Craig Warnasch has worked in HVAC industry since age of 16
(ROSENBERG, Texas) – When he was 16 years old, Craig Warnasch got summer employment at a heating and air conditioning company to appease his parents — who told him he needed to “stop farming and get a job.” He was actually gaining his first experience in a lifelong career.
He just might not have immediately realized it at the time.
Now, the alumnus of Texas State Technical College and instructor of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology at the college is encouraging his own students to start their careers early.
“I try to tell these guys, ‘Hey, you’re young. Find something that’s going to be long term,’” Warnasch said. “It’s a good field. You can find good careers in it. I’ve had 15 years doing that.”
Warnasch stuck with his first HVAC job, which was at Custom Comfort Air in Rosenberg, through high school, working as he could after school and throughout the summers. During his senior year, he discovered that he could enroll at TSTC for dual credit, attending class in the mornings and working in the afternoons.
After gaining more experience at different positions, Warnasch returned to TSTC to apply for a maintenance position. Walking out of the building afterward, he ran into his former instructor, Keith Klix, who pushed him to apply instead to fill an open HVAC instructor role.
That was in 2017, and Warnasch has taught at TSTC ever since.
“At first, I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know if I could do this,” he said. “Now I love it. I love teaching. I love giving back to the students.”
For Warnasch, the lessons go beyond the classroom.
“You have this bond with these students,” he said. “You’re not just teaching them — you’re helping them build a career. It’s more than just HVAC. I help them (learn) about life.”
Warnasch draws on his experience at TSTC, in the industry and as a single father to help his students succeed at college and beyond.
“You come here, you learn something you can use for the rest of your life,” he said. “In HVAC, you learn more than air conditioning.”
TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC Technology, an HVAC Technician certificate of completion and a Basic HVAC occupational skills award.
In Texas, HVAC mechanics and installers can earn an average of $48,030 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These positions are expected to grow by 16% through 2028, according to onetonline.org.
The career can be even more lucrative in commercial air conditioning, Warnasch added — with the caveat of long hours and hard work.
“Money is always there,” he said. “Time you cannot replace. You have to find something you love doing.”
HVAC Technology is one of TSTC’s Performance-Based Education programs. In PBE programs, students have the opportunity to self-direct their education in a blend of online and in-person learning. The result is learning at a flexible pace and a class schedule that works in complement to students’ lives outside of TSTC.
“A lot of our students have to work,” Warnasch said. “They can work an eight-hour day and still come into school.”
The PBE nature of the HVAC program goes to show TSTC’s commitment to breaking down the barriers that might be in the way of earning degrees.
“They’re always trying to make it better for our students,” Warnasch said.
Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.