HCC Success Stories

Josh Hallameyer is a journeyman HVACR (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration) mechanic whose path to career success began at Harford. Josh's first employer in the HVACR industry was a participant in Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland's Apprenticeship Program, so it was the perfect opportunity for Josh to launch his career in HVACR. Various friends who were successful in this business encouraged him to consider HVACR as a career path because of the attractive pay and plentiful job opportunities. After four years of classroom instruction, 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, and a true dedication to learning the trade, Josh earned his HVACR journeyman's license. He credits the HACC program at Harford for providing him with the training and knowledge he needed to become successful in the HVACR industry.

The HACC of Maryland established the apprenticeship program in 1996 to train technicians to work in the HVACR industry. Well-trained, reliable technicians are in constant demand, as an increasing number of commercial and residential buildings with sophisticated climate control systems are retrofitted, upgraded, or replaced entirely.

When enrolling as a registered apprentice, students earn credit for classroom as well as on-the-job training. Students work during the day for a licensed contractor under the supervision of an experienced journeyperson; classroom training takes place two evenings a week from September through April. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to receive their journeyman license from the State of Maryland without taking the exam.

Josh recommends this program to anyone looking to begin a career in HVACR. It was great knowing that the instructors who I learned from were also mechanics and supervisors in the field during the day and were able to share current real-life experiences that I could relate to from my daily experiences in the field. He also believes the program's strength is due in large part to the instructors with their depth of knowledge, delivering the information in a way that is easy to comprehend. In addition, the labs have the exact type of equipment that is in the field which proves invaluable in applying what is learned in the classroom to the real world. It's also a bonus that the students in the class generally stay together as a cohort throughout the program. Staying together each year gave us the opportunity to share and compare our experiences as apprentices throughout the years.

Josh's advice to anyone considering a career in the HVAC industry is to look at the attractive salary and plentiful job opportunities. "There are so many avenues to take and a wide variety of specialties. Don't limit yourself to thinking it's just furnaces and air conditioning units in residences — there's so much more out there, especially with commercial properties — food processing equipment, ice machines, refrigeration, etc. Plus, technology is constantly evolving. Most employers will send their HVAC journeymen to training seminars for certification to keep on top of new equipment and technologies. Yes, there's the physical aspect to consider — it can be demanding as far as being in tight places, sometimes in extreme temperatures, but it can also be very rewarding."

There are also opportunities for growth. One can make a great living as a journeyman; to take it further, they can study and take the master's license exam to become a master craftsman and likely command a higher salary. Starting your own business and have journeymen work for you is also an option.

Josh is currently employed as a journeyman HVACR mechanic with Critical Systems by Schneider Electric. He works in all areas of the field with commercial/industrial HVACR equipment including installation, troubleshooting, and repairs. Says Josh, "There are so many aspects to HVACR from residential to industrial, and from heating and AC equipment to food service equipment. I have had the privilege to work in most of these areas and the knowledge and skills I've learned at Harford has helped me in each of these areas." Josh's goal is to be the expert, the "go-to" guy, at his company to earn him the harder, more complex jobs that will continue to challenge him and provide additional learning opportunities.

Josh's positive experience with the HVACR apprenticeship program inspired him to give back to the industry by becoming an instructor for the program. According to Stephanie Anderson, Executive Director of Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland, "We couldn't be more thrilled that Josh chose to teach for us, as it is a real testament to the strength of our program." Josh is an instructor for the Year 1 students in the HVAC apprenticeship program at Harford. In Year 1, the instruction is all classroom-based; apprentices learn concepts and work through the math and other problem-solving scenarios that a journeyman is sure to encounter. Years 2 and 3 are exclusively in the lab, where they are getting hands-on experience that they will take to the field with their employer under the supervision of an experienced journeyman. Year 4 is back in the classroom, where they learn about more complex problems such as determining equipment size for a job, filling out and understanding the paperwork and forms that come with every job, as well as many of the complex math equations that would be encountered in the field. Why does Josh teach after a long workday? He enjoys passing along his expertise and mentoring students who were just like him when he started in the program and finds it satisfying to provide guidance toward a much better career than many of his students ever thought possible.

The Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland Apprenticeship Program at Harford Community College is one of the largest and most successful in the state. Last year, 24 students graduated from the program at Harford, with a total of 278 graduates in Maryland since the program's inception in 1996. In the last five years, the number of students in the program in Maryland has doubled. HVACR journeymen in Maryland earn an average of $57,890 annually, or $27.83 per hour. Projected job growth is 15% per year, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Applications are available annually on July 1 and are due the third week in August. Applications can be downloaded at www.haccmd.org/apprenticeship.html. For more information, email training@harford.edu or call 443-412-2440, or contact Stephanie Anderson at Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors of Maryland at 410-431-8889 or sanderson@haccmd.org.