Derick Chandler, who is pursuing an associate degree in industrial maintenance at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus, also is participating in Mission: HVAC, a program started by Shurtape to help HVAC students gain experience and earn money for their education.

Job opportunities for heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians are expected to grow steadily in the coming years because industry analysts estimate that a shortage of about 20,000 qualified technicians will exist as Baby Boomers retire and fewer people enter the field.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment to grow 14 percent through 2024.

However, the cost of earning the required certifications to land a job in the field can be a challenge. That’s spurred the industry to be creative in attracting potential employees.

Derick Chandler of Columbus is a beneficiary of such creativity.

He was one of three students chosen for Mission: HVAC, a program created in 2015 by Shurtape, a producer of pressure-sensitive tapes. Shurtape selects three students nationally to complete 10 HVAC-themed missions and share their experiences via blog posts on shurtape.com. Upon the completion of all missions, each student is awarded $5,000 toward education to help them better prepare them for future employment.

The HVAC field has a lot to offer young professionals in terms of career path and job security, but those entering the field need a quality education to find an advantage, said Glenn Walter, product manager at Shurtape Technologies.

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2014, Chandler enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College in Columbus to pursue his associate degree in industrial maintenance.

Chandler said he is pursuing a job in the HVAC field because of his desire to help people and to work with his hands.

“There is a wide range to do in the field,” he said. “There’s commercial, industrial, residential and refrigeration. It even helps in car fields.”

Chandler spent several months home contacting local companies to get his foot in the door. Finally, Peterman Heating, Cooling and Plumbing gave him a chance. Chandler works there full-time as an apprentice.

Even with the job, he said that college is expensive.

“You don’t see many scholarships for HVAC, as it’s not as common a trade as nursing,” Chandler said.

Chandler stumbled across the Shurtape grant on Facebook. He quickly applied, although Chandler said he did not think he would get it.

The 10 missions, spread throughout the year, are designed so that the winners gain a more hands-on knowledge of the field. Each one requires them to research, interview and meet with HVAC professionals.

“They show you what it takes to get into an HVAC field,” Chandler said. “It definitely challenges you to become a little more knowledgeable about what you’re doing.”

His immediate plans are to complete all 10 missions and encourage people to try Mission: HVAC.

Chandler said he then plans to graduate from Ivy Tech and continue his education as far as he can.

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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5645.