Grad Spotlight: Hesperia graduate Darci Elsenraat breaks gender stereotypes in HVAC
According to this Women of HVAC article, in 2018 only 1.4% of HVAC technicians were female. That equates to only 5,275 of the 376,800 HVAC mechanic and installer jobs in the country as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Darci Elsenraat is now one of those women and began working in the HVAC field even before her graduation in May 2021 from the Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program at SJVC Hesperia.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am 31 years old and grew up with all brothers in Kansas. My dad used to work on water heaters and cars and stuff like that and so I was always watching him. He never asked me to fix anything; he would always get the boys to do it.
When my dad recently found out that I became an HVAC technician, he said ‘if I would’ve known you were interested, I would have asked you to jump on and fix things.’ But I was always watching, and I was always paying attention with interest to what he and my brothers were doing. Those memories helped me decide to go into HVAC.
Have you always been interested in HVAC?
I was always a little bit interested in fixing stuff. I worked for Amazon in a warehouse for five years and one day I sat down and said, ‘I can’t do warehouse work for the rest of my life.’ I Googled the top 5 growing careers and (at the time) HVAC was number five. I looked up HVAC and was like, ‘oh I could do that.’ Then I found SJVC and signed up a week later.
What do you have to say regarding women going into HVAC?
I want more women going into the field. It’s (predominantly) men. It’s hard work—you’re going to be lifting heavy stuff—but it would be great to see more women in HVAC. The advice I would give to women is don’t listen to the guys. Just do your own thing. Some guys in HVAC think they know everything. So, it’s just like, ‘ok, you’re cool, whatever.’ (laughs)
Please tell us about your current work.
I work for West Country Heating and Air. Lately, I have been doing residential and some industrial work. The other day I went to Fort Irwin through a subcontractor. They had a Humvee that needed to be fixed and that was one of the coolest things that I’ve worked on. Typically, we don’t work on vehicles, but I was requested to go down there and work on it.
What do you enjoy most about your average workday?
HVAC is so much fun for me. I probably enjoy being outside the most. I was at Amazon for 5 years stuck inside a building and now I’m up on roofs, seeing these beautiful views. It feels like freedom to me but I’m also working.
I love HVAC and could do it 24/7. I just absolutely love my career.
What do you want people to know about going to SJVC?
It’s (HVAC-R) a wonderful program. It’s a wonderful school. It helped me grow into the person that I am today.
I love the culture of the school. It is very friendly and supportive like a family with the trades. If anybody needs help, they are willing to help you. I would describe it as friendly-competitive.
Was there any advice you received that helped you get through school?
Focus on getting this done and you won’t have to worry about it for the rest of your life. Also, you’re going to be exhausted now but it’s for a better future. Anything worth having, you must work for.
Learn More About A Career In HVAC
Find out more about what an HVAC technician does, the education required to become a technician, HVAC salary possibilities and more facts you need to begin your HVAC technician training.
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