Arizona HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Arizona
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It takes time, perseverance, and a lot of practice to learn how to work in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and Arizona employs 10,000 of them.
Employment is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 throughout the country, adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks., That growth rate is expected to be much higher in Arizona — projected at a whopping 21%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website.
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That statistic is supported by how many contractors are trying to find skilled tradesmen. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 79% of firms in Arizona had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. So, if you get the training you need, you will have a lot of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. And, as more of an emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to comply with these new standards. Licensing requirements for HVAC contractors vary from state to state and in some cases, from locality to locality. Arizona is fairly uniform statewide, but in some parts of the state, you may have to be registered or licensed locally as well. Being unlicensed is illegal.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Arizona
Is a license required to work as an HVAC Contractor in Arizona? Yes.
To legally perform heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work of more than $1,000 in the state of Arizona, you must be a licensed contractor or an apprentice or technician working under someone who is a licensed contractor. HVACR Contractor licenses are issued through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC).
The state does not license technicians, but some of Arizona’s cities do license at the journeyman level so you always want to check with the jurisdiction where you intend to work to make sure you’re following any local requirements. For instance, the city of Phoenix licenses HVAC professionals as journeyman or apprentices as described in the building code.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Arizona
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Arizona?
According to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, there are three types of statewide HVACR Contractor licenses available.
Specialty Commercial C-39 Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
Specialty Residential R-39 Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, including Solar
Specialty Dual CR-39 Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
You are required to have at least four years of experience for each of these licenses and you must take and pass the Statutes and Rules Exam and the applicable Trade Exam. The type of work you intend to do will determine the license you seek.
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Arizona
Be at least 18 years of age.
Attend formal HVAC diploma or certificate program or earn a two-year associate degree at a community college; or
Get a formal apprenticeship through a local union or trade organization or an informal apprenticeship through a sponsoring employer as an entry-level worker supervised by a licensed contractor.
Acquire four years of experience for any of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration licenses — Commercial, Residential, or Dual.
Take the Statutes and Rules Exam and the applicable Trade Exam paying the fees for each.
Complete all licensure requirements, including: pass the necessary examination(s), submit to background checks, form a legal entity — sole proprietorship (individual), a partnership, limited liability company or a corporation.
LLCs and corporations are required to register with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Partnerships are required to register with the Arizona Secretary of State.
Obtain and submit proof of a license bond.
Pay application fees.
Receive your statewide license and renew it every two years.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Arizona
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Arizona HVAC Contractor license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Arizona to be licensed through the state to perform heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration work or you must work for someone who is licensed.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed HVAC contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects.
Having a license protects your company and customers.
A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Median Salary for an HVAC Professional in Arizona?
The annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers in Arizona is $49,100, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a little lower than the Bureau says the national annual mean wage of $53,410 is for that type of employment. According to indeed.com, those salaries increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $23.20 per hour in Arizona and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $22.81 per hour in Arizona and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $25.31 per hour in Arizona and $5,875 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $79,949 per year in Arizona and $11,250 overtime per year.
Salary can vary widely depending on the city where you work and other factors like education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC Contractor License in Arizona?
If you want to get started in the field, you will most likely want to attend a vocational school or technical or community college for a certificate program or Associate of Applied Science degree. You will have that expense of schooling upfront. If you decide to go after an apprenticeship, you may encounter some fees but, usually, your employer covers the cost. You’ll also be paid a portion of a journeyman-level wage and that salary will increase as you learn.
The union apprenticeship offered through Local UA Plumbers and Pipefitters 469 in Phoenix is a five-year program that costs a total of $5,200, but you are earning wages from your first day on the job and, as a member of the union, you have the protections and benefits offered to all dues-paying members.
The Arizona contractor licensing fees vary. The application fee for Specialty Commercial is $100 and the license fee is $480 for a total of $580. The application fee for Specialty Residential is $80, the license fee is $270, and the recovery fund assessment is $370 for a total of $720. The application fee for Specialty Dual (meaning both residential and commercial) is $100, the license fee is $380, and the recovery fund assessment is $370 for a total of $850. Each of these licenses must be renewed every two years. The renewal fees are: Specialty Commercial $480, Specialty Residential $540, and Specialty Dual $650.
Examination fees are not included. Each exam is $66 if taken separately, $116 for two portions, $156 including the Solar portion.
How to Get an HVAC License in Arizona
Because HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex, most aspiring HVAC professionals opt to get some post-secondary education. Alternately, you could begin with an apprenticeship that will combine hands-on training with classroom instruction and usually takes four to five years. The bottom line is that you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience required for licensure.
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors offers free virtual monthly Applicant Education Seminars to help you navigate the process and answer any questions you have. They also have a step-by-step guide on “Applying for a License” on the website.
WORK EXPERIENCE/QUALIFYING PARTY: Step one will be to get the four years of work experience required to apply. You have to identify a qualifying party for the license. A Qualifying Party is a regularly employed person with the necessary experience, knowledge, and skills. You can be that person for an employer or a business you own yourself or with a partner. The Qualifying Party must meet or exceed the license classification requirements for the license for which they are applying.
The License Classification Requirements form provides the minimum number of years of experience and the types of examinations required for a Qualifying Party to be eligible for a specific license classification. For the HVACR licenses, that’s four years and both the Statutes and Rules Exam and the Trade Exam.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The Qualifying Party must pass the required examinations by at least 70% and submit the exam results. The Qualifying Party must complete the AZ SRE Statutes and Rules Exam as well as a specific trade exam, unless eligible for a waiver.
BACKGROUND CHECK: The Applicant and Qualifying Party must submit copies of the payment transaction receipt from their background checks. Click here to learn more and to submit a background check.
FORM LEGAL ENTITY: In Arizona, a license may be issued to a sole proprietorship (individual), a partnership, limited liability company or a corporation. LLCs and corporations are required to register with the Arizona Corporation Commission. Partnerships are required to register with the Arizona Secretary of State.
BOND: The applicant must obtain and submit proof of a license bond. For information on determining bonding requirements and to download a comprehensive list of all businesses licensed to offer surety products in this State by the Arizona Department of Insurance, click this link.
PROVIDE GOVERNMENT-ISSUED IDENTIFICATION: Both the Applicant and the Qualifying Party in the License Application must submit a copy of their government-issued identification such as a valid driver’s license or passport with the application.
COMPLETE AND SUBMIT APPLICATION AND FEES: Complete and submit a License Application Form, including all of the above documentation and the appropriate fees to the Registrar using one of the following methods:
Mail to: Registrar of Contractors, P.O. Box 6748, Phoenix, AZ 85005-6748
Deliver to: 1700 W. Washington Street, Suite 105, Phoenix, AZ 85007-2812
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Arizona?
It will take a minimum of four years to qualify to take the Specialty Contractors license exam and apply for your license in Arizona, but you will have most likely spent some time taking classes first or an apprenticeship will likely take five years. As an apprentice, you will be earning a wage as you learn what you need to pass the state licensing exam. Likewise, if you take classes first as part of a certificate program or earn an Associate degree, you’ll still need to acquire the required four years of experience and you’ll be getting paid while you do.
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Arizona HVAC Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Arizona, and they are located all over the state.
There are currently two main organizations that approve HVAC programs and schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA). There are currently no programs in Arizona accredited by HVAC Excellence.
PARAH has accredited one — Gateway Community College in Phoenix.
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements and tuition costs for that program and several others.
Here are four great lists of the best HVAC schools in Arizona:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Arizona
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Tuition: The Cost of Tuition depends on the program you choose. The Associate in Applied Science program at Gateway Community College mentioned above costs about $6,500. The certificate program for light residential and commercial air conditioning costs about $2,100.
Apprenticeship: There are several apprenticeship opportunities to get the training you need in Arizona. The Union Apprenticeship offered through UA Local 649 is five years long, consisting of 10 semesters. Each semester costs $520. The expectation is that the students work during the day and attend classes twice a week in the evenings. Those outside of the greater Phoenix area may have the option of attending class on Saturday. Apprentices in the program typically take their code license exam near the end of their fifth year. The pay is a portion of the journeyman wage and increases each year.
Arizona’s Department of Economic Security also maintains a website of Registered Apprenticeships that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeships through the Department of Labor are recognized nationwide, so your credentials will move with you. Or you can simply look for an entry-level position on indeed or zip recruiter or another job board and work for a licensed contractor to learn on the job.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need to have good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have some mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing, and working in tight spaces.
Arizona HVAC Licensing Exam Details
The examination is administered by PSI testing services. To prepare, PSI suggests:
Start with a current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the examination content outline as the basis of your study.
Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline.
Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory and it is also an excellent business practice. Discuss new terms or concepts as frequently as you can with colleagues. This will test your understanding and reinforce ideas.
Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes. Concentration tends to wander when you study for longer periods of time.
Each exam is described in detail including the number of questions and the time limit to complete it.
The AZ Statutes and Rules Examination (which is also a business management exam) covers:
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Statutes
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Rules
Arizona Registrar of Contractors Workmanship Standards Business Management
Contracts and Agreements
Insurance and Bonding
Safety, Recordkeeping, and Reporting
Labor Laws and Employment Regulations
Environmental Laws and Regulations
Each of the trade exams for Air Conditioning and Refrigeration includes questions about:
Warm Air Heating
Controls and Motors
Fuel Piping Systems
Water Piping Systems
Steam, Hot, Chilled, and Condensing Water
Testing, Balancing, and Inspections
Sizing and Estimating
The Bulletin will also specify which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing center. There are five PSI testing centers in Arizona and they are located in Flagstaff, Glendale, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson.
Who Issues HVAC Contractor Licenses in Arizona?
Air conditioning and refrigeration licenses are issued through the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC). Some of Arizona’s cities license at the journeyman level as well. Be sure to check with local governments where you intend to work to make sure you meet any additional licensing or permitting requirements.
Does My Arizona HVAC Contractor License Work in Any Other State?
No, but Arizona does allow open endorsement with all states where the applicant holds a similar license. In other words, contractors with licenses in other states with comparable licensing requirements may apply for a waiver. The Registrar may decide a trade exam is not required where the qualifying party has been the qualifying party within the preceding five years for a license in good standing in the same classification in this state, or a classification the Registrar deems comparable in another state. The AZ SRE Statutes and Rules Exam cannot be waived because it has reference to Arizona-specific statutes and rules.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Arizona, federal-level EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere must be certified. EPA Section 608 HVAC Certification is required for any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air conditioning systems.
Most training programs can direct you to how and where to get that certification, or your employer will require you to get it before handling refrigerant. You can also go to EPA.gov and key in 608 Certification in the search bar to find out which institutions in your state offer certification programs.
Take Certification Exam: You must acquire your EPA Certification from an approved organization. A list of these organizations can be found on the EPA’s website. There are four types of EPA Certifications for Refrigerant. They allow for different levels of certification for different scopes of work.
Type I – for servicing small appliances containing five pounds of refrigerant or less.
Type II – for servicing high-pressure units that contain five pounds or more of refrigerant (including most small commercial and residential systems).
Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances.
Universal – for servicing all systems and appliances covered under Types I, II, and III. Generally more useful than targeting any one specific certification.
Core Exam: For all certifications, you must pass the “Core Section” of the EPA certification exam. It covers the following topics:
Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol
Section 608 regulations
Substitute refrigerants and oils
The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim)
National HVAC Certifications
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) certification, and other professional certifications are not required but can add to your marketability as a service provider and therefore increase your opportunity to make more money.
There is currently no continuing education requirement to renew your Arizona Specialty Contractor license for air conditioning and refrigeration. You must renew your license every two years and pay the associated fees. To renew a Specialty Commercial license costs $480. There is no Recovery Fund Assessment for Commercial contractors. That assessment is required only for Residential contractors. The fee to renew a Specialty Residential license is $270 plus an additional $270 recovery fund assessment. For the Dual Specialty license, you will pay a $380 license fee and again the $270 recovery fund assessment.
Other Requirements Unique to Arizona
The Recovery Fund is a form of financial protection provided by licensed Arizona residential contractors to residential homeowners. In order to obtain a license, a residential contractor must post a cash deposit or surety bond of $4,250 to $15,000. In addition, a residential contractor must either pay into the recovery fund or post a second bond of $200,000. The vast majority of residential contractors have chosen to participate in the fund.
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