HVAC Training Schools in Arizona: Degrees & Certifications

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In the Arizona (AZ) desert heat, an educated and professional HVAC technician is often the only person standing between a homeowner and another unbearable summer. It should come as no surprise that the concentration of HVAC technician employment in Arizona is considerably high with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019) reporting that the Phoenix metropolitan area has the sixth-highest concentration of HVAC technicians in the country. Temperatures can vary widely in Arizona — from the hot and dry heat of the summer to frigid desert nights in the winter. Without a reliable HVAC system, things can get not only uncomfortable but downright dangerous.

In order to take advantage of this widespread need for HVAC technicians in the Grand Canyon State, interested students should be prepared to dedicate themselves to their education and to find an approved training program. Those who have not yet mastered HVAC repair and installation may look to the many HVAC schools in Arizona offering thorough training in the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in the field.

Arizona HVAC technicians who have completed an HVAC training program may pursue a professional license from the state in order to begin working independently. HVAC technicians in Arizona may be licensed in either air conditioning and refrigeration, commercial refrigeration, or comfort heating, ventilating, and evaporative cooling. Each license has its own requirements, so keep reading to learn about occupational demand, salary predictions, and training opportunities in the state of Arizona.

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Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Arizona

The demand for HVAC technicians in Arizona is massive. In the US as a whole, the BLS predicts that demand for HVAC technicians will grow by 13 percent between 2018 and 2028. This growth rate means that there will be 46,300 more jobs in the field over just 10 years.

As alluded to above, the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ metropolitan area is among the top ten areas with the highest employment levels for this career, with 7,540 professionals employed in that area alone (BLS, May 2019).

HVAC professionals may work in a range of environments monitoring the performance of existing HVAC systems, performing routine maintenance, troubleshooting issues, and installing new systems in new or renovated buildings. HVAC jobs in Arizona may call for knowledge of various types of heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation systems such as geothermal, oil-burning, and electric. Certifications from national credentialing organizations such as North American Technician Excellence (NATE) or HVAC Excellence can also enhance an HVAC technician’s job candidacy.

Since many HVAC contracting companies perform regular maintenance on equipment for customers in Arizona and systems generally need to be replaced every ten years, there is a steady stream of employment. Furthermore, there are seasonal spikes in activity for Arizona HVAC workers during the sweltering summers so these professionals may be called upon to work evenings, weekends, or holidays to meet client demand.

There are HVAC opportunities available across all of the main job-hunting websites such as CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and others. As proof of point, Indeed (June 2020) posted more than 350 openings for HVAC workers. This kind of demand and employment density means this could be the ideal time to start an HVAC career.

Arizona HVAC Technician Salary Data

The BLS (May 2019) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $48,730 as of May 2019. Technicians in Arizona received an annual median salary of $45,280.

The table below is a comparison of national, and state salaries of HVAC professionals:

The BLS (May 2019) reported the following salary figures in Arizona:

United States Arizona
Number of HVAC professionals employed 342,040 9,600
Annual mean wage $51,420 $47,580
10th percentile $30,610 $31,260
25th percentile $37,660 $36,200
50th percentile (median) $48,730 $45,280
75th percentile $62,070 $57,090
90th percentile $77,920 $67,930

When reviewing any state or local salary data, it is important to consider the cost of living in that area. For instance, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2019), Arizona is ranked 28th in terms of affordability, making it about average, with the cost of utilities being somewhat higher (likely due to the aforementioned summer months).

HVAC Apprenticeships in Arizona

To become an HVAC technician, proper training is required. Some technicians choose to pursue an apprenticeship with a local labor union, such as the UA Local 469, based in Phoenix.

An apprenticeship allows for aspiring HVAC technicians to earn a salary (typically a percentage of their eventual union wage) while learning in a hands-on environment. HVAC apprenticeships are coupled with classroom learning for a well-rounded experience and excellent employment prospects upon completion.

Accredited HVAC Training Programs in Arizona

Those that would prefer a more traditional classroom route also have options in Arizona. Post-secondary schools in Arizona must be licensed by the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education with a regular vocational program license or regular degree-granting license. Those institutions that are still in the process of becoming accredited may have a provisional license while accreditation is finalized.

Vocational HVAC schools in AZ may be accredited by such industry-specific organizations as the Partnership for Air-conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) or HVAC Excellence, both of which evaluate HVAC programs for their faculty, curriculum, and other factors. Interested parties can find out more about PAHRA’s specific accreditation process by visiting the accreditation page on their website.

GateWay Community College

Currently, the only HVAC program accredited by PAHRA is GateWay Community College in Phoenix. GateWay offers the following HVAC programs at its Phoenix campus:

  • Associate in applied science (AAS) degree in air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities
  • Certificate of completion in air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities
  • Certificate of completion in residential and light air conditioning

The certificate of completion in residential and light air conditioning requires 22 to 22.5 credit-hours to complete. Courses in this program include computer usage and applications, refrigeration applications and components, refrigeration applications and components lab, electricity for industry, electricity for industry lab, heating and air conditioning, heating and air conditioning lab, load calculation and duct design, EPA Section 608 technician preparation and certification, and construction safety.

The certificate of completion in air conditioning, refrigeration & facilities is made up of 44 to 47.5 credit-hours. It includes all the above courses with the addition of motors, controls and wiring diagrams, motors, controls and wiring diagrams lab, electro-mechanical devices, facilities air conditioning systems, controls and instrumentation, controls and instrumentation lab, codes, and commercial air and water test and balance.

The AAS degree in air conditioning/refrigeration/facilities program consists of 66 to 74.5 credit-hours. It includes all courses from the above-mentioned certificates. This program also involves general education courses such as first-year composition, technical and professional writing, introduction to human communication, college critical reading and critical thinking, mathematical concepts and applications, and fundamental chemistry.

These programs are designed to provide training in the areas of electricity, HVAC/R systems, electronic controls, electro-mechanical devices, hydronics, and general repair. On completion of these programs, students can take up roles such as heating and air conditioning mechanics, installers, and refrigeration technicians and installers.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA)
  • Estimated Time to Completion: AAS degree (24 months); certificate programs (six to 12 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificate of completion residential and light commercial air conditioning ($2,158); certificate of completion in air conditioning, refrigeration and facilities maintenance ($3,856); AAS in air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities ($6,518)

Mohave Community College

Mohave Community College does not offer a degree program in HVAC, but offers the following certificates:

  • HVAC installation certificate
  • HVAC residential certificate
  • HVAC/R light commercial certificate

The HVAC installation certificate is made up of 16 credit-hours. It includes courses such as an introduction to HVAC, ducting and electrical, unit installation and start-up, HVAC estimating and bidding, and HVAC plans and specifications.

The HVAC residential certificate consists of 17 credit-hours. Courses include an introduction to HVAC, residential maintenance and communications, and residential diagnostics and repair I and II.

The HVAC/R light commercial certificate comprises 17 credit-hours. It includes courses such as introduction to HVAC, light commercial maintenance and professional communications, and light commercial diagnostics and repair I and II.

Students in these programs are prepared to take up jobs in residential heating, ventilation, air conditioning/refrigeration. The residential and commercial programs prepare students for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification as well.

  • Location: Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Time to Completion: Four to six months
  • Estimated Tuition: HVAC installation ($2,933); HVAC residential ($4,152.29); HVAC/R light commercial ($3,852.29)

Arizona Western College

Arizona Western College offers various programs that prepare students for employment in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. Students will receive training in a number of areas including electrical controlling devices, repair, troubleshooting, and maintenance of A/C units, and safety factors involved in the use of refrigerants.

The following four programs are offered:

Occupational certificate, basic air conditioning and refrigeration service technician – This program comprises 20 credit-hours. It includes courses such as introductory craft skill, air conditioning and refrigeration 1 and 2, air conditioning and refrigeration motors, circuits/controls, control systems, and heating technology.

Occupational certificate, air conditioning and refrigeration – This certificate is made up of 38 credit-hours and includes all the above courses, with the addition of air conditioning and refrigeration 3 and 4, heat and load calculations and duct design, light commercial systems, employee and occupational safety, techniques in flux-cored arc welding, techniques in oxyacetylene welding/cutting, techniques in shielded metal arc welding, and techniques in gas metal arc welding.

Associate in applied science (AAS) degree in air conditioning – This program consists of 64 credit-hours. It includes all the courses mentioned above, with the addition of basic electricity, technical writing, introduction to entrepreneurship, and general education courses such as introduction to composition, and mathematics for the applied sciences.

Associate in applied science degree in air conditioning (STEM emphasis) – This STEM emphasis AAS degree program is made up of 75 credit-hours and includes nearly all courses from the program mentioned above. This program provides courses in the air-conditioning and technical subject areas as well as the required general education courses to prepare students to transfer to a university.

  • Location: Yuma, Arizona
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Time to Completion: AAS degree (24 months); certificate programs (six to 12 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: Arizona and California residents ($88 per credit-hour); out-of-state residents ($98 per credit-hour)

Those Arizona students who are unable to complete an on-campus program may want to consider online HVAC training. For more information on programs available in an online format, visit the online HVAC training page on this site.

Arizona HVAC Licensing and Certification

There are three categories of licenses offered for HVAC technicians in Arizona, all of which are available through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The C-39 license, for air conditioning and refrigeration, is applicable to those technicians wanting to engage in “installation, alteration, and repair of refrigeration and evaporative cooling systems.” A C-39 license also allows the recipient to work with solar technology. The class “C” indicates that this is a license for specialty residential contracting.

The C-49 license, indicated solely for commercial and industrial refrigeration, is an appropriate choice for those technicians who will engage in the “installation, alteration, and repair of refrigeration equipment and systems used for processing, storage, and display of food products and other perishable commodities.” This license includes “commercial, industrial, and manufacturing processes requiring refrigeration.”

The final license relevant for HVAC technicians is the C-58 license, indicated for comfort heating, ventilating, and evaporative cooling. This license is specific to the “installation, alteration, and repair of warm air heating systems, gas-fired furnaces and space heaters, ventilation and evaporative cooling units, or any combination of these.”

In addition to state-specific licensing (as well as any licensing that a municipality may require), all HVAC technicians working with refrigerants must obtain the EPA Section 608 certification. Most HVAC training programs prepare students to sit for this exam during the course of their training but some individuals may need to obtain this on their own. Four types of Section 608 certification are available so new technicians should choose the one that is most applicable to the work they will do:

  • Type I: For servicing small appliances
  • Type II: For servicing or disposing of high- or very high-pressure appliances, except small appliances and MVACs
  • Type III: For servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances
  • Type IV: Universal

Anyone interested in becoming an HVAC technician in Arizona should be sure to verify which credentials specifically are required for the region where they want to work.

Finally, check out the HVAC certification guide to learn more about national credentials for these skilled professionals.

Farheen Gani

Farheen is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).