AUBURN — Central Maine Community College is adding two degree programs for jobs that the state calls in-demand and paying an average wage of nearly $24 an hour: plumbing and heating technology; and heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

“They offer multiple opportunities – people can be self-employed, work for larger companies, work for contractors, they’re portable,” Roger Philippon, dean of planning and public affairs, said Monday. “It seemed to be the right time for us to offer these programs.”

The college hasn’t had either two-year degree in the past, he said. It received $750,000 from the Maine Community College System, earmarked for workforce development, to start those two programs, along with facilities maintenance and building automation, still in development.

They’ve gotten requests for both plumbing and HVAC offerings.

“It’s one of those fields where a lot of the professionals that are out in the field right now are getting older,” Philippon said. “Retirements expect to be increasing. These are jobs you can’t really export or send overseas – you’ve got to do that work right here.”

The Criminal Justice Lab will move from its spot in Jalbert Hall to make way for a new, state-of-the-art lab for the two new programs, including equipment for training and simulations. Philippon said the lab is still being designed.

They’re hoping to enroll up to 20 students in both programs each year. CMCC is taking applications for the first class this fall. Both can be pursued as a one-year certificate or two-year associate degree.

Students in plumbing and heating will learn building codes, working with pumps and wells, and reading blueprints. Students in HVAC will learn refrigeration principles and about working with heat pumps, propane and natural gas, diagnosing issues, and reading blueprints.

After one year, plumbing students can sit for the journeyman-in-training license and HVAC students can pursue EPA 608 Universal Certification, Philippon said.

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