HVAC Training Schools in Alabama

Connect With HVAC Schools

In the Heart of Dixie, there is an impressive array of job opportunities and professional associations in the heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) field. In fact, Alabama (AL) boasts seven accredited HVAC programs, which is more than most US states, and several organizations that assist these workers in their jobs and educational endeavors. As proof of point, the Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Alabama describes itself as the “most progressive association of its kind in the nation” and offers training seminars, legal advocacy, discounts on insurance, a quarterly newsletter (The Alabama Contractor), and online continuing education (CE). The HVAC CE programs include a two-hour course on communication and a five-hour course on the gas code, both of which can be applied to maintaining professional credentialing in the industry.

The Subcontractors Association of Alabama, also known as SubAla, provides resources such as an electronic safety library, annual conventions, workers compensation funds, golf tournaments, and other exclusive member benefits. In sum, there is no shortage of support for HVAC workers in AL.

In Alabama, HVAC professionals are licensed by the Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors. As in any state, the job of an HVAC technician can include a wide array of different tasks and therefore requires a broad base of knowledge around HVAC systems and how they work. For instant, HVAC professionals must understand the theories behind HVAC equipment (e.g., basic refrigeration cycle, basic heating cycle, combustion, electron theory, single- & three-phase circuits, Ohm’s Law, air treatment etc.) in addition to knowing how to install, maintain, and troubleshoot HVAC/R systems and their parts. It is also worth noting that all HVAC professionals nationwide who handle refrigerants must achieve the EPA Section 608 certification.

This guide covers the opportunities for aspiring HVAC mechanics and installers across AL, including occupational growth expectations, salary prospects, accredited HVAC schools, and licensing procedures in Alabama.

Featured Online Programs

Penn

Take the first step towards your HVAC certification

Online HVACR Technician Career DiplomaRequest Info
Online Automotive HVAC Essentials Certificate Request Info
Online Solar Installation Skills - PV / ThermalRequest Info

Demand for HVAC Technicians in Alabama

HVAC is a high-growth and relatively lucrative industry, especially for an occupation requiring only one to two years of postsecondary training. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2017) projected a 15 percent growth rate in HVAC job openings nationwide between 2016 and 2026, more than double the average growth (7 percent) expected across all occupations during that time period. This rate is roughly the same for AL HVAC opportunities, as Projections Central (2017) reported an anticipated 13.6 percent increase in job openings in this field within the state. With the predicted addition of 685 fresh HVAC positions in AL and 48,800 openings nationwide, there is ample evidence that this is a promising profession in AL and across the country.

There are several reasons for the healthy employment outlook in HVAC. First, HVAC systems typically have a 10 to 15 year lifespan, after which they need to be replaced. Second, with the rise of manufacturer warranties and regular service contracts, these workers are generally guaranteed work throughout the year, even during the low seasons. Third, the growing interest in energy efficiency and evolving legislation contributes to a trend in retrofitting or upgrading old systems to be in compliance with new standards. Lastly, almost all new structures across the US have climate control systems, and as a result, areas of high construction generally have a high demand in this field, particularly for installation specialists.

The BLS (2017) notes that 64 percent of HVAC workers around the country were employed in plumbing, heating, and A/C contractors organizations. Also, while some HVAC mechanics and installers work regular business hours, others may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays during the high summer season in the Yellowhammer State, when demand for air conditioning services peaks.

It is important to point out that people the HVAC field incur a relatively high rate of injury and illness compared to other occupations. This is due to the physical nature of the work, which often requires the lifting of heavy objects, dealing with electrical wiring, soldering parts, and handling refrigerants, all work-related activities that come with risks. The threat of muscle tears, electrical shocks, or chemical burns can generally be kept to a minimum with the use of safety equipment and rigorous training standards.

Finally, as evidence of a thriving HVAC industry in Alabama, one need not look further than common job posting websites. For example, Indeed (Sept. 2018) had 340 HVAC job openings in AL, including opportunities at the University of Mobile, Springhill College, and Rheem Manufacturing Company, among others. Monster (Sept. 2018) had an additional 21 positions at organizations such as Advantage Resourcing and the City of Huntsville.

Alabama HVAC Salaries

As mentioned above, HVAC is a relatively well-paying industry, particularly for one requiring minimal post-secondary training. By illustration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) reported that there were 307,060 HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide with an average annual salary of $47,380 and the following percentiles:

United States of America (274,680 HVAC workers): $49,530 annual average salary

  • 10th percentile: $29,120
  • 25th percentile: $36,150
  • 50th percentile (median): $47,080
  • 75th percentile: $60,270
  • 90th percentile: $75,330

In hourly terms, these figures became:

USA: $23.81/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $14.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $17.38/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $22.64/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $28.98/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $36.22/hr.

Salary figures do vary slightly by source of data. Payscale—an aggregator of self-reported salaries—found the following percentiles among its 879 HVAC respondents nationwide in September 2018:

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 25th percentile: $36,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,410
  • 75th percentile: $56,000
  • 90th percentile: $71,000

The hourly wages report to Payscale (4,809 respondents) work out to be as follows:

  • 10th percentile: $13.00/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.00/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $19.24/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $24.00/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $30.00/hr.

The BLS figures are generally considered more reliable due to the organization’s methods of data collection and relatively high sample size. Regardless of the source, HVAC workers in Alabama had lower salaries than the national averages. That said, it is important to keep in mind that AL is also one of the cheapest states in which to live, and therefore less money goes further. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2018) found that AL was the fifth most affordable state in the country, boasting savings in housing and healthcare relative to other regions.

Indeed (Aug. 2018) reported that HVAC workers in AL had an annual average salary of $16.98 per hour, which was 21 percent lower than the average for all HVAC professionals in the U.S. The BLS (May 2017) found a slightly lower mean salary in the Heart of Dixie. Here were the percentiles among the 5,040 HVAC workers in AL:

Alabama (4,660 HVAC workers): $40,970 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $26,150
  • 25th percentile: $32,300
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,850
  • 75th percentile: $49,820
  • 90th percentile: $60,760

Translated into hourly figures, these salaries equated to:

AL: $19.70/hr. average

  • 10th percentile: $12.57/hr.
  • 25th percentile: $15.53/hr.
  • 50th percentile (median): $18.68/hr.
  • 75th percentile: $23.95/hr.
  • 90th percentile: $29.21/hr.

Not surprisingly, these salaries also varied by region within AL as well. In fact, while Birmingham employed the most HVAC workers in the state, Decatur was the top-paying metropolitan region. Here were the numbers of HVAC workers employed, average salaries, and wage percentiles among the 13 BLS-designated areas of Alabama for which data was available as of 2017:

Anniston-Oxford-Jacksonville, AL (70 HVAC workers): $29,530 average annual salary

  • 10th percentile: $21,340
  • 25th percentile: $23,390
  • 50th percentile (median): $27,300
  • 75th percentile: $31,560
  • 90th percentile: $45,750

Auburn-Opelika, AL (200 employed): $39,770 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,320
  • 25th percentile: $35,500
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,360
  • 75th percentile: $45,680
  • 90th percentile: $49,230

Birmingham-Hoover, AL (1,420 employed): $40,430 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $26,880
  • 25th percentile: $33,170
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,030
  • 75th percentile: $49,230
  • 90th percentile: $60,350

Decatur, AL (170 employed): $51,010 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $31,350
  • 25th percentile: $38,950
  • 50th percentile (median): $50,580
  • 75th percentile: $65,370
  • 90th percentile: $74,610

Dothan, AL (120 employed): $41,850 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $29,350
  • 25th percentile: $33,520
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,860
  • 75th percentile: $48,400
  • 90th percentile: $61,990

Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL (120 employed): $37,420 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $25,990
  • 25th percentile: $29,620
  • 50th percentile (median): $35,680
  • 75th percentile: $43,930
  • 90th percentile: $54,780

Huntsville, AL (520 employed): $39,450 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,240
  • 25th percentile: $33,660
  • 50th percentile (median): $38,430
  • 75th percentile: $45,700
  • 90th percentile: $51,280

Mobile, AL (540 employed): $42,640 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $27,180
  • 25th percentile: $31,300
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,530
  • 75th percentile: $52,160
  • 90th percentile: $63,230

Montgomery, AL (500 employed): $43,220 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $22,300
  • 25th percentile: $31,740
  • 50th percentile (median): $44,190
  • 75th percentile: $56,550
  • 90th percentile: $62,370

Northeast Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area (330 employed): $44,610 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $28,310
  • 25th percentile: $32,410
  • 50th percentile (median): $40,590
  • 75th percentile: $55,580
  • 90th percentile: $68,850

Northwest Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area (170 employed): $31,790 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $19,000
  • 25th percentile: $26,260
  • 50th percentile (median): $29,460
  • 75th percentile: $35,400
  • 90th percentile: $49,270

Southeast Alabama Nonmetropolitan Area (110 employed): $36,560 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $23,990
  • 25th percentile: $31,100
  • 50th percentile (median): $36,560
  • 75th percentile: $41,720
  • 90th percentile: $48,340

Tuscaloosa, AL (340 employed): $45,470 avg.

  • 10th percentile: $32,130
  • 25th percentile: $36,550
  • 50th percentile (median): $45,350
  • 75th percentile: $55,440
  • 90th percentile: $61,260

Accredited HVAC Schools in Alabama

Prior to seeking HVAC employment in Alabama, candidates must receive the proper training. Some aspiring HVAC technicians enroll in apprenticeship programs, which last from three to five years, and generally pay on a sliding scale as a person gains more experience. Alabama apprenticeship programs typically have coursework in areas such as automated HVAC controls; motors; system maintenance; cold water air conditioners & domestic appliances; electricity basics; and industrial & commercial refrigeration systems.

Other aspiring HVAC workers choose instead to enroll in an accredited training program. There seven of these approved institutions in AL. The main accreditation entities in the country are HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), and prospective students are encouraged to check out those websites or the HVAC programs homepage to learn more about the accreditation process.

As of September 2018, there were four programs in AL accredited by HVAC Excellence. J. F. Drake State Community & Technical College of Huntsville offers an associate of applied technology (AAT) degree and a career skills certificate in heating & air conditioning. In its competitive AAT program, students receive hands-on technical knowledge in the fundamentals for an entry-level HVAC position in the state. Not including books, the 72-credit degree program costs $10,008, and the 29-credit career skills certificate costs $4,031.

Wallace State Community College of Hanceville also offers AAS and certificate programs in HVAC/R. The 72-credit AAS program has coursework in refrigerant transition & recovery; principles of electricity; refrigerant piping practices; HVAC/R service procedures; electrical components; microcomputer applications; fundamentals of electric heat; heat pump systems; gas heating systems; and more. All programs at this institution cost $129 per credit hour.

Calhoun Community College of Tanner offers students an AAS degree in applied technology with a major in industrial maintenance/air conditioning & refrigeration. CCC’s air conditioning & refrigeration short certificate provides instruction in refrigeration piping practices; thermal electrical principles; and principles of electricity for HVAC/R, among others. The third program, an advanced air conditioning & refrigeration certificate includes units in heat pump systems; system sizing & air distribution; and residential air conditioning. For in-state students, these programs cost $119 per credit hour; for out-of-state students, it costs $238. Please note that these estimates do not include additional program fees.

There are also three PAHRA-accredited programs in AL such as the AAS degree in air conditioning & refrigeration at Bevill State Community College of Sumiton. This rigorous program has classes in HVAC/R service procedures; electrical components; heat load calculations; mechanical & gas safety codes; and commercial refrigeration. The 33-credit long term and 28-credit short term certificates in the same field have similar coursework. These programs also cost either $129 (in-state) or $258 (out-of-state) plus fees.

Additional accredited HVAC programs in AL are available at Gadsden State Community College (Anniston), Alabama Power Company (Verbena), and Lawson State Community College (Birmingham).

Finally, for residents of more rural regions of AL or those with non-flexible time commitments, attending an on-campus program may prove challenging. Fortunately, there are also quality e-programs in HVAC available. To learn about the distance-based schools in this field, check out the online HVAC programs page.

Alabama HVAC Licensing & Certification

In addition to attending an HVAC school in Alabama, aspiring workers in this high-growth career are expected to seek all necessary credentialing prior to beginning work.

First, there are several national certifications available. As mentioned in the introduction, all HVAC professionals nationwide who handle environmentally sensitive refrigerants must get the EPA Section 608 certification of which there are four subtypes: type 1 (small appliance), type 2 (high-pressure appliances), type 3 (low-pressure appliances), and type 4 (universal). Most HVAC/R programs include EPA 608 exam preparation as part of their program.

Other national credentialing authorities and sample certifications include:

To discover how to achieve these and other HVAC credentials, please visit the HVAC certifications page.

Second, Alabama HVAC workers must ensure that they have all necessary regional licenses as well. According to the State of Alabama Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Act  (Section 34-31-24), only certified contractors can advertise HVAC services in the state. The main credentialing authority is the Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors, which notably also issues registrations to all apprentices in this field. AL offers two types of contractor licenses, which are both $165 annually:

  • Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Refrigeration

In addition to submitting a completed application, candidates are expected to:

  • Pass a comprehensive examination
  • Submit either proof of two years of apprenticeship or completion of a qualifying training program
  • Send in proof of at least 3,000 hours (18 months) of work experience under a licensed HVAC/R worker
  • Performance Bond of at least $15,000
  • Pay an exam fee ($150)

Please note that Alabama has HVAC licensure reciprocity with three states: Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee.

To maintain these one-year licenses, contractors must complete a renewal application and submit proof of four hours of continuing education (CE) annually. Above all, HVAC professionals in AL are encouraged to reach out to municipal authorities to ensure that they have all necessary credentialing prior to beginning work.