Looking for a career—not just a job, but a fulfilling career where you can immediately see the impact you are having on the big picture?

Heating ventilation and air conditioning or refrigeration repair might be exactly what you are looking for.

Employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statics. Commercial and residential building construction will drive employment growth.

In the past four years, more and more positions are open in the construction trades, which include qualified, trained HVAC technicians and refrigeration technicians, according to a recent CBS Sunday Morning report.

For every skilled worker entering the workforce, five are retiring, stated the report. This will leave a very large gap in the trades’ workforce.

“We have companies that will literally stand in line and wait to interview (students) and offer them jobs,” said Kurt Adam, assistant superintendent at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the report.

There are 6.2 million jobs available in the trades right now in the United States, according to Mike Rowe, founder of mikeroweWORKS, a foundation that promotes education in the trades and serves as a staunch advocate for developing a skilled trade workforce.

PBS reports New Jersey has a blue collar skills gap of 15 percent, meaning there are not enough skilled workers to fill open positions.

Students who enter the United Association of New Jersey Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Division Edward R. Gehm Training Center for HVAC refrigeration training begin their career with a job. The lynchpin of the program is 1,800 hours of hands-on training with a skilled HVAC technician or refrigeration technician working for a New Jersey contactor. Students, called apprentices, learn while they earn at a job in the trades.

Apprenticeships, such as the ones offered by the four HVAC and refrigeration locals in New Jersey, are one way to address the blue collar skills gap and give students a way to earn while they learn.

The four HVAC locals in New Jersey work together to offer a comprehensive, industry-leading training program for HVAC and refrigeration technicians.

Completing the 9,000-hour program, which is mostly composed of hand-on training, takes five years. Each year there are 1,800 hours in the field, accompanied by a skilled journeyman, with some classroom training. The union training program is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and curriculum exceeds DOL standards.

Click here to connect with your nearest HVAC local and learn more about educational opportunities offered.