Lincoln Tech has 22 campuses located throughout the United States, and they have been educating tomorrow’s workforce since 1946. Lincoln Tech trains its students to enter the workforce in the automotive, skilled trades, health sciences, culinary, spa and cosmetology, and information technology career fields. They are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
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Bob Martin: Joining us today for this edition of Imagine America Radio is Brian Capozzi, campus president, Lincoln Tech in Marietta, Georgia, which is just outside Atlanta, Georgia. The topic of today’s episode are heating and HVAC careers. We couldn’t think of any one person or any one school better suited to discuss this topic than you, Brian, and Lincoln Tech. First of all, may I call you Brian?
Brian Capozzi: Absolutely, sir.
Bob: Well, let’s start out just by jumping right in and just outline for us, if you wouldn’t mind, what is a heating and HVAC technician and what is the daily routine of a heating and HVAC technician when they are a Lincoln student?
Brian: Oh, absolutely. So, this is a fun topic for me. So I have been teaching this program here at Lincoln Tech in Marietta for a little bit over 10 years now, and although I don’t come from the field, this is one of my favorite fields. So when you think about an HVAC technician—here, in Atlanta, when it gets to June or July and the AC goes out, that’s when most people think of an HVAC technician. Someone that’s going to come and make your HVAC system work again, make it cool again, because it gets a little bit warm here in Atlanta. And then the rare circumstance that we have some chilly month through Atlanta, fixing our heating systems as well, which is a little bit more rare but still very important. But that’s just one component of what an HVAC tech might be.
For those of us that may have been in a home or an apartment that’s a little bit older, those units have an expected life to them. So at some point, they get replaced. HVAC technicians are the folks that are going to come in and replace those units to make them more efficient. Especially with some of today’s energy efficiency regulations that are out there, a lot of folks are looking to replace units to have things become a little bit more efficient, and save on those energy bills and costs. So that person might be crawling under your home or in your attic, to places we typically don’t go, where those things live that make our homes cooler or warmer—the little things that we don’t think about sometimes until they are broken.
But beyond that, if you think about some of the places that also require heating and air conditioning—and, again, an uncommon concept. Think about maybe the places that we’re working in right now or even our school. I can’t tell you how many HVAC units are on this building that need to be serviced on a regular basis to keep them in operating order. You think about what’s happening right now, the hospitals. Imagine keeping all those patients comfortable and just the overload that’s happening there right now. There’s a significant demand to make sure those things are operating the way that they should. And then, of course, let’s not forget about the folks in our food industry, whether it’s prepared food that we’re buying or going to the grocery store, things like frozen foods or things that need to be chilled. Those folks are critical in terms of making sure that that happens so that that product is not lost so we get it to the grocery store and folks like us can buy it.
But a lot of us don’t think about those things. They’re behind the scenes, and it’s really important that we spend some time and understand the different varieties of things that are out there.
Before getting into this trade and understanding it, I didn’t think about those things either, and it wasn’t until I had my graduates coming back with the different kind of job opportunities that we had and the employers that come into our campus and explain the different types of things that are out there that, again, most of us don’t think about or don’t get a chance to experience. So an HVAC technician can be everything from the basics of what we might understand to the most complex commercial operations in the field that most of us will never get a chance to see but are essentially critical in terms of just running our overall economy. So it really does go a lot of different directions. And I think an HVAC technician has a large variety of things they can consider when it comes to the field, so lots of different options when it comes to HVAC.
Lee Doubleday: Hey, Brian, this is Lee. I’m talking to Brian Capozzi, campus president of Lincoln Tech in Marietta, Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. Thank you for walking us through what an HVAC technician does. I think even I was surprised to hear all of the different avenues that an HVAC technician can go down in a career path.
So that gets me to my next point. I want to talk to you really quick about career outlook. What does the career outlook look like for HVAC technicians, both on a national level and then maybe even a little bit more particular in the Georgia area?
Brian: Yeah, sure. So I think I was looking at a statistic the other day and it said, I think by 2028, there’s over 400,000 HVAC jobs that will become open across the country. Here locally in Georgia, there’s around 12,000 jobs that will become open here locally. When I start to look at some of the demand that’s coming from our local employers and some of the fantastic partnerships that we’ve built with some national companies—actually global companies—and just what they’re looking for in terms of HVAC technicians and how committed they are to our campus, our students, and the programs that we’ve developed together, I just see this huge opportunity and this huge need in a lot of different directions. Outside of just the plain numbers, I’m just excited about the kinds of opportunities that students can look forward to and can actually, essentially, choose from because there is such a demand out there.
Lee: Yeah, great point. Well, with heating and air conditioning being in such high demand, it seems like this would be worth getting an education in.
So, I have sort of a three-parted question for you. Number one, should someone go back to school to learn how to become—or go to school to learn how to become an HVAC technician? Number two, what does a typical program include? And number three, how long is a typical HVAC program?
Brian: Sure. So if I could go back in my younger years, I certainly would have considered HVAC as a potential career interest. I didn’t know these kinds of opportunities existed. I grew up in a small town, and there wasn’t really a school that did training for this kind of thing. And although it was super important, I remember a lot of HVAC technicians coming out to fix things at my parents’ house. I never really considered what it would look like, so it’s one of those things you kind of maybe miss out on when it wasn’t right in front of you, you didn’t see the opportunities. But I most certainly would consider a career in HVAC. Those kind of folks are looking to be kind of hands-on. They’ve got to love the mechanics of it, the mechanics of the trade. And, again, just kind of going through some of the different options out there, even though it has a specific title, it brings a lot of different opportunities for students to explore the different venues of HVAC and that they want to go into.
And our programs here at the Marietta campus—we offer two programs. So we offer day and evening programs to accommodate folks that may be working during the day and trying to transition their careers at night. During the day, our program’s just about 11 months depending on when you start, and our evening program’s just about 17 months. It’s a pretty, you know, pretty accelerated. Our classes meet four days a week. So our job is to kind of get you trained and hopefully get you some of those employment opportunities that exist out there as quickly as we can.
Lee: Yeah, accelerated but still extensive. So that’s all very good.
So, let’s say that I’m a student and I’m interested in HVAC. When I tour a campus that’s offering this program, can you give me sort of a list of things that I should be looking for? Because it seems that a program such as this is going to require updated equipment in order to stay relevant and current work environment. So should the equipment that the school uses be something I should consider? And what else should I be considering? Maybe accreditation, length of program, partnerships with employers? Can you give me a sort of a quick checklist on what should I be looking for in a school if I’m interested in becoming an HVAC technician?
Brian: Absolutely. So, equipment is certainly important. As you tour our campus, as soon as we can open the doors and show you everything, equipment is certainly very important. When you tour our campus, you’re going to notice that each one of our classrooms—each one of our classrooms is also designed as a lab. That may or may not be the case for every school but in our school, we think it’s very important. So once you get through the series of what we’re teaching for that particular course—and let’s say maybe it’s basic refrigeration or electricity. Not only you’re going to go through the content of what’s prescribed in the book and our instructors talking to you. But we also want to see the practical part. We want to know that you’re comfortable with electricity. We want to know that you’re comfortable with your tools and your gauges and your refrigeration cycle. And, so, part of that process for us is making sure we get you in front of that equipment often as we can. Now, equipment is going to vary throughout every industry and operation. If you’re talking residential, it’s one kind of equipment, which we have plenty of; if you’re talking commercial equipment, that’s another very different animal, which we also have lots of examples of.
You’re going to see stuff that’s currently in the field. So let’s say, for example, a lot of the equipment that’s still out there in use today is some of the older refrigerants—the 410As that have been out there for a long time. Some of the newer stuff that’s coming out today are different refrigerants. So, you’re going to see a variety of some old, some new, and some future stuff that we’re talking about that is likely to come down the road; as EPA regs change and things change, we’ll most likely get those. But everything from residential systems to commercial systems to mini-splits, walk-in coolers, commercial control systems, ice machines—you’re going to see a variety of things that are going to happen throughout those different courses you’ll take in each one of the nine classes that we teach for HVAC. So as you’re walking through the school whether it’d be mine or someone else’s, I would look for equipment.
Another thing I would mention is to make sure that equipment looks like it’s being used. Our equipment, you’re going to walk into a classroom that looks like it’s in use and that’s important. There are some classes that look fancy and that’s amazing. I would rather my class look like it’s being used so that we’re getting you that experience you can take with you in the field and while you’re in front of that employer, you’re comfortable with the terminology, you’re comfortable with the things they’re going to ask. It’s not uncommon in this particular trade for an employer to ask you to bring your tools and set you up in front of a piece of equipment and ask you to run various tests and measures. That is not uncommon in a typical interview for HVAC, believe it or not. So that’s key for us: making sure you get some of those experiences.
Another thing I would ask is, “I have to talk to an instructor.” I think that’s important. I love when I see my potential students talking to an instructor. Most of my instructors will come out and talk to you. They want to know who you are. They want to make sure you’re a good fit for class too. I would have a conversation with an instructor. I think that’s important and see if you can sit in a class. Ask some questions. Make sure it’s a fit for you as a potential HVAC student. It’s one of those programs that’s demanding. You have to be a little bit mechanical. You’re going to use your hands. You’re going to get familiar with tools, and that may or may not be for everyone. So I think it’s a great opportunity to kind of get used to it and ask some questions and look familiar to what it’s going to be. It’s important because this is a career. It’s not a just job change for tomorrow. It’s something that we’re hoping you’re going to spend a good bit of time and progress through the industry and maybe come back and even teach for us. I don’t know.
Bob: We’re talking to Brian Capozzi, campus president at Lincoln Tech – Marrietta, Georgia, which is just outside Atlanta.
You mentioned earlier, Brian, that you’ve been with Lincoln Tech for 10 years. So, you’ve seen students come and go. What do you think, from what you’ve seen, are the three or four personality traits that lead to successful students at Lincoln and lead to successful employees wherever they’re going to go? And probably to business owners, because I’ve got to believe a number of your folks are coming in thinking they ultimately want to be running their own business.
Brian: That’s not uncommon. So here’s where I see some of my most successful students. A couple items that really stick out for me: The students that would typically be the most successful, they love to solve problems. They like to figure out why something works or why it doesn’t work. Troubleshooting is one of the biggest components of HVAC. Whether it be electrical or mechanical, troubleshooting is going to be the key component to making sure that you become a fantastic technician that propels himself or herself through the ranks and becomes the next level. So definitely that’s really key.
Another thing that’s really—you don’t have to be mechanical, but you have to be willing to be mechanical. So getting comfortable with tools, using your hands, and doing things a little bit different. Most people have probably not brazed and soldered before. You’re going to work with torches and there’s flames and there’s hot metal. Those are different things for a lot of folks. But getting comfortable with it and working with your hands and tools, that’s going to be really key to making it important.
And if I just go with three, my third one would be customer service. Customer service comes in so many forms and fashions. Whether you’re working with a residential operation or a commercial operation, you are the face of that company. Customer service is key for any of those folks in the industry because you are the face of what’s being represented for that operation. So if you’re able to put on that smile and be polite and to make sure those connections with the customers are happening and there’s communication back and forth and the customer feels comfortable, that is going to be super key for any employer that’s out there today. It’s a top-notch, definitely, requirement for a lot of our employers today. They’re certainly focused on customer service. So if I had to list off a top three, those would be my three that I think would make a fantastic technician at any given operation.
Bob: You’re listening to Imagine America Radio. Our guest today is Brian Capozzi, campus president, Lincoln Tech – Marietta, Georgia, which is just outside Atlanta. Brian, here’s what I hear from you. These are the items that I’m leaving here with.
First item I’m leaving with is that heating and HVAC careers are in very high demand, with job openings available to qualified—underscore qualified—students nationwide. Second thing I’m leaving this with is Lincoln Tech in Marietta, Georgia is a nationally accredited school providing education and training to students right now for the jobs that we’ve already talked about that are all across the country. And any interested student could go to the Lincoln Tech website for updated information on a career and also your particular campus in Marietta, Georgia.
Finally, I’m going to ask you, if you don’t mind, would you mind just giving us your contact information, beginning with email address, so if we’ve got any questions, we’ve got any callers that want to talk to you directly about what we went through today, they don’t got to go through us, they can go right to you?
Brian: Absolutely. So, again, my name is Brian Capozzi. My email address is going to be firstname.lastname@example.org. And if all else fails, please feel free to visit us at lincolntech.edu and just click on “campuses” and you’ll find Marietta, Georgia, and there’s all of our contact information right there as well.
Bob: Great job, Brian. You were very enthusiastic. We’ve been talking to Brian Capozzi, campus president of Lincoln Tech in Marietta, Georgia, outside Atlanta.
Want to thank today’s podcast audience for taking time out of their very busy schedules to download this episode of Imagine America Radio and listen to Brian. To avoid missing any future episodes, go to Spotify or Apple and click on the Imagine America Radio logo.
On behalf of my colleague, Lee Doubleday, and myself, please be safe and we’ll be talking to you all very, very soon. Goodbye.