NY Tech Making Her Own Path
ICM continues its interview series
chatting with a member of the "Next
Generation" in the industry. This
time we met with Lianna Faber who
shares with us her somewhat unusual
journey to become a NORA Certified
Technician and is now working in
the field providing homeowners with
Faber: I always knew I wanted to
do something different. I have older
siblings, one of them is a teacher and
one is becoming a human resources
manager. They chose to go to college;
I always knew I wanted to make my
own footprints, take my own path. It’s
funny how it happened—I was looking
into different trades but I wasn’t sure
what I wanted to do. I found a card for
the Electrical Training Center (ETC),
which is a tech school here on Long
Island NY. It planted a seed in my
head. I went to the school, checked it
out and signed up for the electrical
program. We had a class called the All
Trades for both electrical and HVAC
students. One of the teachers said,
There is electrical in HVAC, but there’s
no HVAC in electrical and that’s what
directed me to HVAC. At the time, I
knew nothing, nothing at all about
trades. I thought, Let’s try this, let’s
see where it takes me. I switched to
the HVAC class. I remember asking
my teacher, I don’t want to sound
stupid, but what does HVAC even stand
for? I didn’t know it was for heating,
ventilation and air conditioning.
I was 19, right out of high school.
I was one of the younger ones there.
ICM: Not only were you one of the
younger ones, but how many women
Faber: Most of the young women,
if we had any, were in the electrical
program. I was the only one in the
HVAC class. I had a couple of teachers
telling me that I was the first woman
in the HVAC program in about 10 or
12 years. Women make up about 2.6%
of those in the field for HVAC in the
U.S. There are not a lot. There are a
lot more electrical girls.
ICM: Were there any obstacles? How
did you find the reception from the
other students and the instructors?
Faber: I have to give my teachers
credit for all the support I received
from the school. They were very
encouraging. They were very excited
to have a woman in their class. The
guys kind of tried to tone down their
bad language, but I didn’t care how
they spoke. I said, You can do what you
want. I have brothers, I hang around
guys. They were respectful.
ICM: How long was the program?
Faber: I took day classes, which
was a little bit shorter than night
classes—about seven months. It was
a 600-hour program. I had a little bit
of financial aid that helped me, and I
was working while I went to school.
ICM: In addition to advancing from
ETC, you are also a National Oilheat
Research Alliance (NORA) Bronze
Technician Certified. How did you hear
about NORA’s oilheat certifications?
Faber: I learned about NORA from
my teachers. When they told us we
were going to prepare for the NORA
Bronze Exam, I thought, Great, another
certification I could put on my resume.
You can only better yourself.
ICM: Did you know anything about
oil heating before?
Faber: I knew nothing. I didn’t even
know how to hold a wrench. I didn’t
know the difference between a flat
head and a Phillips screwdriver.
ICM: The classes, the NORA prep and
exam was your first exposure?
Faber: Yes, I learned it all from
NORA—that was my first experience
with oil heat.
ICM: Oilheat is a very specific subset
of HVAC; did you feel prepared to pass
the NORA exam?
Faber: I thought the teachers were
very thorough and I definitely felt
prepared. They had us take practice
tests. We read the textbook and they
answered questions. They did a really
good job preparing us.
ICM: You graduated and got your
NORA Bronze certification. You also
earned your other certification from the
school. Then you needed to get a job?
Faber: Getting a job was really difficult.
I called a few companies and I guess
they heard my female voice and just
didn’t take me seriously. I actually
got laughed at by two companies. So,
it was kind of rough. I finally got an
interview, which was very exciting. I
was applying for HVAC technician. I
wanted to learn, I wanted to be in the
field, but they offered me a job in the
office. I couldn’t believe it.
16 ICM/September/October 2022