FORT LEE, Va. -- Students and instructors of the Ordnance School 91C Utilities Equipment Repairer Course received detailed information about the credentialing opportunities associated with their career field at a special presentation here Oct. 22.
Representatives of a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration trade group were among those on hand to provide insights about specific certifications and employment opportunities during the HVAC Professions Seminar at the Ordnance Resiliency and Training Center.
“Our mission is to relay information and impart upon the Soldiers in this program how much opportunity there is in the industry and how much we are here to support them in any decision they make concerning their careers,” said Adanna N. Le Gendre, marketing manager for the North American Technician Excellence organization.
NATE, headquartered in Arlington, is the “nation’s largest independent, third-party non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians,” according to its website.
During the seminar, students received briefings on a number of topics and were afforded the opportunity to ask questions among the three presenters.
John D. Childers, the 91C course manager, said the seminar is a part of school’s growing relationship with NATE – a partnership that is expanding skill and career advancement opportunities for those in uniform.
“This program is important to Soldiers because the more credentials they earn, the more marketable they become,” he said, also noting that it’s the second year the school has coordinated the special HVACR information session.
The 91C course introduces Soldiers to their first NATE certification – the Ready-To-Work Test that is administered free and does not add any additional training time because the material is already a part of the course content.
“Every Soldier here gets the opportunity to take it, so that when they graduate, they will already have their first entry-level NATE certification,” said Childers.
Once Soldiers earn their initial certifications, they can move to more progressively challenging credentialing upgrades after fulfilling on-the-job and other criteria, said Childers.
Many of the advanced NATE certification costs are covered by the GI Bill, according to the Credentialing Opportunities Online website, www.cool.army.mil.
Le Gendre, noting credentialed 91C Soldiers have a substantial advantage over entry-level workers, said those with HVACR skills generally are in high demand.
“There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for jobs,” she said. “Not only is the industry growing, but we also have a shortage of skilled labor.”
Soldiers trained in the 91C military occupational specialty primarily inspect and repair air conditioner electrical systems, air conditioner vapor systems, refrigeration unit electrical systems, portable heater fuel and electrical systems and fire extinguishers, according to the www.goarmy.com website.
The Utilities Equipment Repairer Course is 12 weeks long and graduates roughly 700 Soldiers annually.