Gilbert, AZ HVAC Training Schools & Certification

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Gilbert, Arizona (AZ) lies within the Sonoran Desert, which has earned a reputation as one of the world’s sunniest regions. Gilbert is regarded as the hottest and driest city in the US. Average temperatures during the summer days exceed 100 degrees, often spiking to 110 and occasionally higher. Summer evenings average about 30 degrees cooler. Winter daytime temperatures cluster around the upper 60s and low 70s, and nighttime temperatures drop to the mid- to low 40s. Freezing temperatures and snowfall are extremely rare in Gilbert. Spring and autumn are warm and short-lived. Rainfall is minimal throughout the year and can result from thunderstorms during the summer months.

Once a small town reliant on agriculture, Gilbert is now a thriving city with a strong and diverse economy. The city continues to maintain high standards of community life and has doubled its population every five years for the past 40 years. Residents are young, averaging less than 40-years-old, and are highly educated.

Economic development has focused on “science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) industries. Progress has emerged in the areas of oncology, regenerative medicine, cardiovascular science, algae technologies and biofuels, medical devices and pharmaceuticals/nutraceuticals.” The Heritage District is home to structures that are on the National Register of Historic Places, luring visitors. The City of the Future initiative is about innovative growth and is also dedicated to “strategically maintaining existing infrastructure over the next few decades” to prevent deterioration.

The desert climate frequently keeps Gilbert residents indoors. Heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) in homes and offices is necessary for relief from the weather extremes. Many of the research facilities, medical and educational institutions, hospitality venues, and retail outlets require the addition of refrigeration (HVAC/R) not only for physical comfort, but also to keep their electronic equipment functioning properly.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018) indicates that 6,220 HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers were employed in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, area, which includes Gilbert as of May 2018. Industry organizations such as the following provide training and support to the technicians and their employers:

  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers
  • American Subcontractors Association of Arizona
  • Arizona Construction Trades
  • Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Arizona Chapter
  • SMART Local 359

These groups work with government organizations and others in the industry to establish educational and licensing standards. They coordinate safety, performance, promotion, and other guidelines for the HVAC and HVAC/R industry to ensure the safety of technicians and the public.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Gilbert, AZ

The demand for professional HVAC and HVAC/R technicians nationwide is increasing, according to BLS (2019) data. They anticipate a 13 percent increase in job openings between 2018 and 2028. That is much faster than the average of 5 percent expected for all occupations in the US. The need for new technicians in Arizona is growing at more than three times the national rate. Projections Central predicts a 41.7 percent increase statewide in the demand for technicians, or 3,330 new positions, between 2016 and 2026.

New commercial and residential construction accounts for most of the job opportunities for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians. The continuing growth and economic prosperity in Gilbert has resulted in additional building efforts to accommodate new businesses and residents, all of which require climate-control. Additionally, the city’s commitment to maintaining existing structures creates a demand for new HVAC and HVAC/R equipment to replace, retrofit, or upgrade older systems to meet current safety codes, energy efficiency goals, and pollution reduction standards. The increasing dependence on technology makes specialized equipment and systems necessary, especially in the newer “smart” buildings.

Contemporary climate-control equipment and systems continue to increase in complexity and require trained technicians to install, service, and maintain. Technicians who are proficient troubleshooters, skilled in using computers, and understand electronics generally have the best job opportunities. Occasionally, technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment. The thriving economy and expansive growth in Gilbert mean that technicians can expect year-round work in the foreseeable future. Technicians who specialize in maintenance and repair services can expect full-time employment, as homeowners and businesses need to keep their equipment in good working order regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Gilbert, AZ

The BLS (March 2019) records indicate that HVAC mechanics and installers nationwide earned a median salary of $47,610 as of May 2018. Technicians in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ area, which includes Gilbert, earned an annual median salary of $43,520.

Details of national, state, and regional salaries of HVAC professionals are below:

United States Arizona Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 324,310 8,020 6,220
Average Annual Salary $50,160 $46,040 $46,710
10th Percentile $29,460 $26,570 $26,330
25th Percentile $36,520 $34,210 $34,350
50th Percentile (Median) $47,610 $43,190 $43,520
75th Percentile $60,900 $54,490 $55,340
90th Percentile $76,230 $66,710 $69,130

HVAC Apprenticeships in Gilbert, AZ

Although untrained workers in the past could start as assistants and learn the trade through on-the-job training, the opportunities for doing so have dwindled. Most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities, as well as provide greater earnings throughout a technician’s career.

Apprenticeships often include 2,000 hours of on-the-job training combined with 144 classroom hours annually for three to five years. The Arizona Department of Economic Security Apprenticeship Office provides information on registered apprenticeships and other resources for workers.

In addition, workers seeking HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs can find several available through national industry associations such as:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • Mechanical Contractors Association of America
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society
  • Sheet Metal Workers International Association

Information as to coursework offered, schedules, and fees is available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Schools in Gilbert, AZ

Workers who want to increase their employability may choose formal training in accredited diploma, certificate, or degree programs. Accreditation is the process of evaluation of a school’s program by an independent agency. The evaluation includes both the curriculum and the instructors. It is essential to determine if an institution is accredited and which organization granted accreditation when choosing a school.

Two industry organizations evaluate and accredit HVAC programs: the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA), which has awarded accreditation to Gateway Community College in Phoenix; and HVAC Excellence, which has not currently accredited an Arizona program.

East Valley Institute of Technology

EVIT offers an HVAC/R certificate program. The curriculum is presented through classroom lectures and hands-on practice in the lab. Students receive training in the following: electrical wiring and maintenance, air distribution and balancing, electronic controls and circuits, HVAC/R installation, service, and repair, and appliance repair. Graduates are eligible to take the EPA Section 608 and NATE certification exams.

  • Location: Mesa, AZ
  • Accreditation: Council on Occupational Education (COE)
  • Tuition: $5,400
  • Program length: Ten to 12 months

Gateway Community College

Gateway offers the following HVAC programs:

  • Residential and light air conditioning certificate: 22-25 credit-hours
  • Air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities certificate: 44-47.5 credit-hours
  • Air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities degree: 72-74.5 credit-hours

Coursework for all programs is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in the school’s labs. The residential and light air conditioning certificate includes the following courses: computer use and applications, refrigeration applications and components, electricity, load calculation and duct design, industrial and construction safety, and preparation for the EPA Section 608 exam.

The air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities technology certificate adds the following coursework to the above: motors, controls, and wiring diagrams; instrumentation; codes, air, and water balancing; and facilities HVAC systems. The degree program includes all of the above technical coursework with the addition of general education instruction in math, humanities, composition, and communication.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); PAHRA
  • Tuition: $85 per credit-hour
  • Program length: Certificate (18 to 24 months); degree (two years)

The Refrigeration School, Inc.

RSI, a private school, offers an HVAC/R program during day and evening classes. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on training in a modern lab. Instructors are able to program real-life troubleshooting problems using electronic equipment. The curriculum includes the fundamentals of electricity and refrigeration, residential and commercial HVAC systems, refrigeration systems and practices, and advanced troubleshooting.

Graduates are qualified to seek employment as entry-level technicians.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Tuition: $15,950
  • Program length: Six months

UEI College

UEI, also a private college, offers an HVAC diploma program that includes classroom lectures and hands-on practice in a lab. The curriculum includes electricity, motors, controls, refrigeration theory and application, air conditioning, troubleshooting, heat pumps, heating systems, boilers, duct design, blueprint reading, load calculations, commercial refrigeration and specialized systems, regulations, and building automation. An externship is also required to graduate. Students are prepared to take the EPA Section 608 and R-410A certification exams. The cost of taking the exams for the first time is included in the tuition.

Students are expected to wear uniforms and maintain a professional appearance at all times. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC and HVAC/R technicians.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
  • Tuition: $19,900
  • Program length: Nine months

Gilbert students who are unable to complete an on-campus program due to work or other constraints may choose online HVAC training. More information on available programs may be found at the online HVAC training site.

HVAC Certification and Licensing in Gilbert, AZ

Technicians who work with refrigerants are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to obtain EPA Section 608 Certification, which includes passing an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. There are four types of certifications according to the size and kind of systems on which technicians work:

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

Technicians may obtain additional training and certifications from industry organizations to improve their employability. Those organizations also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), North American Technician Excellence (NATE), and HVAC Excellence. Details are available on each website.

The State of Arizona Registrar of Contractors requires that any job exceeding $1,000 for labor and materials must be performed by a licensed contractor. They have three classifications of licensing: residential, commercial, and dual residential/commercial.

HVAC contractors may choose licensure from three types: residential R-39; commercial C-39 or C-58; and dual CR-39 or CR-58. Each license has a specific definition as to the type of work allowed or restricted.

Applicants for all licenses must pass a business management exam and an HVAC exam. They are also required to submit proof of experience, pass a background check, and submit an insurance bond. The amount of the bond is calculated based on the type of license and the volume of work performed.

The fee for an HVAC commercial license is $580; for an HVAC residential license, $720; and for an HVAC dual residential/commercial license, $850. Licenses must be renewed every two years. The renewal fees are $480, $540, and $650, respectively.

Finally, Maricopa County does not require contractors to obtain additional licensing; however, the City of Gilbert requires every business to obtain a business license. Applicants must complete an application that details ownership of the company and pay a $35 fee. Licenses are renewed annually for $15.

As licensing guidelines can change, HVAC technicians are encouraged to ensure that they comply with all requirements before starting a project.

Barry Franklin

Barry is the Editor in Chief of HVACClasses.org, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he joined as partner in 2013 after almost 20 years in the financial software industry.