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A Different Way to Learn: Charter College

Everything about Charter College was different, according to HVAC grad Joseph Rea. He says he was a horrible student in high school, but in the Charter College Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Refrigeration Training program, Joe says he “enjoyed all my classes. I had a 3.87 grade average.”

According to Joe, those great grades were mostly because he wanted to be there.

“It’s what I decided I wanted to do,” says Joe. “It’s not just going to school because you were forced to. It’s adult school. The teachers aren’t mean and it’s not all about discipline. You get to hang out with people who become your friends. It’s more like a bar without alcohol where someone’s telling a great story and you’re learning from them.”

And Joe learned a lot of lessons that led to a flood of knowledge that changed his life.

He’d been a tow truck driver for 12 years but he says it wasn’t a good long-term career for him. Besides the fact that he wasn’t earning as much as he could, Joe correctly notes that it’s one of the most dangerous jobs out there. Dozens of drivers die every year.

Once he started working in HVAC, Joe doubled his hourly wage. Now he’s making even more and says there’s lots of opportunity to keep earning and learning.

“Now I have businesses paying me to go to school,” says Joe. “They see I understand the fundamentals of different systems and send me off to classes for different certifications. They send me off to learn new things. They’re investing in me.”

But first Joe had to invest in himself—not just money but also lots of time and effort. When he began the HVAC/R program, he was working crazy hours towing trucks, often on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He figured out how to attend class at night and Joe says most of his employers were willing to work with him to give him time off so he could make it to class.  And he’s glad he did. He says he always had a knack for doing maintenance work, figuring things out on his own, but the hands-on instruction he received from Charter College was what really did the trick.

“I could work on something and then ask questions,” says Joe, “and all the teachers had really good experience.”

Joe finished up in April 2017 and he says what he learned at Charter College “helped me snag a high paying, skilled labor job.” Currently he does HVAC install work in high rise buildings, but Joe considers himself more of a service technician. He likes solving problems and has always been good with his hands. He’s the go-to guy when his family and friends need help with broken equipment.

“My hobbies are all working on things, fixing things, but HVAC is my money,” says Joe. “It’s really satisfying to know that what you did fixed something. Really, I don’t work. I have a hobby and I get paid for it.”

If you like to work with your hands and are ready to commit to some hard work for a good reward, check out the HVAC/R program at Charter College. Joe says his decision to become an HVAC student changed his whole life.