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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: 525049

Reported Deaths: 10824
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson757291498
Mobile40509800
Madison34201497
Tuscaloosa25469445
Montgomery24106574
Shelby23257245
Baldwin20815303
Lee15694167
Calhoun14391313
Morgan14183276
Etowah13728350
Marshall12043221
Houston10442280
Elmore10001202
Limestone9872149
Cullman9524191
St. Clair9519236
Lauderdale9301235
DeKalb8780184
Talladega8124174
Walker7160277
Autauga6819107
Jackson6770110
Blount6563133
Colbert6244133
Coffee5438113
Dale4780111
Russell432639
Franklin422081
Chilton4161111
Covington4090116
Tallapoosa3948149
Escambia390475
Dallas3530150
Chambers3527121
Clarke347760
Marion3083100
Pike306776
Lawrence297796
Winston273272
Bibb257362
Marengo248261
Geneva246375
Pickens233459
Barbour228956
Hale219575
Butler214368
Fayette210761
Henry188244
Cherokee183245
Randolph178841
Monroe174440
Washington166238
Macon156849
Clay150956
Crenshaw149857
Cleburne147341
Lamar139834
Lowndes138053
Wilcox125627
Bullock122340
Conecuh109828
Perry107726
Sumter103632
Coosa103128
Greene91534
Choctaw58924
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 839841

Reported Deaths: 12130
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby935471600
Davidson88371927
Knox49996626
Hamilton43575488
Rutherford42477424
Williamson27637215
Sumner23591345
Montgomery19799224
Wilson18569230
Out of TN1804895
Unassigned16945133
Sullivan16318287
Blount15240194
Bradley14701148
Washington14291244
Maury13286170
Sevier13222175
Putnam11227173
Madison10913241
Robertson9645130
Anderson8657172
Hamblen8528171
Greene7777152
Tipton7257101
Coffee6845121
Dickson6765109
Cumberland6624128
Carter6502156
Bedford6458129
Gibson6430145
McMinn640097
Roane6216103
Jefferson6098124
Loudon603869
Hawkins5841106
Lawrence583786
Monroe574995
Warren552681
Dyer5380104
Franklin510588
Fayette495576
Obion450696
Cheatham448555
Cocke445198
Lincoln432563
Rhea431875
Marshall413958
Campbell411262
Weakley404464
Giles396499
Henderson374976
Macon359077
Carroll358682
White356468
Hardin352866
Hardeman347264
Lauderdale315144
Henry313175
Marion311047
Claiborne309373
Scott306145
Overton299061
Wayne294534
Hickman281146
McNairy278554
DeKalb276553
Smith275339
Haywood268661
Grainger260049
Trousdale249322
Morgan246739
Fentress238747
Johnson234538
Chester210751
Bledsoe210311
Crockett202048
Polk200924
Unicoi196849
Cannon189731
Union187234
Grundy178434
Humphreys175722
Lake169526
Sequatchie167228
Benton163440
Decatur157739
Lewis156826
Meigs136124
Stewart131328
Jackson130935
Clay109931
Houston108833
Perry105728
Moore100317
Van Buren83823
Pickett75724
Hancock56112

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