HVAC Schools & Certifications in Peoria, Arizona

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Established in 1886, Peoria, Arizona (AZ), initially was a small agricultural community. It’s now one of Arizona’s largest cities and boasts a diverse and thriving economy. Peoria is part of the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale Metropolitan Area, which is one of the nation’s largest urban areas and fifth in the country in economic growth. Although commonly regarded as a suburb of Phoenix, Peoria is more than a bedroom community. The Peoria Sports Complex is a San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners training center. Tourism has become a major industry, supporting expanding entertainment and hospitality venues.

Long-established manufacturing facilities continue to make a significant contribution to Peoria’s economy. The healthcare industry is growing, with several new state-of-the-art medical complexes constructed in the past few years. Peoria’s low-energy costs and ample room for expansion have made it a prime location for numerous data centers, an industry that will only continue to grow. Semiconductor manufacturers have begun constructing their facilities in the region. Retail trade is another growth industry. The city has also targeted “advanced business services, manufacturing, bioscience, health care, and scientific and technical services” as areas of future growth.

It rains in Peoria, but it doesn’t snow. Its location in the Sonoran Desert means that winters are mild. Except in rare record-setting years, the temperature never drops below freezing. By April, the temperatures are in the 80s F and continue to rise, with averages exceeding 100 degrees all summer. June and July can spike above 120 in some years. The humidity is highest in December and January at 42 percent and 41 percent, respectively. It’s the lowest in May and June at 7 percent in those months. Peoria is not subject to hurricanes or tornadoes.

Peoria residents rely on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort in their homes and workplaces. The healthcare complexes, manufacturing facilities, and hospitality and entertainment venues often add refrigeration (HVAC/R) to their systems. The technology-based businesses frequently need specialized systems and equipment to keep their electronics operating correctly. Sophisticated climate control is crucial in data centers and semiconductor facilities.

Workforce data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) indicates that 5,920 HVAC and HVAC/R technicians were employed in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, which includes Peoria. The workers and their employers receive support and resources from industry associations that include the following:

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA)
  • American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
  • American Subcontractors Association of Arizona (ASA-AZ)
  • Arizona Construction Trades (ACT)
  • Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona (MTCAZ)
  • National Association of State Contractors – Arizona Members (NASCLA)
  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
  • SMART Local 359

These and similar organizations collaborate with others in the industry and regulatory agencies to establish and maintain educational and licensing standards for the safety of technicians, the public, and the environment.

Occupational Demand for HVAC and HVAC/R Technicians in Peoria, Arizona

The nationwide demand for HVAC and HVAC/R technicians continues to increase. BLS (2022) workforce data predicts five percent growth annually from 2021 through 2031, keeping pace with the projected growth for all other occupations. That is an average of 40,100 new openings for technicians each year. Projections Central also anticipates long-term growth of five percent annually nationwide, but their statistics are for 2020 to 2030 and reflect an average of 38,500 new positions yearly.

Growth in the HVAC industry is primarily the result of the construction of new commercial and residential buildings. Additionally, aging and obsolete equipment in existing structures in older cities like Peoria must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet current standards. On occasion, systems in newer installations must be replaced due to changes in efficiency, regulatory, and safety requirements and to meet the requirements of technology industries. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and pollution reduction for all systems also creates a need for new installations.

The increasing complexity of modern climate control equipment and systems requires trained technicians for installation, service, and maintenance. Technicians must have excellent troubleshooting skills and expertise with computers and electronics if they want the best job opportunities. If they specialize in new installations, they may experience unemployment if construction declines. That doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future in Peoria, as the city is focused on economic growth. The recent construction of a $15 million semiconductor manufacturing facility is only one example of the city’s sustained growth.

Technicians specializing in maintaining, servicing, and repairing equipment can expect continuous employment as businesses and homeowners depend on keeping their climate control systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy.

HVAC and HVAC/R Salaries in Peoria, Arizona

BLS (May 2022) workforce data shows a nationwide annual median salary of $51,390 for HVAC mechanics and installers. The median salary for technicians in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area, which includes Peoria, is $49,090 annually. The wage difference is greater than it appears, as the cost of living in Arizona is moderately higher than in other American states.

The table below compares national, state, and regional wages:

United States Arizona Phoenix, Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
Number of HVAC Professionals Employed 374,770 8,210 5,920
Average Annual Salary $57,460 $54,390 $54,910
10th Percentile $36,170 $35,250 $35,480
25th Percentile $44,100 $39,990 $39,840
50th Percentile $51,390 $48,980 $49,090
75th Percentile $65,630 $62,830 $63,500
90th Percentile $82,630 $79,710 $79,770

HVAC Apprenticeships in Peoria, Arizona

Traditionally, aspiring HVAC technicians obtained employment as helpers and learned through on-the-job training. Few opportunities currently exist for untrained workers. Obtaining formal training creates more employment opportunities for technicians. Apprenticeships typically include specified hours of on-the-job training, usually 2,000 hours, and classroom work, usually 144 hours, annually for three to five years.

Resources and information for workers are available through the Arizona Department of Economic Security Apprenticeship Office. Employers can also create a registered apprenticeship through that office. SMART Local 359 offers a five-year apprenticeship at their Phoenix facility, including HVAC training. Apprentices complete 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 720 hours of coursework through the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS).

Industry associations also sponsor HVAC and HVAC/R apprenticeship programs. These include, but aren’t limited to, the following:

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

Each organization provides details of schedules and fees on its website.

Accredited HVAC and HVAC/R Schools in Peoria, Arizona

Aspiring technicians who plan to obtain their training from a school rather than participate in an apprenticeship program should select an accredited institution. Accreditation is the process by which an independent agency evaluates the program’s quality, including the curriculum and the instructors. HVAC programs are evaluated by HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). HVAC Excellence has not yet accredited an Arizona program. PAHRA has accredited Gateway Community College, Phoenix. Other reputable agencies have accredited the additional schools profiled below.

Carrington College

Carrington College has numerous campuses in several states, including Arizona. The closest one to Peoria is in Phoenix. Students may earn an HVAC/R certificate which prepares them for entry-level employment. The coursework is presented via classroom lectures and hands-on training in the lab. The curriculum includes theory and application of HVAC/R, electricity, advanced HVAC/R, advanced electricity, and air distribution systems. The certificate is awarded after 40 credit-hours.

Graduates may transfer their credits to Carrington’s online trades studies program to earn an associate degree. They must complete 30 credit-hours of general education coursework, including English writing and composition, mathematics, psychology, sociology, ethics, technical writing, interpersonal communication, environmental science, critical thinking, and algebra.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: Certificate $20,394; degree $11,230
  • Estimated Program Length: Certificate (40 weeks); degree (70 weeks)

Gateway Community College

Gateway offers HVAC certificate programs and a degree program. All programs include classroom lectures and hands-on practice in a fully equipped lab featuring modern equipment.

Students interested in automotive air conditioning may choose the air conditioning and electrical accessories certificate program. The curriculum includes automotive electrical systems, air conditioning, quick service, and electrical/electronic systems II. They earn their certificate after 18 credit-hours.

The HVAC residential installation and service technician certificate program is taught only in the evenings. The coursework includes construction safety, hand and power tools, equipment and workspace, construction calculations, construction drawings, electrical systems, residential HVAC systems, HVAC installation, and HVAC troubleshooting. The coursework takes 23.5 to 29.5 credit-hours to complete.

Completing the above certificate is a prerequisite for the HVAC/R and facilities technology certificate. Students then complete additional coursework that includes motors, controls and wiring diagrams, electro-mechanical devices, facilities and air conditioning systems, controls and instrumentation, codes, and commercial air and water test and balance. The certificate takes an additional 22 credit-hours, for a total of 44.5 to 51.5. The program may not always be available.

The HVAC/R and facilities technology degree program includes all the above coursework and Section 608 certification preparation. It then adds general education requirements, which include English composition, introduction to communications, critical reading, mathematical concepts and application, chemistry or physics, humanities/fine arts, and social/behavioral science. The curriculum requires 68.5 to 79.5 credit-hours to complete.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: PAHRA; Higher Learning Commission
  • Estimated Tuition: Lower-division $97 per credit; upper-division $145.50 per credit
  • Estimated Program Length: Certificates (vary); degree (two years)

The Refrigeration School, Inc

RSI, a private institution, is an approved North American Technician Excellence (NATE) training provider and testing facility. In addition to the HVAC/R program, students may complete optional courses to prepare for NATE certification exams.

The HVAC/R diploma program is available during days and evenings. Students learn through classroom lectures and hands-on training in a modern lab. The curriculum includes fundamentals of electricity, fundamentals of refrigeration, residential and commercial comfort systems, refrigeration systems and practices, and advanced troubleshooting. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level positions as technicians.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
  • Estimated Tuition: $19,050
  • Estimated Program Length: Days (26 weeks); evenings (38 weeks)

UEI College

UEI has more than 30 campuses, with one each in Mesa, AZ, and Phoenix, AZ. Both campuses offer an HVAC diploma program. Students are required to pass the EPA Section 608 exam as a condition of graduation. The fee for taking the exam one time is included in the tuition. The R-410A certification is not a program completion requirement but is strongly encouraged.

The curriculum includes basic electricity, motors, and HVAC controls, refrigeration theory and application, HVAC troubleshooting, heat pump systems, heating systems, duct design, reading blueprints, load calculation, commercial refrigeration systems, specialized commercial equipment, green awareness, regulations, building automation, and electrical and mechanical troubleshooting. Coursework is divided between classroom lectures and hands-on lab simulations. Graduates are qualified to seek entry-level employment as HVAC technicians.

  • Location: Mesa, AZ; Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
  • Estimated Tuition: $21,500
  • Estimated Program Length: 40 weeks

Peoria students who cannot attend one of the above schools may find that online institutions can better meet their needs. More information on accredited programs is available at online HVAC training.

HVAC and HVAC/R Certification and Licensing in Peoria, Arizona

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations mandate that HVAC and HVAC/R technicians who handle refrigerants obtain Section 608 certification. EPA has four certification levels, each requiring technicians to pass an exam on the safe handling of refrigerants. The exams and types of certification are based on the kind and size of equipment on which the technician works, as follows:

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

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

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

Each organization includes details of availability, scheduling, and fees on its website. There is also more information on the HVAC certifications page.

Contractors are licensed by the State of Arizona Registrar of Contractors. Licenses are classified as residential, commercial, and dual residential/commercial.

HVAC contractor licenses are further classified as R-39 residential, C-39 or C-58 commercial, and dual CR-39 or CR-58. Each classification has specific details of the type of work allowed or restricted. All applicants must submit proof of experience and pass an exam on Arizona statutes and rules and an HVAC exam. They must also undergo a background check, provide valid identification, submit an insurance bond, and pay a fee.

The City of Peoria requires anyone conducting business in the city to obtain a business license. Licenses must be renewed annually.

All HVAC professionals are encouraged to verify that they comply with all required licensing before beginning work on any project.

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.