Aidan Gould rotated

How the FastForward program helped Aidan find a career in plumbing

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published online on Laurel Ridge Community College’s website. You can see the original article here.

Aidan Gould enjoyed the hands-on training he received at Laurel Ridge, and he couldn’t seem to get enough. That’s when he decided to go back to school to earn an associate degree and two more trade skills to his belt.

After graduating from high school in 2014, Gould, who was homeschooled and grew up in Hume, Va., wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.

“But, I knew I wanted to own some kind of business or businesses,” he said.

That led to Gould enrolling at Laurel Ridge, with the vague idea of working in a fitness-related career. However, after graduating with his associate degree in business in 2016, Gould turned around and came back to Laurel Ridge, this time to study a trade.

“There was a plumber who had been plumbing in Fauquier County for about 30-plus years,” said Gould.

That plumber, Terry Golightly, inspired him to enroll in Laurel Ridge Workforce Solutions’ plumbing program, where he completed all four levels. Gould was able to use FastForward funding to pay for the programming. And like Gould, all students who qualify for FastForward pay just one-third or less of program costs, pending program completion, which is part of the pay-for-performance model.

“I was very impressed with the plumbing program,” Gould said. “They did a very good job teaching us the trade in a very hands-on way. I just had a great experience with the teachers. And, I am also very grateful to Mr. Golightly for whom I apprenticed.”

After completing the training, he took his journeyman’s exam and passed. But, even though he had completed his plumbing training, Gould wasn’t done with Workforce Solutions. He returned and did three more levels of electrical training.

Now a master plumber, Gould and two partners started Top Tier Trades in 2021.

Gould said his business degree has certainly come in handy as he runs his own trades business, and he is open to taking more classes at Laurel Ridge soon. He hopes to finish his fourth level of electrical programming while staying in touch with the college.

“We pay for our employees to get licensed through Laurel Ridge,” said Gould. “We are so busy, and we’re looking for certified plumbers. We’re growing faster than we can train people.”

In addition to FastForward funding, G3 funding – which covers all remaining tuition costs once scholarships and financial aid have been applied – can be used to pay for trades programs. Learn more at To explore trades programming at the college, visit