< Back to blog

How to get HVAC license in 2024: A comprehensive guide

A fuchsia drawing of someone magnifying a search bar.

If you want to get started in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, obtaining a license is your first step. 

This comprehensive guide will steer you through the entire process, from understanding the basics of an HVAC license to navigating state-specific requirements and exploring various career opportunities in the industry. 

You’ll dive into a detailed exploration of: 

  • Educational paths.
  • Work experience. 
  • Examination protocols.
  • The steps necessary to secure your certification.

Let’s get started!

What is an HVAC license?

An HVAC license certifies that technicians have met the required professional standards to install, maintain, and repair HVAC systems. In most states, it is a legal requirement for HVAC technicians to hold a license to ensure they comply with safety regulations and are capable of handling hazardous materials safely, such as refrigerants or other possible toxins.

Most jurisdictions mandate that HVAC professionals are licensed to legally operate. This involves:

  • Proof of completed education and training programs.
  • Acquiring an HVAC qualifier certification.
  • Ongoing adherence to state and federal regulations.
  • Verification of hands-on work experience.
  • Compliance with safety and environmental regulations.

What are the types of HVAC licenses?

Various types of HVAC licenses cater to different roles within the industry, such as technician, contractor, and specialist.

  • Technician license: Allows for installation and repair of HVAC equipment.
  • Contractor license: Permits the management of HVAC projects and the operation of an HVAC business.
  • Specialist license: Focuses on specific systems like refrigeration or solar HVAC systems.

What are the HVAC license requirements?

Obtaining an HVAC license involves several general requirements that ensure the competency of technicians across the board.

Basic educational qualifications

Before entering the field, one must typically meet these educational standards:

  • High school diploma or GED.
  • Certified courses in HVAC technology at a community college or technical school.

Required experience or apprenticeships

Practical experience is crucial for prospective HVAC professionals. Here are a few ways you can gain practical experience:

  • Take an apprenticeship under a licensed HVAC contractor.
  • Collaborate on smaller jobs that involve HVAC work experience.
  • Seek co-op opportunities in your studies.

Tips to secure and complete an apprenticeship program in HVAC technology include:

  • Connect with local trade organizations.
  • Submit all necessary documentation, including proof of training.
  • Apply through vocational schools and community colleges.
  • Obtain endorsements for specific types of equipment or systems.

Overview of the examination process

The licensing exam is a pivotal step in the certification process. It involves:

  1. Registration for the exam through your state’s department of professional services.
  2. Submission of an application fee.

From there, your state department will contact you with relevant information to write your exam (i.e., time and date). Exam details include:

  • Multiple-choice questions on installation, maintenance, and safety regulations.
  • Questions testing your electrical knowledge.
  • Practical tests on equipment handling.
  • Location-specific questions on codes and requirements in your state.

Grow your field service business with automation.

How to get an HVAC license in 5 steps

Achieving licensure takes a bit of time, but it’s well-worth working towards to launch your HVAC career. This section covers how to get an HVAC license in five straightforward steps.

Step 1: Complete educational requirements

The first step for HVAC contractors to get their license is to meet the specific educational prerequisites, which include:

  1. HVAC certification programs.
  2. Specialized training in areas like energy efficiency and systems control.

Comparison of training options:

  • Online programs offer flexibility but lack hands-on experience.
  • In-person training provides valuable real-world skills but may require more time and money.

Consider educational progams where you can qualify for additional certifications to enhance your expertise and chances of getting licensed.

Step 2: Gain hands-on experience

Experience in the field is invaluable, so you’ll want to get as much as you can without needing a license. The two main ways to accomplish this are to:

  • Seek apprenticeships with reputable HVAC companies.
  • Look for internship opportunities through your educational institution.

Step 3: Prepare for the licensing exam

Preparation for the exam should be thorough. Ensure that you:

  • Utilize study guides and online resources.
  • Focus on subjects like electrical codes, HVAC theory, and refrigeration systems.

Step 4: Apply for the license

When ready, the application process begins:

  1. Gather necessary documents, including proof of education and experience.
  2. Verify your identity and qualifications during the application process.
  3. Submit the application to the relevant state board. You can visit their in-office location or their website to apply.

Step 5: Pass the examination

Finally, it’s time to pass the required HVAC certification exams. To successfully acquire your license, you must:

  • Study for the licensing exam using approved materials.
  • Understand the format and duration of the test.
  • Be prepared for a possible retake if necessary.

Once licensed, you’re still not completely off the hook, as you’ll eventually need to renew your license. Best practices are to: 

  • Attend continuing education courses to maintain licensure.
  • Document your work experience for license renewal applications.
  • Renew your HVAC license every few years as required.

Grow your field service business with automation.

What are the state-specific licensing requirements?

Requirements for an HVAC license can vary significantly from one state to another, reflecting local climatic and regulatory differences.

For example, in Wisconsin, you need to go to the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) in person or online. There, you can complete the application process, which includes a fee. Fees in other states vary, but the process is similar across all of the U.S.

For your state, ensure that you:

  • Meet the experience requirements set by the licensing authority.
  • Apply for the HVAC license through the state board.
  • Consult local HVAC professionals for guidance.

How to maintain and advance your HVAC license?

To maintain your HVAC license, you’ll have to recertify periodically to keep up with industry standards. 

Also, continuing education is key to advancing your licensing and in your HVAC career in general. It’s beneficial to:

  • Attend workshops and seminars to stay updated on the latest HVAC technologies and standards.
  • Pursue additional certifications that can broaden your expertise and service offerings.

Career opportunities and growth in the HVAC industry

Licensed HVAC technicians have a wide array of career paths available, from working as independent contractors to managing large commercial projects — independently or across different companies.

Opportunities for licensed HVAC technicians include:

  • More job prospects.
  • Potential for career advancement through specialization and management roles.
  • New skillsets from emerging trends like green technologies and smart HVAC systems.

Key takeaways

Remember that you can successfully obtain your HVAC license and launch your career in the industry by:

  • Completing educational requirements.
  • Gaining hands-on experience.
  • Preparing for and passing the licensing exam.
  • Adhering to state-specific regulations.

Now that you know how to get your HVAC license, there’s nothing standing in your way to success!

How to get HVAC license: Frequently asked questions

Can you do HVAC work without a license?

Working without a license can result in significant legal issues and penalties, particularly in states or cities with strict HVAC regulations.

How long does it take to become a master HVAC technician?

Becoming a master HVAC Technician typically requires several years of education and hands-on experience, culminating in advanced certification exams.

Can you do HVAC work without a license in California?

In California, doing HVAC work without a proper license is illegal, with strict penalties for non-compliance.

See how Method:Field Services takes the stress out of your HVAC admin work.

Streamline your business with Method

Start your free trial — no credit card, no contract.