Across the country, demand for HVAC technicians is rapidly growing. HVAC schools in Arizona are providing fast-paced, well-rounded education that leads to an HVAC worker salary that is very competitive, as outlined below.
AZ HVAC technicians are highly sought after because the state has experienced large population increases in recent years creating a shortage of HVAC technicians. Now is a great time to pursue an education in HVAC or HVAC/R will provide you with a secure, high-paying job.
- Information on Accredited HVAC Schools in AZ Near You, Salary and More
- What is HVAC/R?
- Demand for HVAC Technicians in Arizona is High
- What is an HVAC Technicians Salary in Arizona?
- Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arizona
- HVAC Training Schools in Arizona
- HVAC Training School Costs
- HVAC Degrees - Why they are Important
- Is an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree Really Necessary?
- Becoming an HVAC Engineer
- Benefits of an HVAC Education
- Choosing an HVAC Training School
- The Importance of Accreditation
- HVAC Training School Curriculum
- HVAC School Classes
- HVAC Certifications
Information on Accredited HVAC Schools in AZ Near You, Salary and More
This page about HVAC schools in AZ discusses what you’ll learn, HVAC worker salary outlook from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, information about HVAC certification and licensing and a chance to search for accredited HVAC schools in AZ that are near you.
What is HVAC/R?
HVAC/R is short for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. HVAC/R technicians install and repair air conditioning and heating systems for heating and cooling companies, large and small commercial and residential companies, as well as construction companies. Many are hired to maintain the HVAC system in a large building such as a school, hospital or office tower. Some trained technicians may also choose to go into business for themselves, something to definitely consider once you’ve gained experience in the industry.
A technician might focus on air or heating systems only, like boilers, or some may choose to install only new equipment rather than focus on repairs or diagnostics. HVAC techs can choose to only work with appliances and systems that use refrigerants. You can explore these choices while attending an HVAC school training program.
Demand for HVAC Technicians in Arizona is High
According to the Census Bureau, in 2018, Arizona was the fastest growing state in the nation with nearly 200,000 new residents, and it is really hot here! So the need for HVAC techs is growing as well. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the need for HVAC/R technicians in AZ will increase by 19% through 2026, one of the highest rates of job growth in the country.
What is an HVAC Technicians Salary in Arizona?
The current average annual HVAC worker salary for an HVAC tech in Arizona is about $45,000 with entry-level workers earning around $30,000, mid-level workers earning about $42K to $48K and highly experienced techs earning at least $70,000. If you receive a journeyman certification, you will earn even more. With HVAC techs in short supply, you will probably also work overtime hours increasing your overall earnings.
Here is a link to ONet providing average HVAC wages for a variety of cities in AZ.
Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arizona
There are a few different options you can choose from when entering the HVAC industry. You could find an entry level job at a small company and try to work your way up, you might apply to an internship or apprenticeship program, but the most recommended process is to enter an accredited HVAC training school and earn an Associate’s Degree.
Once you graduate from high school or earn a GED, apply to an accredited HVAC training school. This is the best path to acquiring secure, high paying, employment in the HVAC/R industry.
HVAC training programs are available at vocational or trade schools, community colleges, universities, as well as, through on-line schools.
HVAC Training Schools in Arizona
Finding an accredited HVAC training school in Arizona is your best choice. An on-line search should provide a number of schools for you to look at. Later in the article we cover some considerations which will help you find an HVAC training school that works for you.
HVAC Training School Costs
Tuition for a 2-year Associates Degree will range from $7,000 at a community college, to about $20,000 at a university, vocational, or HVAC training school.
HVAC Degrees - Why they are Important
There is a 2-year Associate’s Degree and a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree available in HVAC. You can earn a 2-year Associate’s Degree only, work in the field for a while, then return to school and earn a Bachelor’s Degree. Some HVAC training schools also have accelerated programs that allow you to graduate faster. Below we will detail some of the general subject matter covered for the Associate’s Degree in the section headed “HVAC School Curriculum.”
A Bachelor’s Degree is the highest degree attainable in HVAC. Bachelor Degree classes will build on previous subject matter but will also cover more complex topics like energy audit and analysis, contracting, alternate heat and cooling sources, and environmental impacts. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree will cause prospective employers to take note, as only 5% of HVAC techs earn it, and will certainly help you find a high paying job.
Is an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree Really Necessary?
Today’s HVAC/R industry has become very high-tech with many new innovations in the last few years including sustainable HVAC systems, smart and mobile friendly technology, use of energy analysis software, and remote monitoring of systems.
The industry is looking for technicians that have proven they can learn and apply their knowledge. A degree assures a prospective employer that the job candidate will likely have the desired knowledge and skills to handle the job.
HVAC apprenticeships are in such high demand that even the unions are looking for applicants with degrees. They need recruits who have shown the capacity to grasp the basics and the ability to study, learn, and utilize their knowledge and having an Associate’s Degree will let them know that you are a top choice.
HVAC degree programs also teach students about real-world situations including creating and maintaining first-rate customer service, and the basics of becoming self-employed.
An apprenticeship will take between 3 and 5 years to complete, where an Associate’s Degree will only take about 2 years. HVAC techs with a degree can earn up to 27% more than those without a degree. Many states allow some of the HVAC training school hours to count towards a journeyman HVAC certification and licensing.
Becoming an HVAC Engineer
To become an HVAC engineer you will need a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in engineering with a class concentration in HVAC classes. Holding an engineering degree will provide you with the added ability to actually design and create the HVAC controls and systems for large construction projects and oversee installation of those systems.
Benefits of an HVAC Education
The benefits of earning an HVAC degree are many:
Demand for HVAC technicians with a degree is high, so it will place you at the top of the employment pool because you’ll be job-ready. A degree will reassure perspective employees that you have the credentials needed to do the job. You will be eligible for more, and better, jobs and can command a higher salary than those without degrees. In the past, you could get an entry-level position with a small HVAC company, learn the trade, and work your way up. Today, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, HVAC systems are so high-tech, complex, and rapidly innovating, that employers will consider job candidates with a post-secondary degree in HVAC before candidates who have completed apprenticeships.
Long-term career and financial stability: Your degree will allow you a well-paying career in a stable industry. It will provide you with the opportunity to work in large cities anywhere in the country. Acquiring an EPA 608 certificate, allowing you to work with refrigerants, will also further your position in the job market.
Green practices require newly trained employees. HVAC is a rapidly changing industry, due in part, by the need to meet The Department of Energy standards for energy conservation and greener practices. So, getting a degree in HVAC will keep you up to date on all of the latest trends and technology, such as, motion activated air conditioning, 3-D printed A/C units, ice-powered air conditioning, geo-thermal units, and recyclable ductwork.
Choosing an HVAC Training School
Below is information that will assist you in making the right choice for an HVAC training school.
- Is the school located relatively near you? If you will be employed during your training, also consider the distance from your job to the school.
- If you will be working, find a school that offers a flexible schedule with evening or weekend classes.
- Is the school accredited? Does it offer accelerated programs? What other benefits are available? These are some questions you can ask the school.
- Watch out for schools that only offer certificate programs as they will only teach you what you must know for specific certificates.
- If you choose an on-line school, find out how and where they provide hands-on learning experience.
Other good questions to ask:
- Cost: Find out the cost of tuition and whether you can afford it. Does the school offer help with finding financial assistance such as student loans or grants? Ask if tuition payments are due per semester or whether you can make monthly payments.
- Definitely look at the curriculum. Does it look interesting, thorough, and progress from the basics to more advanced subjects? Does it include refrigerant training and preparation for the EPA 608 (refrigerant) certification?
- Experienced Instructors: Ask if the instructors have actually worked in the HVAC industry. You will want to know if your instructors are qualified to teach from experience, or only from a textbook. Do they have knowledge of the changes and innovations in the industry?
- Class Size: Ask how many students will be in the classrooms and labs, as smaller class sizes will allow you more individual learning time and more hands-on time in the lab.
- What do Others Think: Investigate a school’s reputation and why they are a better choice than another school. There is likely plenty of information on-line including school rankings. You can even call HVAC companies to find out whether they have any recommendations.
- Visit the school and sit in on a class. Ask the students if they are happy with the instructors and the coursework and if they feel that the school is meeting their expectations, both in the classroom and in the lab.
- Job Placement Assistance: Find out if the school offers any employment assistance. Sometimes a school will partner with trade organizations that offer paid internships or apprenticeships. Will the school help you find a job after graduation? Some schools offer job guarantees and even have a department that helps you locate jobs.
The Importance of Accreditation
Look for accredited HVAC training schools. Accreditation means that the school has been reviewed and approved by an outside organization and has been found to meet established standards of educational excellence and competence. You can be assured that an accredited school will provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in the HVAC/R industry, and also, to make you aware of government regulations surrounding climate control, and teach you how to provide quality customer service. Accreditation lets you know the school is legitimate and provides international credibility.
The most common accrediting organization in the HVAC industry is Partners for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). Another is HVAC Excellence. Their responsibility is to assure that the students will get the training they need to become successful in their careers. Here is a link to an article from the Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration News that provides information about the value of attending an accredited HVAC school training program.
Try our Search Tool for Accredited Schools! Pick HVAC has created a unique search tool designed to help you locate the top Accredited HVAC Schools in Arizona. Just type in your zip code, and you'll instantly see the schools and be given the chance to easily request more information about the ones that interest you.
HVAC Training School Curriculum
HVAC/R training school will teach you all about heating and air conditioning systems, their components, how to install, maintain, inspect, diagnose problems, and repair them. You will also learn about all of the current and trending innovations in the field, how to increase energy efficiency, and about government regulations for these systems.
HVAC School Classes
Below we list some of the kinds of classes you can expect to encounter in HVAC training school. You will spend time in both the classroom and in labs doing hands-on work.
During class you will receive an overview of the basics of HVAC including theory and practices. You will learn how to install, maintain, and repair all types of systems, both residential and commercial. You’ll also have classes in thermodynamic cycles, energy management, and green technology.
Labs will allow you hands-on experience with heating and air conditioning units, allow you to use the appropriate tools, and repair problems.
Here is a list of some typical subjects covered at HVAC training schools:
- Electricity and HVAC electrical systems, motors, wiring, circuits
- Automated HVAC controls
- Refrigeration and air conditioning practices
- Tools used in the HVAC trade and how to use them
- How to calculate the size of the system needed
- How to properly choose ductwork size and proper installation
- Various fuels including natural gas, petroleum, steam, hot water
- Heat Pumps, boilers, zone systems
- Codes, ordinances, safety practices, EPA, OSHA regulations
Acquiring certifications allows you to do specific kinds of work and you will be required to get some of these, depending on the type of work you want to do. You can also earn some certifications without earning a degree, but certificates only cover narrow aspects of the field and are not a substitution for a well-rounded education. So, look carefully at schools offering only certifications.
Next we outline some of the certifications available and what they involve.
Differences between HVAC Certification and Licensing
Licenses and certifications are not the same thing, even though sometimes they are used as if they were. Licenses, always provided by a government office, state that you have passed an exam and are qualified to practice a profession. In some states, you need a license to work. Other states, like Arizona, do not require you to have a license unless you are going to be working with refrigerants. In that case, you will need to get an EPA 608, which is explained below.
Getting certifications is usually voluntary and requires you to take a test to confirm your knowledge and ability in a specific aspect of the industry. These certificates are provided by industry organizations like NATE, rather than the government. Some employers will require you to hold certain certificates to be employed by the company.
Acquiring certifications can act as professional credentials and make you more interesting to employers. Below we list some of the certifications that are available.
- EPA Type I Certification - For servicing small appliances, air conditioners, domestic refrigeration, vending machines
- EPA Type II Certification – For servicing high pressure systems, residential air conditioning and refrigeration units, heat pumps
- EPA Type III Certification – For servicing low pressure systems, chillers
- Universal EPA Certification – Covers all of the above
EPA 608 Certification for Refrigerants
The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 608 Certification is required for any technician who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of appliances that contain regulated refrigerants.
Acquiring the EPA 608 certification indicates that you have passed an exam and understand refrigerants and the refrigerant cycle and are qualified to work in that capacity. As an HVAC/R technician, having an EPA 608 certification, will further advance your career.
NATE stands for North American Technical Excellence and it’s the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians. NATE is owned, operated, and supported by the entire HVAC/R industry. They offer certifications at various levels including those below:
- #1) Ready to Work Certification
- #2) HVAC Support Technician
- #3) NATE Certification: Core and Specialty Tests
- #4) Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification
- #5) Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5)
Get more information on the NATE website.
Licenses for Self-Employment
In Arizona, HVAC/R techs who decide to start their own business must be licensed by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, which requires 4 years of experience before licensing. Applicants must pass a business management exam and an air conditioning and refrigeration trade exam. If you plan to work on solar equipment, you must pass a solar exam.
HVAC/R Professional Organizations
Below is a list of a few of the HVAC/R professional organizations that may be able to provide educational resources, networking, career paths, and training information.
Many of the links connect directly to the local Arizona chapters:
- Electric League of Arizona
- Mechanical Trade Contractors of Arizona
- Air Conditioning Contractors of America
- American Society of Heating, refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- Refrigeration Engineers Society (RSES)
- Women in HVACR
- International Institute of Refrigeration
- Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA)
- HVAC Excellence
- Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Assoc. (RETA)
ONet stands for the Occupational Information Network and is a free on-line site containing occupational definitions, tasks, necessary technical skills and knowledge, and expected work activities for each industry.
The site also includes wages by state, on-line job openings, and other information sources. Here is the link to the ONet HVAC page.