What Is Your Why? Weatherization Professionals Tell Their Career Stories

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Interviews with four real professionals working in various weatherization roles across the U.S.

What Is Your Why? Weatherization Professionals Tell Their Career Stories

There are dozens of reasons to start a career in weatherization. Whether you like working with your hands, enjoy solving technical problems, or want to help households save energy and make a real impact on people’s lives, the perks of weatherization are abundant! Not only that, but these jobs typically come with free on-the-job training and nationally recognized certifications. 

We interviewed four real professionals working in various weatherization roles across the U.S., asking them why they chose weatherization and why they love what they do.

What will be your why?

Dusniel Alvarez, Housing and Energy Director | Georgia

A Career That Grows

Dusniel Alvarez was looking for stable work that allowed him to apply his hands-on skills with tools and equipment. When he applied to become a home energy professional in 2006, he realized the job would grow into something so much more.

Dusniel began his weatherization journey as a Retrofit Installer Technician installing home energy efficiency upgrades, and worked his way up to become a Housing and Energy Director, a position that allows him to coordinate production between several programs.

“I enjoy construction, but with weatherization, you get to see an impact directly on the client—whether it’s a little old lady, a single mom—you get to come into their house and see what your work has done,” said Dusniel. “You get to see the effects of your work right away—that’s what I like, that’s why I enjoy my job.”

Across the U.S., millions of homes were built before energy-efficient buildings were common, leaving today’s households with both health risks and heightened costs. Inefficient homes expose residents to a variety of conditions that negatively affect health, including poor indoor air quality with mold and dust that contribute to allergies and asthma; too cold or too hot temperatures; increased pests; and greater risk of exposure to the elements.

Weatherizing homes—the act of modifying buildings to optimize energy efficiency and protect interiors from the elements—saves families money and improves their health and safety. Dusniel found that sometimes, it even helps save lives. 

Dusniel said he and his crew visited an older woman who was complaining of having difficulty staying awake in her home. Immediately when he visited, Dusniel could smell gas and discovered that her stove had a severe leak.

“That is one story I like to think of because us being there at that moment saved that lady’s house,” Dusniel said. “[Weatherization] will not lead to you doing things for just money, but it will lead to you feeling fulfilled—mentally, spiritually—because you will see the people who you’re helping.”

Salina Colon, Senior Program Manager | Illinois

A Career That’s More Than a Job

Salina Colon, Senior Program Manager, started her weatherization journey in 2010 while performing office work with a contractor. 

There are myriad opportunities in the weatherization field, Salina said. Not only that, but employers typically provide funding for education, and your certification can be taken anywhere you want to go in the U.S. 

“Most of us go into a job because it’s a need, but this isn’t just a job, it’s a career,” Salina said. “You can start from the very beginning, and end up maybe even being the director of an organization, or maybe you want to open your own company.”

Along with the competitive pay and benefits, paid on-the-job training, and nationally recognized certifications, Salina also loves that she feels like she’s making a real difference.

“In the business that we do, we can affect peoples’ homes, and we can affect their health,” Salina said. “I get feedback from clients about how we’re changing their lives.”

Marcy Mulholland-Chandler, Senior Instructional Designer | Illinois

There’s a Place For Your Talents

Marcy Mulholland-Chandler began her career in higher education. Looking for a change, she decided to become an Instructional Designer for the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program back in 2004.

Marcy said she found weatherization to be interesting because it’s important work that most people don’t even think about.

“It was an eye-opener to find out how a house was a system and how all the mechanicals work,” she said. “Weatherization is one of my favorite things to talk about because you’re looking beyond those walls and under those floors. It can be beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside.”

Low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by energy burden—meaning they spend a much greater proportion of their income on energy compared to the average household (sometimes three to four times more). They are also more likely to live in housing with heating problems and inadequate insulation. According to the Community Action Partnership, over 20 percent of low-income households have reported reducing or forgoing necessities such as food and medicine to pay an energy bill. 

Weatherization helps to reverse these inequities by lowering energy bills and freeing up household income for other necessities.

“We help so that your gas and light bill isn’t as high,” Marcy said. “If you want to feel good every day, if you truly have a passion to help people, I would take your talents and see where you fit in weatherization.”

Wayne Thompson, Program Director | Illinois

A Career That Gives Back

When Wayne Thompson started out in a weatherization job at age 15, he didn’t realize how much it would become a part of his life.

Working his way up the ladder since 1980, Wayne became a Crew Worker, Crew Leader, an Inspector/Assessor, and has been a Program Director since 2002, where he mentors other agencies throughout the state.

Through the years, Wayne said, he has been in many homes that weren’t fit to live in—for example, many houses he saw didn’t have heat or hot water. He loves working directly with families to see the immediate difference his work is making.

“What’s made me stay at the job for 44 years is simply the help we’re bringing to people,” Wayne said. “The perks that come with the job is just seeing the joy from little children’s faces, the elderly—knowing that you’re helping keep these folks in their homes—it’s very rewarding.”

Stay tuned for more Career Stories from weatherization professionals across the country coming soon.

What will be your career story? Your weatherization future awaits!