Blazing Trails In HVAC/R

Adriana Holden works with tools in a Capital Region BOCES heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration classroom.
With a strong career outlook, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC/R) is a solid option for students such as Adriana Holden, who is learning in our Career & Technical School classrooms this year.

Since she began working along with her dad at age 12, Adriana Holden has known she wanted a career in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R). Now, she is following in her father’s footsteps—and blazing trails—in what is a traditionally male-dominated trade.

This Niskayuna junior is the only female student enrolled in our HVAC/R program this year and is one of just three young women who have enrolled in the program in the last 23 years.

A lack of representation of young women in HVAC/R is not unique to our program. Nationally, women represent just 1.4 percent of the 332,900 workers in the industry.

Asked what interested in her in this particular trade, Holden emphasized how much fun she is having with what she’s learning.

“I like hands-on activities and you get to help people and work on different systems,” she said.

Her favorite HVAC/R activities so far?  Soldering and brazing (soldering with an alloy of copper and zinc at high temperature.)

In addition to being fun, Holden said she knows the career outlook in the industry is strong, for women and for men.

With 15 percent workforce growth forecast by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the average age of HVAC/R technicians being 54, demand is there for those looking to work in this field.

“I want to get a job in the industry, maybe with my dad’s employer, Adams Heating & Cooling,” Holden said. Adams is a supportive partner of our BOCES and has looked to our skilled HVAC/R grads when hiring for their team.

Retired Capital Region BOCES teacher Frank Ando said the industry needs more women—particularly now when companies are desperate to find qualified workers.

“It’s an awareness issue,” Ando said. “This is a career that is available and is a very good option for everyone.”