VR Training Labs Prepare Plumbing and HVAC Apprentices for Real World


CPI Plumbing & Heating is a family-owned-and-operated business servicing Mount Vernon and surrounding areas in northwest Washington state. They are known for providing high-quality repairs, installations and maintenance services for both residential and commercial customers.

From every customer interaction, to how they treat their staff and serve their community, CPI Plumbing & Heating structures their business around three core pillars — competency, professionalism and integrity.

VR Training Simulations for Plumbing and HVAC

Since 2019, CPI has been using Interplay Learning’s trades training platform, SkillMill™, to invest in the next generation of plumbers and HVAC technicians. Integrated into our apprenticeship program, is the company’s VR training simulations — which are playing a role in our students’ success.

By using Interplay’s VR technology, our students can learn to virtually flush a water heater within CPI’s in-house training lab. These training modules can be accessed via VR, and apprentices can even use them at home on their computers and tablets with the SkillMill app.

The great thing about working with Interplay Learning is that they listen to their customers and innovate with them. If the students don’t have a training module on a certain task, CPI can request Interplay create one. It’s been a real win, as they try to meet the needs of students by providing real-world scenarios before they head out onto real-world jobs.

A Modern-Day Upgrade to Apprenticeship Programs

The CPI training lab is one of the most unique features of our program. The 600-square-foot lab is fully equipped for students to practice the skills learned in the classroom in a true-to-life  setting. Used in concert with the Interplay VR modules, apprentices are building skills and  confidence that will help fast-track them into independent work.

CPI’s training is a true apprenticeship program, where students are hired to learn the trades.  After three months of classroom and lab training, students begin to work in the field with  experienced, licensed technicians. After passing a series of performance tests, apprentices  graduate to running their own calls with their own truck, as they continue to work toward being fully licensed.

CPI apprentices come with a variety of skill sets to start. Some students have just graduated from high school, while others may have training in an adjacent trade; some are  mechanically inclined, while others are novices with tools. It’s not the skills they bring, it’s more about the attitude to put in the work to grow the skills that matter. If individual students need help developing a certain skill, CPI’s seasoned trainers are there to assist them.

It’s a viable career path to earning a living wage. We’ve had apprentices go from being a  dishwasher, to being a licensed plumber making $120,000 a year, in four years!

While not every person who starts as an apprentice stays with CPI, the company is willing to invest in the apprentices. Those who do stay, are trained to CPI’s standards and are typically with the company for many years to come. To learn more about joining the CPI team, visit our careers page.


Monica Craig, Marketing Director at Cpi Plumbing & Heating

Monica Craig

Marketing Director at CPI Plumbing & Heating

Monica plays a major role in growing brand awareness, expanding to new marketing territories and sharing the CPI mission with the community. Her commitment has helped build CPI’s reputation for outstanding customer service and quality workmanship for both residential and commercial plumbing, heating and cooling services.