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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

Confirmed Cases: 91776

Reported Deaths: 1639
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12039228
Mobile9170197
Montgomery6305147
Madison508227
Tuscaloosa398466
Baldwin326323
Shelby307532
Marshall298433
Unassigned281255
Lee251940
Morgan224315
Etowah195728
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Elmore162637
Calhoun159012
Walker147464
Houston132712
Dallas129423
Russell12471
St. Clair123612
Limestone120813
Franklin120620
Cullman115711
Colbert110712
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Escambia97915
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Jackson8704
Chambers82838
Tallapoosa82278
Dale78722
Butler75135
Blount7413
Chilton7226
Coffee7165
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Pike6607
Barbour5635
Lowndes55824
Marion54724
Marengo52614
Clarke4879
Hale45726
Bullock44111
Winston43211
Perry4314
Wilcox4089
Monroe3954
Randolph39110
Bibb3813
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Pickens3719
Sumter35918
Lawrence3240
Washington31412
Macon31113
Crenshaw2973
Choctaw27612
Cherokee2477
Henry2463
Greene24511
Geneva2420
Clay2235
Lamar2032
Fayette1765
Cleburne1211
Coosa922
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 112441

Reported Deaths: 1117
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby21728293
Davidson19563205
Rutherford615553
Hamilton572047
Knox410837
Williamson330822
Sumner321970
Unassigned29575
Out of TN278914
Wilson210222
Sevier17565
Montgomery175212
Bradley173910
Putnam160113
Trousdale15766
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Hamblen129713
Blount11817
Tipton11239
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Washington10892
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Macon84113
Sullivan8339
Hardeman83011
Lake7560
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Gibson5902
Dyer5687
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Jefferson5083
McMinn49320
Lawrence4916
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Smith3843
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DeKalb3221
Weakley3103
Franklin2864
Marshall2662
Lincoln2551
Carroll2443
Crockett2364
Claiborne2350
Hickman2330
Henry2250
Campbell2211
Wayne2191
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White2053
Chester1962
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Union1290
Cannon1260
Humphreys1093
Benton1081
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Scott1050
Grundy1022
Meigs990
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