HVAC Schools in Mobile, Alabama (AL)

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Mobile, Alabama (AL), was founded in the early 1700s as the capital of the French colony of Louisiana. By the 1800s, it was part of the Mississippi Territory, later becoming part of the Alabama Territory. These days, it’s a prosperous city that’s the second-largest city in Alabama. It’s the county seat of Mobile County and the center of the Mobile metropolitan area. It’s also part of the Mobile-Daphne-Fairhope Combined Statistical Area, one of Alabama’s largest statistical areas. Located on the Gulf Coast, the city is home to the Port of Mobile.

Mobile’s economy, originally dependent on cotton, is strong and stable. The Port continues to play a major role, providing “economic growth and job creation for the state of Alabama” and helping Mobile remain prosperous. Shipbuilding is another thriving industry, joined by the aerospace industry. Construction, healthcare, logistics, manufacturing, professional services, and retail trade all help keep the economy diversified. The many cultural attractions and historic sites attract visitors, supporting a busy tourist industry.

The Gulf of Mexico influences Mobile’s climate. The area receives copious rainfall, with October being the only month to receive less than four inches. Close to eight inches falls in July, and August experiences about seven inches during the month. Those two months are also the hottest, with average highs in the 90s F. The relative humidity for those two months averages 78 percent. No month drops below 70 percent, with April being the lowest month at 71 percent. Average daytime temps in the remaining summer months hover in the high 80s and the nighttime lows in the 60s and 70s. The winter months cool off to average highs of around 70 and average lows in the 40s. Temperatures drop to freezing only in record-setting years, and snow is a rarity. The area is subject to tropical storms and hurricanes.

The cooler winters and hot summers, coupled with the high humidity, mean that residents of Mobile rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. Healthcare facilities and industrial/manufacturing complexes often add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to improve climate control. The hospitality and entertainment venues and the retail businesses frequently add refrigeration for the comfort of their customers. Technology-related businesses often require specialized climate control systems and equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly. The museums and historic sites may also need specialized climate control installations to protect the artifacts.

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2023), 700 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in Mobile as of May 2022—the latest data available as of December 2023. The technicians and their employers receive resources and support from the following national, state, and local industry groups, among others:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Alabama Associated General Contractors (ALAGC)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • Associated Builders and Contractors of Alabama (ABC Alabama)
  • Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Alabama (APHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)
  • Subcontractors Association of Alabama (SubAla)
  • UA Plumbers, Steamfitters, and HVAC Technicians Local 119

These organizations work with others in the industry and with government organizations to establish educational, licensing, and performance standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Mobile, AL

New job opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continue to grow. The BLS (2023) anticipates an average of 37,700 new positions between 2022 and 2032. That’s a 6 percent increase in the nationwide demand for trained technicians, which is higher than the predictions for all other occupations. Projections Central expects an annual five percent increase nationwide, but their statistics are for 2020 to 2030 and reflect an average of 38,500 new positions.

The primary factor in the growth of the HVAC industry is the construction of new commercial and residential buildings. Secondly, renovating and remodeling existing buildings contribute significantly to new job opportunities, particularly in older cities like Mobile. Aging or obsolete climate control systems and equipment typically must be updated, retrofitted, or replaced. New industries, especially those based on technology and evolving regulations, occasionally require replacing systems in recently built structures. The emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction additionally contributes to industry growth.

Whether they need climate control for new structures or updated existing structures, many homeowners and businesses expect “smart” buildings. Installation of high-tech HVAC and HVAC/R systems is usually incorporated as part of improvements or new construction. The increasing complexity of contemporary climate-control equipment and systems requires trained technicians. Technicians in Mobile need superior troubleshooting abilities and proficiency with computers and electronics to obtain the best job opportunities.

If new construction declines, technicians specializing in installations in new buildings may occasionally experience unemployment. A decline is unlikely in the foreseeable future in Mobile as it is part of the “fastest-growing region in the United States.” Transportation systems, including air, highway, and rail, support the Port of Mobile, giving the area access to “customers, workers, the nation, and the world.”

Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment and systems rarely experience unemployment regardless of the economy, as the weather makes year-round climate control essential for businesses and homeowners.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Mobile, AL

As per the BLS (May 2022), HVAC mechanics and installers nationally earned an annual median salary of $51,390. Mobile technicians earned an annual median salary of $48,260. The wage difference isn’t as significant as it appears, as the 2023 cost of living in Alabama is significantly lower than in other American states.

BLS data for regional, state, and national HVAC professionals is as follows:

United States Alabama Mobile, AL
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 374,770 5,920 700
Average Annual Salary $57,460 $47,200 $50,040
10th Percentile $36,170 $29,740 $32,190
25th Percentile $44,100 $35,860 $37,690
50th Percentile $51,390 $46,460 $48,260
75th Percentile $65,630 $59 340 $60,180
90th Percentile $82,630 $64,810 $65,530

HVAC Apprenticeships in Mobile, AL

Traditionally, aspiring technicians sought employment as helpers and learned the trade through hands-on training. Few opportunities for untrained workers exist in today’s job market. Most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training gives workers increased job opportunities. They potentially start at higher wages and earn more throughout their career.

The Alabama Office of Apprenticeship provides information and resources for workers and employers. They emphasize registered apprenticeships and maintain an interactive database of opportunities. Apprenticeship Alabama also provides resources and has instituted a program offering tax credits to employers who hire apprentices.

UA Plumbers, Steamfitters, and HVAC Techs Local 119 offers a five-year HVAC apprenticeship at the Mobile Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (JATC).

Workers may participate in additional HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs through industry associations that include:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA)

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Mobile, AL

It’s essential that students who choose to attend a school select an accredited institution. Accreditation is a process by which an independent agency evaluates the program’s quality, including both the curriculum and the instructors. Two industry organizations accredit HVAC programs.

HVAC Excellence has awarded accreditation to the following schools:

  • Calhoun State Community College, Tanner, Al
  • J. F. Drake State Community and Technical College, Huntsville, AL
  • Lawson State Community College, Bessemer, AL
  • Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL

The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) has accredited the following:

  • Alabama Power Company (Utility Training Facility), Jasper, AL
  • Bevill State Community College, Sumiton, AL
  • Gadsden State Community College, Anniston, AL

All the industry-accredited schools would require lengthy commutes for Mobile students. However, due to their accreditation, Alabama Power Company and Lawson State Community College are included in the profiles below. Other reputable agencies have accredited the remaining profiled schools.

Alabama Power Company (Utility Training Facility)

The company provides HVAC training in a state-of-the-art center. Students gain hands-on skills in fully equipped labs, computer labs, and simulators. The labs include practice with heat pumps, geothermal and water heating, split systems, and brazing. Students also learn how to rewire systems, repipe refrigeration systems, and develop their troubleshooting skills. They complete classroom work that includes load calculations, duct design, RightSuite, duct board fabrication, and blower door and duct blower testing. Students are prepared for industry exams that include Alabama HVAC/R contractor, EPA Section 608, and NATE. They may also take the exams.

Mobile students who decide to commute for training may receive a discount at specified hotels.

  • Location: Jasper, AL
  • Accreditation: PAHRA
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,400 for each technical course. Fees for the exam review courses and the exams vary.
  • Estimated Program Length: Each course is stand-alone, and each takes approximately three days to complete.

Bishop State Community College

Bishop State offers three HVAC programs: an HVAC/R technology certificate; an HVAC/R technology degree with a minor concentration in business; and an HVAC/R technology degree with a minor concentration in electrical technology.

All programs are a combination of hands-on practice in the lab and classroom studies. Graduates of each program are qualified to seek entry-level employment as technicians.

The curriculum for the certificate program includes refrigeration principles, HVAC/R service procedures, refrigeration piping practices, principles of electricity, electrical circuits, electrical components, fundamentals of gas and electrical heating systems, residential air conditioning systems, ice machines, heat pump systems, commercial refrigeration, commercial air conditioning, and refrigerants or fundamentals of propane systems. They also complete general education coursework that includes student success, English composition, and a mathematics elective for a total of 54 credit hours to earn their certificate.

Students enrolled in either of the degree programs complete all the coursework in the certificate program. They also must select 12 additional hours of technical coursework from their concentration electives. They complete additional general education electives from humanities, natural science, and history, social, or behavioral science. They are awarded their degree after 76 credit hours.

  • Location: Mobile, AL
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $176 per credit
  • Estimated Program Length: Certificate one year; degree two years

Fortis College

Fortis, a privately owned institution, has four campuses in Alabama that offer an HVAC/R diploma program, including the Mobile campus. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on practice in a fully equipped lab. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment.

The curriculum includes an introduction to skilled professions, thermodynamics, electricity, HVAC/R controls, motors and motor controls, refrigerants, residential air conditioning, commercial air conditioning, industrial refrigeration, electric heat, heat pumps, gas heating systems, regional systems, HVAC system performance, water-based heating, HVAC troubleshooting and service calls, and EPA Section 608 certification preparation.

  • Location: Mobile, AL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
  • Estimated Tuition: $21,352
  • Estimated Program Length: One year

Lawson State Community College

Lawson offers two HVAC/R certificate programs and an HVAC/R degree program. All the programs combine classroom lectures with hands-on practice on industry-standard equipment. Graduates are qualified to seek employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

Curriculum for the short HVAC/R certificate program requires orientation, principles of refrigeration, and principles of electricity. Students then select 18 credit hours from the following electives: HVAC/R service procedures, refrigeration piping practices, fundamentals of gas heating systems, electric circuits, electrical components, computer-assisted HVAC troubleshooting, residential air conditioning, ice machines, mechanical/gas safety codes, basic drawing/blueprint reading, refrigerants, heat pump systems, special topics, HVAC apprenticeship/internship, review for contractors exam, commercial refrigeration, system sizing and air distribution, and troubleshooting. They receive their certificate after 25 credits.

Students in the full HVAC/R certificate program select 37 credits from the technical electives. They also must take the orientation, principles of refrigeration, and principles of electricity coursework. Additionally, they must complete general education electives that include English composition, career technical English, humanities and fine arts, natural science and mathematics, introductory computer skills, introduction to information systems, and microcomputer applications. They are awarded their certificate after 49 credits.

Students enrolled in the HVAC/R program must complete the full certificate program curriculum. The degree program includes an industrial electronics minor. Students select 12 credit hours from the following to meet the minor requirements: introduction to engineering technologies, commercial/industrial wiring, residential wiring, DC fundamentals, AC fundamentals, motor controls, principles of industrial mechanics, fundamentals of industrial hydraulics and pneumatics, PLCs, AC and DC machines, and blueprint reading for manufacturing. They receive their degree after 73 credits.

  • Location: Bessemer, AL
  • Accreditation: HVAC Excellence; Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $127 per credit
  • Estimated Program Length: Certificates vary, degree two years

Remington College Mobile Campus

Remington College has campuses in several states. The Mobile campus is a branch of the Dallas, TX, campus. They offer an HVAC diploma program to Mobile students. Coursework is divided equally between classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab.

The curriculum includes career development, refrigeration theory, fundamental HVAC maintenance, electricity, motors and motor control, residential heating, residential AC, air conditioning major components, commercial refrigeration systems, domestic appliances, cold water air conditioning, heat pumps, hydronic heating, ventilation and air flow, and hydronic systems. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment in the HVAC industry.

  • Location: Mobile, AL
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $14,565
  • Estimated Program Length: One year

Mobile students who are unable to attend one of the above schools may find that online institutions can meet their needs. Information on accredited online programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Mobile, AL

HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants must obtain Section 608 certification from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Certification involves passing an exam on working safely with refrigerants. Four types of certification are available, based on the type of systems on which the technicians work, as follows:

  • Type I – for servicing small appliances
  • Type II – for servicing or disposing of high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and motor vehicle air conditioning
  • Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal – for servicing all types of equipment

The EPA provides additional information on its website.

Technicians may obtain Section 608 testing and other training and certifications that increase their employability from industry organizations such as the following:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
  • HVAC Excellence

Further information and details are available on the HVAC certifications page.

Technicians who want to become HVAC or HVAC/R contractors must be licensed by the Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors. They may be licensed as either a heating and air conditioning contractor or as a refrigeration contractor. Applicants must first pass a licensing exam. Technicians who have completed an apprenticeship or an educational program must submit proof of completion. Technicians who have not obtained formal training must submit proof of a minimum of 3,000 hours of experience under the supervision of an HVAC/R licensee. Applicants must also submit proof of citizenship or they are legally in the country. They must disclose any criminal history.

The completed application must be accompanied by proof of a $15,000 performance bond and all applicable fees. Licenses must be renewed annually. Renewal requires four hours of continuing education and applicable fees. Contractors holding valid licenses from Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, or West Virginia may apply for Alabama licensing by reciprocity if they have held the license for a specified number of years.

The City of Mobile requires all businesses within the city limits to obtain a city business license. Licenses must be renewed annually.

As licensing guidelines are subject to change by regulatory agencies, HVAC professionals are encouraged to ensure they have all necessary state and local licenses before beginning any projects.

Sandra Smith

Sandra Smith was introduced to the HVAC industry when she worked as a bookkeeper and secretary for a small air-conditioning contractor. She eventually became a CPA and started her own practice specializing in small business taxes and accounting. After retiring from business, she began writing articles for newspapers, magazines, and websites. She also authored four books. Sandra makes her home in the mountains with a rescue dog that naps on her lap as she writes.