How to Become an HVAC Technician in Arizona
People who choose careers in heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration (HVAC/R) technology receive extensive training that allows them to service, repair and install air conditioners, furnaces, heat pumps, space heaters, evaporative coolers and boilers of all makes and models. They become experts at monitoring and maintaining the complex gas, electrical and refrigeration systems that keep HVAC equipment functioning in the most challenging weather conditions—which are often experienced in Arizona. [Leer en español]
Requirements for Becoming an HVAC Technician in Arizona
The first step in becoming an HVAC technician is to graduate from High School or earn a GED. Although not required, many people choose to complete a formal HVAC training program at a trade school, community college or vocational training institute. These programs typically last one to two years and include classroom instruction as well as hands-on training. Many programs also offer an externship component, which gives students the opportunity to gain real-world-application experience working in an HVAC/R setting.
Initial employment as an HVAC technician in Arizona will require completion of an approved apprenticeship or educational program, or some combination of both. This involves several thousand hours of detailed instruction that will give you the background you need to find work in this field.
Your odds of success will increase dramatically if you pursue professional licensure through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. Four years of experience working as an HVAC technician is required before you can apply for such a license, which will allow you to work in more specialized areas, or become an independent HVAC contractor if you so desire.
To be an HVAC technician, you must have the following skills:
- Good communication skills
- Customer service skills
- Understanding of HVAC tools and equipment
- Ability to use power tools
- Good mechanical aptitude
- Physical strength and stamina
- Exceptional problem-solving skills
- Reading comprehension
- Writing ability
In addition, you must be able to work well under pressure and have the ability to stay calm in stressful situations. You should also be able to follow instructions carefully and be able to work independently.
Apprenticeship Programs and HVAC Schools in Arizona
Once you have completed proper training and education, you will need to find a job in order to gain the experience required to become licensed. The best way to find work is to contact HVAC contractors in your area and inquire about apprenticeship opportunities.
HVAC apprenticeship opportunities for aspiring HVAC techs can be found in all areas of the state and may be offered by labor unions, established HVAC companies or municipal authorities. The Arizona Apprenticeship Office, which is affiliated with the Arizona Department of Economic Security, keeps an active listing of the HVAC apprenticeships that are currently available, but you can also find apprenticeship opportunities on your own by approaching individual contractors or companies.
You also have the option of pursuing a degree in HVAC studies from a community college or technical school, either alone or in addition to serving an apprenticeship. Programs of study accredited by either HVAC Excellence or the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) are especially popular with students seeking approved HVAC training.
Arizona also offers a number of HVAC programs at community colleges and technical schools. These programs can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to become a certified HVAC technician.
Top HVAC schools include:
- GateWay Community College. At its Central City Campus in Phoenix, GateWay’s PAHRA-accredited HVAC program offers three HVAC courses for those interested in pursuing a career as a certified HVAC technician : an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Air Conditioning/Refrigeration/Facilities, a Certificate of Completion in Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Facilities, and a Certificate of Completion in Residential and Light Air Conditioning. The two-year AAS degree program requires 65-71 hours for completion, while the certificate programs require from 22 to 47 credit-hours to complete.
- Arizona Western College. This school in Yuma offers two one-year certificates in two specialties relevant to aspiring HVAC technicians—Air Conditioning and Refrigeration and Basic Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Service. Arizona Western also offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning with a STEM emphasis, for those who want more extensive preparation before seeking employment in the HVAC industry.
- Mohave Community College. With campuses in four cities, Mohave Community College serves a multitude of Arizona residents, including those who plan to pursue careers in heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration. At Mohave, HVAC students can choose from two 18-credit HVAC certificate programs with Residential or Commercial concentrations, or they can pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC and Refrigeration Technology.
Students who meet the criteria may be eligible for financial aid at these schools. For more information, contact the financial assistance office at your chosen institution.
HVAC Certification Requirements and Licensure
There is no licensing or certification required for entry-level jobs in the HVAC/R field in Arizona. However, your chances for advancement might be limited if you don’t eventually acquire a specialized license.
The minimum experience required to apply for an HVAC license in Arizona is four years on the job, and there are three licensure options to choose from:
- C-39: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. This license is primarily for residential work, for those who plan to specialize in the installation, modification and repair of refrigeration and evaporative cooling systems. Having a C-license also qualifies a person to work with solar energy technology.
- C-49: Commercial and Industrial Refrigeration. This license covers the installation, modification and repair of refrigeration systems used to process, store or display food or other perishable items in commercial/industrial settings.
- C-58: Comfort Heating, Ventilating and Evaporative Cooling. Having this license allows a person to install, modify and repair gas furnaces, space heaters, warm-air heating systems, ventilation systems and evaporative cooling units.
In addition to having at least four years of experience with advanced HVAC systems, you’ll need to pass a specific exam tailored for each license. You must possess one or more of these licenses to work on any project with a cost higher than $750 (which covers all installations and a significant percentage of repairs).
One other stipulation is that you must carry official EPA certification to work with refrigerants, such as those used as coolants in air conditioners. This is known as EPA 608 certification, and to receive it you’ll have to pass an exam for one of four categories: Type 1 (for servicing small appliances), Type 2 (for servicing high-pressure appliances), Type 3 (for servicing low-pressure appliances) or Type 4(for servicing all appliances that use refrigerants)
Job Opportunities and Salary Expectations
The demand for HVAC technicians in Arizona is going through a period of rapid expansion, with growth rates that are three to four times greater than in most other states. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 there were 3,780 HVAC workers in Arizona, earning an annual mean wage of $47,590. Mean wages are highest in the Phoenix metropolitan area, at $47,710 annually—with Tucson not far behind at $46,120—and these urban areas feature the highest concentration of jobs.
Wages for HVAC technicians in Arizona are currently lower than the national average, but they should rise significantly in the coming years as a result of anticipated high demand for HVAC service from highly-qualified job applicants who are forecasted to rise by 21 percent between 2018 and 2028.
Arizona’s facility-management industry is exploding, and there are a lot of alternative opportunities for individuals who wish to take the first step towards their HVAC technician career.
Working as an HVAC Technician in Arizona
Extreme summertime heat combined with cold desert nights (especially during the winter) are a reality that all Arizonans must face, and consequently their need for the services of trained HVAC repair and installation experts will never decline.
It takes time to become an HVAC technician, but with the right preparation and the motivation to work hard it is an achievable ambition. A wealth of opportunities await for those who intend to pursue an HVAC career.
There are many employer types that commonly hire HVAC technicians in Arizona, from small businesses and residential property management firms to large commercial entities such as factories, office buildings, retailers, and hospitals. Many of these employers are always searching for talented and certified HVAC technicians, so if you have the right qualifications it shouldn’t be difficult to find work.
Does Arizona require HVAC license?
Yes, licensed HVAC contractors are required to perform work on air conditioning and heating systems in Arizona. The State of Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) regulates the licensing of HVAC contractors.
How do you become an HVAC tech in Arizona?
- 1. Complete an apprenticeship or training program in HVAC studies, or combination of both.
- 2. Gain four years of work experience in an entry-level HVAC job.
- 3. Choose from three HVAC licenses and take the test(s) to earn your license in one or more specialties.
How much do heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers earn in the state of Arizona?
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in the state of Arizona made an average of $47,580 per year in 2019. Entry-level heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers earned around $31,260 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $67,930.