Scottsdale, AZ HVAC Schools – Training & Certification

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Whether they are working, playing, or relaxing at home, Scottsdale, Arizona (AZ) residents depend on their heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) for comfort. The summers are extremely hot, with daytime temperatures consistently exceeding 100 degrees.

Residents and tourists get little relief at night, as it only cools to the 80s. Winter highs hover around the upper 60s, with lows about 20 degrees cooler. Thousands of “snowbird” tourists flock to Scottsdale during the winter to escape cold winters in the North.

Scottsdale’s economy is based on tourism. In addition to the snowbirds, millions of visitors come throughout the year to enjoy the Sonoran Desert, Tonto National Forest, and other abundant recreational opportunities. Award-winning resorts, hotels, and ranches offer the best places to stay. When not outside, visitors and residents alike experience fine dining, art galleries and studios, museums, sports, premier golf courses, and a plethora of special events.

Scottsdale is more than a pleasure, however. It has been “recognized nationwide as one of the top markets for business performance, job growth, livability, and friendly culture.” Some of its top-growing industries include software, finance, real estate, insurance, and healthcare. One of the three primary Mayo Clinics is located in Scottsdale. And virtually every business, entertainment venue, and residence in Scottsdale requires refrigeration (HVAC/R).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2020) reports that 7,860 HVAC mechanics and installers were employed in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ, area. State and local chapters of industry organizations such as the following provide training and support to the technicians:

  • American Subcontractors Association of Arizona (ASA-AZ)
  • Arizona Construction Trades (ACT)
  • Home Builders Association of Central Arizona (HBACA)
  • Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona (MTCAZ)
  • National Association of State Contractors – Arizona Members (NASCLA)
  • Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association, Arizona Chapter (SMACNA AZ)

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 industry.

Read on to discover accredited HVAC training programs in Scottsdale, as well as information about local certification and licensure.

Occupational Demand for HVAC Technicians in Scottsdale, AZ

According to the BLS (2021), the demand for HVAC technicians is growing nationwide. Openings for HVAC professionals are expected to increase by 4 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2029. That is as fast as the average 4 percent increase projected for all occupations in the U.S. Furthermore, the demand for technicians in Arizona is growing much faster than the national average. Projections Central (2021) predicted a 21.4 percent statewide increase between 2018 and 2028.

The complexity of modern climate control equipment and systems is one of the primary drivers of growth in the HVAC industry. Older equipment and systems must be replaced, retrofitted, or upgraded to meet industry standards. The technology-based industries and hospitality venues driving the economy in Scottsdale require extensive and modern systems. The contemporary emphasis on energy efficiency and environmental awareness in Scottsdale is another reason for the increased installation of new equipment and systems.

Sophisticated climate control systems mean that technicians who are computer and electronics literate, as well as those with superior troubleshooting skills, generally have the best job prospects. Technicians who specialize in new installations may experience seasonal unemployment if construction declines, although the economic growth in Scottsdale makes that unlikely in the near future.

Also, maintenance and repair work doesn’t depend on new developments, as businesses and homeowners depend on keeping their climate control systems in good operating condition regardless of the economy.

HVAC Salaries in Scottsdale, AZ

The BLS (May 2020) reports that HVAC and HVAC/R mechanics and installers nationally receive a median annual salary of $50,590. Technicians in the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area received an annual median salary of $47,190. 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 2021), Arizona is ranked 32nd in terms of affordability, making it about average, with the cost of utilities being somewhat higher.

Here are detailed salary comparisons at the national, statewide, and local levels:

United States Arizona Phoenix – Mesa – Scottsdale, AZ
Number of HVAC professionals employed 344,020 10,000 7,860
Annual average salary $53,410 $49,100 $50,070
10th percentile $31,910 $32,350 $32,910
25th percentile $39,320 $37,210 $37,830
50th percentile (median) $50,590 $46,440 $47,190
75th percentile $64,350 $58,570 $59,480
90th percentile $80,820 $68,760 $71,690

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (August 2021), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the HVAC workers reporting their annual salaries, Payscale found these percentiles:

  • 10th percentile: $33,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,545
  • 90th percentile: $78,000

HVAC Apprenticeships in Scottsdale, AZ

In the past, HVAC technicians were able to start as helpers and learn the trade through on-the-job training. A few still do so, but these days, most workers now attend classes or participate in an apprenticeship program. Formal training and apprenticeships can open up more employment opportunities.

Apprenticeships include around 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom work annually for three to five years. The Arizona Department of Economic Security Apprenticeship Office provides information for workers seeking to obtain job skills. Employers and associations offering HVAC and other apprenticeship opportunities are sorted by region. Programs and positions for Scottsdale are listed in the Phoenix Metropolitan region.

Additionally, SMART Local 359 offers a five-year apprenticeship program that includes HVAC training. The program consists of 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 720 hours of coursework through the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS). Classes are taught in the evenings at the Phoenix facility.

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

  • 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)

Information as to coursework offered and the cost is available on their websites.

Accredited HVAC Training Schools in Scottsdale, AZ

In addition to apprenticeships, some aspiring HVAC professionals in Scottsdale seek to complete an accredited degree or certificate program. Accreditation is an evaluation of the quality of an educational institution’s program by an independent agency. The curriculum and the instructors are included in the evaluation, and determining if a school is accredited (and which agency granted accreditation) is an essential part of selecting a school.

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

As there is not currently an HVAC school in Scottsdale proper, nearby schools have been profiled below.

Gateway Community College

The following HVAC programs are offered by Gateway Community College:

  • HVAC Residential Installation and Service Technician (day/night) certificate: 667 clock-hours
  • HVAC Technician (Night): 728 clock-hours
  • Air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities technology certificate: 44 to 47.5 credits
  • Air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities degree: 66 to 74.5 credits

Courses in these programs are offered through hands-on training in labs and classroom lectures.

The 728-clock-hour HVAC technician certificate includes courses in HVAC basics, computer foundations, HVAC systems, HVAC installations, and HVAC troubleshooting.

The 667-clock-hour HVAC residential installation and service technician certificate includes courses such as construction calculations, foundations of construction safety, electrical systems, HVAC for residential systems, and construction drawings introduction.

The 44 to 47.5 air conditioning, refrigeration, and facilities technology certificate includes courses in preparation for EPA Section 608 exam, refrigeration applications & components, electricity, load calculation & duct design, commercial air and water test and balance, codes, heating & air conditioning, facilities air conditioning systems, and electro-mechanical devices, among others.

Finally, the degree program includes all courses mentioned above, with the addition of computers, math, and humanities. Graduates complete 66 to 74.5 credits to earn their degree.

At the end of the program, graduates will be qualified to pursue a variety of careers such as HVAC tech, electrician, carpenter, construction site manager, and project manager.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); PAHRA
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Certificate (six to 18 months); degree (24 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: County resident ($85 per credit); out-of-county resident ($441 per credit)

The Refrigeration School, Inc.

RSI, a private school, offers HVAC/R training in day and evening classes. Students learn through classroom lectures and hands-on training in a modern lab. Instructors can program real-life troubleshooting problems using electronic equipment.

The curriculum includes instruction in the fundamentals of electricity, the fundamentals of refrigeration, residential and commercial comfort systems, refrigeration systems and practices, and advanced troubleshooting.

Graduates are prepared to seek employment as entry-level technicians. They can take up roles such as refrigeration service technician, HVAC/R service technician, refrigeration installation technician, HVAC/R installation technician, restaurant & retail refrigeration technician, low-temperature field technician, and commercial refrigeration technician.

  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: Six months
  • Estimated Tuition: $15,710

Pima Community College

Pima Community College offers an HVAC/R technician certificate program providing students with the knowledge and skills for building a rewarding career in HVAC. Covering topics such as diagnostic techniques, principles of mechanics, and electronics & electricity, this HVAC/R program provides training in installing, repairing, maintaining, and servicing HVAC/R systems.

Made up of 33 credits, the curriculum includes instruction in soldering and brazing, basic rigging, job safety, residential and industrial HVAC, using hand and power tools, reading blueprints, career planning, and trade and technical writing.

Courses earned in this certificate program form the HVAC concentration for the building and construction technology associate of applied science (AAS) degree program. Students complete an additional curriculum that includes advanced residential and industrial HVAC, soldering and brazing, sustainability, science, and humanities. Graduates complete a total of 63 to 65 credits to earn their AAS degree.

  • Location: Tucson, AZ
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Format: On-campus
  • Expected Time to Completion: 32 weeks
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state resident ($87 per credit); non-resident ($308.50 per credit)

Scottsdale 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.

HVAC Certification & Licensing in Scottsdale, AZ

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires technicians who work with refrigerants 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 systems on which technicians work:

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

Each exam covers different topics.

Technicians may obtain additional HVAC training and certifications from industry organizations, which also offer Section 608 testing and certification. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): Their mission is to provide opportunities for enhanced technical competence by offering comprehensive, cutting-edge education and certification to the HVAC/R industry.
  • North American Technician Excellence (NATE): Their certification tests represent real-world working knowledge of HVAC/R systems.
  • HVAC Excellence: Their exams and certifications are intended to validate that an individual has retained knowledge in a specific area of the HVAC/R industry.

Details are available on each website.

As a final note, the State of Arizona Registrar of Contractors has three classifications of licensing: residential, commercial, and dual residential/commercial. Any job that exceeds $1,000 for labor and materials must be performed by a licensed contractor.

HVAC contractor licenses are as follows: residential R-39; commercial C-39 or C-58; and dual CR-39 or CR-58. Each license is defined as to allowable and non-allowable work for that classification. All applicants must pass a business management exam and an HVAC exam. They must also 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 residential license is $720; an HVAC commercial license, $580; and an HVAC dual residential/commercial license, $380.

Maricopa County does not require contractors to obtain additional licensing, and the City of Scottsdale does not require contractors to obtain additional licensing.

All HVAC professionals in Scottsdale are encouraged to ensure they have all the necessary credentialing before beginning any work.

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.