HVAC Training Programs in Arizona – Programs & 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 2020) reporting that the Phoenix metropolitan area has the fifth-highest employment level for 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.

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 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 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 5 percent between 2020 and 2030. This growth rate means that there will be 19,000 more jobs in the field over just ten years. Also, Projections Central (2022)—a partner of the US Department of Labor—projected a massive 21.4 percent explosion in HVAC opportunities across Arizona between 2018 and 2028.

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 7,860 professionals employed in that area alone (BLS May 2020).

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 (2022) posted more than 650 openings for HVAC workers at places such as Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Johnson Controls, Vi Living, and La Posada at Park Centre, Inc. Monster (2022) boasted additional openings with employers including Doug Willemins Heating and Air Conditioning Inc, Cameron Craig Group, and EMCOR Group. 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 2020) reported that HVAC mechanics and installers nationally received a median salary of $50,590 as of May 2020. Technicians in Arizona received an annual median salary of $46,440.

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

The BLS (May 2020) reported the following salary figures in Arizona:

United States Arizona
Number of HVAC professionals employed 344,020 10,000
Annual mean wage $53,410 $49,100
10th percentile $31,910 $32,350
25th percentile $39,320 $37,210
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $46,440
75th percentile $64,350 $58,570
90th percentile $80,820 $68,760

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (2022), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $32,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,895
  • 90th percentile: $80,000

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 2022), Arizona ranked 36th in affordability, making it more expensive than the majority of states.

The BLS designated eight regions within Arizona for which employment data is available. The 7860 HVAC workers in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ area earned the highest average salary (annual mean wage) in the state with a reported average of $50,070 per year.

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.

Apprenticeships include a specified number of hours of on-the-job training (usually 2,000 hours) and classroom work (generally 144 hours) annually for three to five years.

An apprenticeship allows 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:

  • Associate in applied science (AAS) degree in air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities
  • Certificate of competency in HVAC residential installation and service technician
  • Certificate of competency in HVAC technician

The certificate of competency in HVAC residential installation and service technician requires 667 clock-hours to complete. Courses in this program include foundations of construction safety, hand and power tools, equipment, & workspace, construction calculations, electrical systems, HVAC for residential systems, HVAC installation, and HVAC troubleshooting.

The certificate of competency in HVAC technician is made up of 728 clock hours. It includes courses such as computer foundations, introduction to craft skills, HVAC basics, HVAC systems, HVAC installations, and HVAC troubleshooting.

The AAS degree in air conditioning/refrigeration/facilities program consists of 67.5 to 76.5 credits. It includes courses such as electro-mechanical devices, facilities air conditioning systems, motors: theory and application, commercial air and water test and balance, and controls and instrumentation, among others. 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); Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Time to Completion: AAS degree (24 months); certificate programs (six to 12 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: County resident ($85 per credit); out-of-county resident ($441 per credit); out-of-state resident ($241 per credit); certificates ($5 per clock hour)

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 credits. 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 credits. 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 credits. 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: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state students ($81 per credit); out-of-state students ($283.50 per credit)

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 several 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 credits. It includes courses such as introductory craft skills, 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 credits 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 credits. 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 credits 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 ($90 per credit); out-of-state residents ($100 per credit)

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, applies 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 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).