It’s Getting Hot in Here…

This week, southern Nevada residents are bracing for another excessive heat wave. Around the Silver State, air conditioning companies and their heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians are in high demand during the hot summer months. Both nationally and around the state, HVACR technicians are in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated, “Employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations [which is around 7 percent]. Commercial and residential building construction is expected to drive employment growth, and job opportunities for HVACR [heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration] technicians are expected to be good.” In this essay, we profile some of the efforts of community colleges and school districts to meet the Silver State’s workforce needs by training HVACR technicians, and we look at some of the commercial heating and cooling systems in southern Nevada. 


    New equipment at the CSN HVAC Center of Excellence’s J. Duncan Goodrich Air Conditioning Technology Lab, which will open this fall at the William and Dorothy Raggio High Tech Center at Western (adjacent to Western High School).


    The renovated, state-of-the-art facility will house four separate hands-on learning laboratories for Residential Air Conditioning, Commercial Refrigeration, and Central Plant/Critical Systems, as well as a sheet metal shop. And there are four classrooms in the building where degree and certificate students can take their general education requirements.   


    In renovating the new J. Duncan Goodrich Air Conditioning Technology Lab, CSN worked with architects to expose the building’s internal systems so that students could better visualize and understand the heating and cooling systems. CSN faculty will be able to teach both Residential Air Conditioning and Commercial HVAC/R at this new facility. 


    As part of this new CSN HVAC Center of Excellence at Western, CSN is strengthening its partnership with the Clark County School District (CCSD). Starting in 2018-2019, CSN will launch a new dual enrollment program with Western High School. Participating high school students at Western High will have the opportunity to earn 10 credits per semester towards a Certificate of Achievement, or Associate of Applied Science in Air Conditioning Technology. If a high school student begins the dual enrollment program in her junior year of high school, she will have the opportunity to concurrently complete their Certificate of Achievement in Air Conditioning Technology as she completes her general high school graduation requirements. These high school graduates would be able to enter the workforce as technicians.


    National and state occupational data suggests that there will be 154 job openings for new HVACR technicians each year in the Silver State. Many of these jobs will be located at large commercial and industrial businesses, including gaming companies.  Community colleges have programs to prepare and train HVACR technicians to work at commercial enterprises, such as Boyd Gaming Corporation and MGM Resorts International. Pictured here (top) is the building that houses the heaters and chillers for one of the MGM Resorts International properties. Pictured below is one of the commercial air conditioning units for one of the Boyd Gaming Corporation properties.  


    Truckee Meadows offers Associate of Applied Science degrees in HVAC/R and HVAC/R Critical Systems, as well as a HVAC/R Certificate of Achievement, HVAC/R Skills Certificate, and Commercial Refrigeration Skills Certificate. The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning Technology, Air Conditioning Technology – Central Plant, Air Conditioning Technology – Critical Systems, and Air Conditioning Technology – Food Service Refrigeration, as well as a certificate of achievement in Air Conditioning Technology. Pictured here is an example of an air handler at a MGM Resorts International property.  


    In Nevada, data from the Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR), indicates that short term HVAC job growth is expected to increase by 14 percent over 2016-2018. HVAC job growth over the period 2014-2024 is expected to increase by 42 percent. New construction is driving employment in the occupation, but new technology and an aging workforce are also significant drivers of job growth. Pictured here is another example of a commercial air chiller at one of MGM Resorts International’s properties. 


    As of 2017, data suggests that hourly and annual (mean) wages for HVAC technicians are higher than the average across many careers within the job category of Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations.  In 2017, the hourly (mean) wage for HVAC technicians was $25.39, which is higher than for all occupations within the category of Installation, Maintenance and Repair Occupations. The annual (mean) salary was $52,810, significantly higher than higher occupations within the same category. 


    Pictured above are new commercial heaters recently installed at an MGM Resorts International property. They use less energy and heat more efficiently than the previous equipment. 


    CSN faculty noted that the skills and competencies embedded in the Associate of Applied Science in Air Conditioning Technology, which would prepare a student to work on large, commercial heating and cooling systems (like the one pictured here) are the same skills used in robotics and advanced manufacturing.