residential and commercial customers and has seen technology transform the HVAC industry as well as his craft.

“Just about everything we do is computerized now,” he said. “We use CAD software and plasma cutters to make ducting, and we use computer technology for estimating jobs, too. Automation speeds up our processes and frees up time for employees to do other things.”

Berryhill’s knowledge and experience have been key assets for MCEF in delivering state-of-the-art training programs. In addition to being an MCEF instructor, he served as Mississippi’s sheet metal curriculum subject matter expert on a multi-state authoring and review committee spearheaded by the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

NCCER is recognized as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals. The committee’s goal was to update NCCER textbooks, lesson plans and module exams for high school career and technical education programs.

“Scott was an excellent resource for the committee in helping update and modernize craft training programs for new generations of learners,” said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. “He understands the value of quality training, and he is always looking for ways to help apprentices excel in their coursework and build a solid foundation for future success.”

Berryhill also achieved a career milestone in 2015 when he placed first in his division in the MCEF SkillsUSA Competition, which allowed him to advance to the finals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the following year.

Berryhill is thankful for teachers and mentors throughout his career who helped him become a better craftsman. Now he’s able to do the same for aspiring trade professionals who are looking for stable careers in an industry where their skills are appreciated and rewarded.

“It’s a good feeling to see trainees go out and do a good job and take pride in their work,” he said. “Employers are making a good investment in the future when they send employees through MCEF training programs. Our goal is to make sure they get the best training possible, and we’re always striving to improve.”

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more at