KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- After serving in the United States Army for nine years, Jake Carmack was looking for a new path. He took a class in basic refrigeration at what was then the Kansas City, Kansas Area Vocational Technical School (AVTS) in 1980.
Carmack had been a technician in the major appliance repair field for a number of years when an opportunity presented itself to apply for an instructor position at the same school.
“I always enjoyed teaching and the idea of becoming an instructor was a happy opportunity for me,” said Carmack, the current Major Appliance Technology instructor at Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Dr. Thomas R. Burke Technical Education Center (KCKCC-TEC). That was eight years ago and Carmack has enjoyed instructing a number of successful students as well as serving as a coordinator for the school’s Skills USA competitions.
“What I like about it (major appliance repair) is the freedom of the job. It is not tied to any one building, and you can move about throughout your day,” he said. “You do not have anyone looking over your shoulder, and you can go out and do your thing. I also like all the interesting people I get to meet.”
KCKCC-TEC is currently enrolling students in the Major Appliance Technology program for the autumn semester. The goal is to prepare students for entry-level positions on major in-home appliances as well as commercial restaurant equipment repair. Students receive instruction on appliances ranging from refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers to washing machines, dryers, microwaves and kitchen ventilation. Among the courses in the program are Principles of Combustion, Electrical and Mechanical Safety, Top and Front Load Washers- Domestic/Commercial, Fundamentals of Refrigeration and Commercial Walk-in/Reach-in Freezers/Coolers. There are also some evening classes in Major Appliance Repair available at KCKCC-TEC.
“What I enjoy about teaching the most is helping students obtain a skill that makes them marketable and gives them value,” Carmack said. “They get respect in the workplace from their employer, and it gives them self-esteem.”
Carmack said graduates of KCKCC-TEC’s program can move onto positions in a variety of places, from domestic and commercial appliance repair to industrial laundry work such as in a hotel or hospital. He said some graduates even go into appliance sales.
“One graduate always comes to mind, Michael Florence. He came (to KCKCC-TEC) as a high school student. He got good grades, finished senior year and came back in the fall (going on to get a full certificate),” he said. “He then went to work for At-Your-Service Appliance Repair and rode around with them for about three months. At 20-years-old, he was a full-time employee and remained living with his parents. On his 21st birthday, he closed on an $85,000 home in Leavenworth, Kansas. He still works for that same company and is in one of the top positions.”
Carmack said demand is growing for the type of training students receive in the Major Appliance Technology program and that translates into good job prospects for graduates. Starting salary for technicians in this field begins at $40,000 and up. According to Richard Piper, Director of Technical Programs, within the last six weeks, KCKCC-TEC was contacted by five employers searching for major appliance technicians.
“There are not enough employees to fill the demand. All of the appliances in all the houses in all the neighborhoods - there is an enormous amount of work to be done,” Carmack said. “It is the same way all over America. Anyone who finishes this program can get a job within two weeks.”
In May, Carmack received his Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational and Technical Education from Pittsburg State University. Given an opportunity, Carmack would welcome speaking engagements to discuss the Major Appliance Repair program and all the potential this program holds for students.
For more information about KCKCC-TEC’s Major Appliance Repair program or to schedule a speaking engagement, visit the KCKCC-TEC website at www.kckcc.edu/academics/TEC or contact Elizabeth Folsom at 913-288-7803.