In an industry that is expected to keep booming for years, careers in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) are not only desirable, but lucrative.

According to local HVAC companies actively involved in the Program Advisory Board at Manchester Community College (MCC), the current annual salary for an experienced HVAC Technician is about $70k. By 2020, it is projected to be around $100k.

In response to this need, MCC established an initiative that enables NH high school students to take MCC classes at 50% of the tuition per course. According to Eddie Curran, HVAC Department Chair at MCC, the initiative is known as Early College, which includes 4 program tracks: HVAC, Advanced Manufacturing, Allied Health, and Computer Science.

In the HVAC track, additional savings are realized for students, as courses are free through the Governor’s STEM Scholarship program. In addition, HVAC students—either in a CTE program or not—can earn up to 18 college credits while still in high school.

“Over the course of the 4 semesters, the students will pay just $1,000 for 18 college credits,” he said. “18 credits is almost one-third of the way toward an Associate’s degree here—there’s amazing value in that.”

For students (or parents) who may not necessarily think a career in HVAC is either exciting or cutting-edge, Curran said nothing could be further from the truth.

“It is extremely technical,” he said. “It’s definitely not turning wrenches. You have to have formal training—and a lot of it is computer-based.”

According to Curran, the Early College HVAC program at MCC is part of a larger academic pathway.

“After you earn an Associate’s degree, you can earn an advanced certificate to work on more complex equipment,” he said. “We also have an agreement with Southern New Hampshire University and Granite State College where someone can take 8 classes after that and get a BA in management…The majority of someone course, though, can be taken at MCC.”

Similar to the Running Start program in that students can earn college credits in high school, Early College differs in one important respect, as classes are taught by college professors on the MCC campus. In Running Start, another difference is that classes are taught by high school instructors.

“With Early College, you get the college experience and mentoring opportunities by college students,” added Curran. “We have also built into the HVAC program dedicated tutoring support so we can help students succeed and do well.”

As to the future of the program, Curran cited a need to engage in concerted outreach with one of his first forays into the larger educational community an upcoming guidance counselor breakfast on March 22 at MCC.

“It’s for high school counselors to inform them of the opportunities of Early College so they can share it with their schools and students,” he said.

Noting there are just 5 CTE programs in the state that offer an HVAC program, Curran said the need for technicians in NH has never been greater.

“With this program, MCC essentially becomes another CTE option for the high schools,” he said. “The cost of running a CTE HVAC program is very expensive for schools. Now, they don’t need a lab or a budget for it, because we can be that option for their students…We expect a lot of interest in this program.

For those with questions about the HVAC Early College Program, contact Curran at (603) 206-8041 or