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HVAC Apprenticeship Provides HCPSS Staff with a Unique Growth Opportunity

September 19th, 2022

Josh Wagoner went to college but soon realized the academic track wasn’t for him. With encouragement from his wife, he decided to explore an alternative path. He enrolled in vocational classes and took a job in the Howard County Public School System Logistics Center. He worked there for two years before transitioning to the HCPSS Maintenance Department as a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) preventative maintenance technician.

Wagoner enjoyed the HVAC work and became interested in advancing his career in that field. What he wasn’t sure of was how to do that. Around the same time, HCPSS was in search of highly qualified tradespeople, including HVAC technicians.

“It got us thinking about what we could do to enable our existing staff to enhance their qualifications,” recalls Herb Savje, HCPSS’ Director of Building Maintenance and Facility Operations.

Savje and his then-supervisor worked with the Maryland State Department of Labor to enable HCPSS employees to apprentice with trained HCPSS HVAC technicians and complete the 8,000 hours of on-the-job training required to earn a state license.

This was just the opportunity Wagoner was looking for. In just three years, he completed both the courses and on-the-job training required to become an HVAC technician–all while working at HCPSS.

In addition to being valedictorian of his class at Howard Community College, where he took his HVAC classes, Wagoner is the first HCPSS employee to earn state HVAC licensure by apprenticing at HCPSS.

As the result of his efforts, Wagoner has not only received a title change and a pay increase; he also has been assigned as the lead HVAC technician for several HCPSS schools.

“It’s been great to have this new level of responsibility. I now manage my own equipment, answer service calls that come in, make repairs, and can really take ownership of my work,” Wagnoner says.

Plus, he has a strong network of HCPSS colleagues to reach out to when the need arises.

“I got to know several great HVAC people at HCPSS when I was going through the Apprenticeship Program. Those relationships are so valuable, particularly when I need help with something. We all work together and try to help each other succeed.”

Savje, too, has found the Apprenticeship Program to be worthwhile.

“We have many skilled people working for us here at HCPSS. It’s great to be able to leverage their skills and talents and help them grow within our organization.”

For more information about the HVAC Apprenticeship, contact Herb Savje.