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Danville Community College students enter workforce fast through technical degree

By Justin Ward, jward@wdbj7.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:45:18 AM EST
Updated On: Oct 10 2013 06:59:58 PM EDT

One of those programs is packing classrooms at Danville Community College and it's students are sought after by employers.

DANVILLE, Va. -

"There are good jobs out there. Good paying jobs."

Those are encouraging words from Mark Bryant, an instructor in Danville Community College's HVAC program, which stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. It's a two year technical degree.

The program attracted students like Tyron Graves, who also works a 40-hours-a-week job.

"I'm working 40 hours, and I still go to school, so they'll work with you," Graves said.

He and his classmates are packed into two classrooms and learning about circuits in refrigerators, heat pumps, and furnaces.

"It's a little bit of everything. It's electrical, plumbing, it's a lot of physics," Graves said.

He's part of one of the most popular programs at Danville Community College; H-VAC, or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning.

"They can spend, you know, two years here and in our program and go out and usually make more money than a person with a four year degree," Bryant said. "Not everybody is suited to go to a four year college."

Instructors say Danville Community College's two year technical degree is one of the few in Virginia with a diploma in HVAC.

In the last five year class sizes jumped from around 10 students to more than 20.

Starting out in Danville, recent graduates are making 10 to 12 dollars an hour with opportunities for raises. Instructors say the sky is the limit.

"Guys can go to Greensboro or Raleigh and make probably three, four, five dollars more an hour than they can in this area," Bryant said.

If they want to stay local, companies like Superior Heating and Air Conditioning in Danville are usually where they end up.

"Most cases I do go to DCC and talk to the instructors and get feedback about the students that are in that class. And I start there first," said John Walden, who owns Superior. The company installs and repairs heating, cooling and ventilation units for homes and businesses.

He's a graduate of the H-VAC program at DCC and had the chance to go to a four year college, but chose a two year technical degree instead.

"I don't see it going away," Walden said. "There is always going to be a demand for heating and cooling. Customers do not like to be warm, they do not like to be cold."

That's welcoming words for those second year students who plans to walk across the stage at graduation with a diploma and job on the other side.

"The last couple of years I think most of the guys have been getting a job. They have really good job placement," Graves said.