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Skilled to Work: Lack of trained heating and air technicians cause difficulty for local companies

North Alabama sees about 140 annual openings for heating and air conditioning technicians on average, according to the Department of Labor.

Posted: Jul 18, 2019 1:28 PM
Updated: Jul 19, 2019 7:36 AM

With the heat index value in the Tennessee Valley expected to hit between 98 and 106 degrees over the next couple of days, many people are putting more pressure on their air conditioning units. 

More focus on AC units can lead to more calls to fix them and for some local companies that means they stay especially busy. 

Local heating and air conditioning programs:

  • Calhoun Community College
    • https://calhoun.edu/technologies/air-conditioning-and-refrigeration/
  • Drake State Community and Technical College
    • http://www.drakestate.edu/academic-programs/heating-air-conditioning-technology
  • Wallace State Community College
    • http://www.wallacestate.edu/programs/technical-division/heating-and-air-conditioning
Chris Desadier works to install a new air conditioning unit for Environmental Services Corporation. Chris Desadier works to install a new air conditioning unit for Environmental Services Corporation.

However, finding qualified people to come work on heating and air systems can be difficult.

"I looked at 75 to 100 applications to hire two people," said Stephen Grimes, the vice president of Environmental Systems Corporation.

Grimes has worked for his family's business for more than 20 years. He said one of the challenges he faces is that many of the people who want a job in the industry don't have the training to do so.

"Unfortunately, while I can bring some people in like that, and we have and do, there’s only so many non-experienced, non-trained people you can bring on board to fill immediate needs," said Grimes.

And there is an ongoing need. According to the Alabama Department of Labor, the state has about 655 annual openings on average for HV/AC technicians. About 140 of those are in the Tennessee Valley.

According to Calhoun Community College, the range of base salaries, from entry to experienced, is roughly between $37,000 to $63,000.

Chris Desadier has also been in the business for nearly 20 years. He said the industry has been evolving over the years and he enjoys the ever-changing challenge.

"I can’t sit behind a desk or work in a building and stay there all day long and do the same thing over and over. Even though it’s still working on air conditioning, it’s a different problem every time you go to one," said Desadier.

And while community colleges, like Calhoun, are working to train the next generation of HV/AC techs, Grims worries that without more interest at the high school level, the worker shortage will only get worse.

"For every one that retires, you’ve got less than one coming in, so there’s going to be a shortage. I think in time you will see that begin to catch up, but that may take nearly a generation to get there, honestly," said Grimes.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 432536

Reported Deaths: 6379
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson63523957
Mobile30967562
Madison27627201
Tuscaloosa21122268
Montgomery19495326
Shelby18941126
Baldwin16798188
Lee12901102
Morgan12447129
Etowah11911178
Calhoun11365205
Marshall10322119
Houston8813156
Limestone823176
Cullman8159106
Elmore8056104
DeKalb7796102
Lauderdale773399
St. Clair7705122
Talladega6347109
Walker5993174
Jackson590341
Colbert543274
Blount541186
Autauga527061
Coffee454160
Dale405482
Franklin371948
Russell345712
Chilton340972
Covington334168
Escambia328344
Dallas310196
Chambers297370
Clarke290536
Tallapoosa2665107
Pike258830
Marion250155
Lawrence249150
Winston231442
Bibb219848
Geneva206946
Marengo205229
Pickens198631
Hale180842
Barbour177836
Fayette174528
Butler171358
Cherokee162530
Henry157523
Monroe150718
Randolph143236
Washington139527
Clay128546
Crenshaw121644
Cleburne119724
Lamar119621
Macon119637
Lowndes112536
Wilcox105822
Bullock101428
Perry99118
Conecuh96320
Sumter89726
Greene76723
Coosa62215
Choctaw51624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 697783

Reported Deaths: 8684
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby774751156
Davidson71955679
Knox39469429
Hamilton35252335
Rutherford33687294
Unassigned23344129
Williamson21776142
Sumner18551232
Out of TN1599878
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Wilson14674160
Sullivan12811216
Blount12197131
Washington12055199
Maury11145127
Bradley1099394
Sevier10663116
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Madison9232182
Robertson777986
Hamblen7114115
Anderson6904112
Greene6679115
Tipton629668
Coffee571482
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Cumberland547075
Bedford538690
Roane528279
Lawrence516869
Carter5156115
McMinn514674
Warren503354
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Dyer481687
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Hawkins452672
Franklin416865
Fayette404551
Obion403182
Rhea387056
Lincoln383844
Marshall352938
Cocke350257
Cheatham345731
Weakley342748
Henderson335259
Campbell332940
Giles328674
Carroll314360
White314144
Hardeman312054
Hardin302748
Lauderdale295531
Macon292751
Wayne266021
Henry265558
Overton257446
DeKalb245842
McNairy243642
Haywood241747
Smith233728
Marion232731
Trousdale229414
Scott227831
Hickman227034
Claiborne222930
Fentress214833
Grainger211938
Johnson203533
Morgan192616
Crockett182138
Chester176639
Bledsoe176011
Unicoi168745
Cannon159320
Lake157521
Decatur148328
Polk146617
Union142125
Grundy141422
Sequatchie138518
Humphreys135717
Benton133035
Lewis129921
Meigs116816
Stewart107420
Jackson105823
Perry95525
Clay95326
Houston94422
Moore8299
Pickett68820
Van Buren6727
Hancock4127

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