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Adult Education Heat Pump Class Promotes Entrepreneurship

Most will say that owning your own business is the American dream. TST BOCES Instructor Thom Mayo says it’s something his students can come to expect with a career in heat pump installation.

“A student could expect to start as an assistant installer making at a minimum $20-$25 dollars an hour,” said Mayo. “With a pinch of ambition, students who have completed my advanced course can expect to make six figures owning their own business or working in sales for an established business.”

But what exactly is heat pump instillation and how has it grown into the high-demand career it is today?

According to Mayo, a career in heat pumps installation, operation, maintenance, or sales is fundamental to the future of comfort.

“We are transitioning from the toxic fluid that is pumped into homes and businesses to clean renewable energy systems that heat and cool the built environment,” said Mayo. “Helping people to build the skills to displace this problem is very fulfilling.”

Mayo owns his own heat pump business and has seen first-hand the progression of building energy efficiency. His thirteen years of experience in renewable energy and HVAC systems combined with his time as a TST BOCES Facilities Electrician and as an Adult Education student is what led him to propose the heat pump class last year.

“I joined the Heat Smart Tompkins Board last January to access the support and resources to start the class at BOCES,” said Mayo. “As a business owner looking for qualified help installing renewable systems, I needed a pathway to skilled labor. I reached out to BOCES after joining the board and proposed the class.  I got buy-in right away, and it took about nine months to pull everything together.”

The beginner class Mayo teaches provides basic hands-on instruction and verification to an employer that various skills tests have been met and passed. Students who complete this course can expect to easily find work in the rapidly expanding market of clean heating systems. Students interested in gaining EPA certification will go on to take Mayo’s advanced course and take an exam.

Mayo is currently working with a member of the county legislature to get students local field experience and paid work installing heat pump systems in a new commercial space.

“My favorite part of the job is that I have one degree of separation when it comes to having my children know that I did my best to be a part of the solution to the biggest problem their generation will face,” said Mayo.