If you want to join the HVAC business, look no further than the sunshine state. The industry has already seen a steady increase and is projected to continue climbing. By the year 2030, the industry is expected to see a 5.6% compounded annual growth rate.
With average temperatures continuing to rise, the need for HVAC professionals is rising more than ever, making Florida a great place to launch your career as an HVAC contractor.
The process of becoming an HVAC technician is pretty straightforward. You just have to get your Florida HVAC license. We’ll cover everything you need to know to do that:
- Do you need a license to be an HVAC contractor in Florida?
- Types of HVAC licenses in Florida
- Florida HVAC license requirements
- How do I get an HVAC license in Florida?
- Florida HVAC license exam
- Reciprocity agreements with other states
- How much does it cost to get an HVAC license in Florida?
- Do I need to renew my HVAC license?
- What happens if my HVAC license expires?
- Requirements for business owners
- Does an HVAC license increase your earning potential?
Bookmark this page and check it whenever you have a question about HVAC licensing in Florida.
Do you need a license to be an HVAC contractor in Florida?
Yes, you will need an air conditioning contractor’s license if you want to work as an HVAC contractor in Florida. With this license, you’re able to install, maintain, repair, fabricate, alter, extend, or design central air-conditioning, refrigeration, heating, and ventilation systems, including some duct work.
HVAC contractors are limited to the type of work they can do with the contractor’s license. They can’t work on the following:
- petroleum or natural gas fuel lines
- potable water lines or connections
- sanitary sewer lines
- swimming pool piping and filters
- electrical power wiring
All licenses are issued by the Construction Industry Licensing Board within the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
Types of HVAC licenses in Florida
There are different contractor tiers and class types for HVAC licenses. Depending on your experience level and area of service, you can be classified as a certified or registered contractor.
Which license do you need? It depends on where you’ll be working.
- Certified contractor license: pass the state licensing exam and you can work anywhere in Florida
- Registered contractor license: if you register a certificate of competency in a specific county or municipality instead, you’ll be limited to performing services within the local area where you’re registered
The class types for each are:
- Class A air-conditioning contractor (ACC): has no limitations on the types of projects they’re allowed to work on, so can perform services on units of any size
- Class B air-conditioning contractor (ACC): can only perform services on units less than 25 tons of cooling and 500,000 BTU of heating within one system
Florida HVAC license requirements
While there are specific requirements for each license, in general, you’ll need to fulfill the following:
- Be at least 18 years of age
- Obtain a high school diploma or GED
- Meet the training/experience requirements
- Pass the exam
- Pay all applicable fees
- Obtain worker’s compensation coverage
Once you meet all of the requirements above for your preferred license, you are eligible to take the Florida State Construction Examination to receive your license.
How do I get an HVAC license in Florida?
There are a few steps you have to take to earn an HVAC license in Florida.
- Complete a training program by attending an accredited HVAC program or finding an apprenticeship. HVAC programs vary in length based on the program you choose, but most are 2 years max. HVAC apprenticeships can take 3 to 5 years to complete.
- Take the construction licensure exam after the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board has reviewed and approved your application. Your application must be received no later than 30 days before the exam date.
- Obtain HVAC contractor insurance: at least $100,000 in liability insurance and $25,000 in property damage insurance. The required amount depends on your license level.
- Submit a background check and credit report. If you have a credit score lower than 660, you’ll need to complete a 14-hour board-approved financial responsibility course. Proof of course completion will need to be included in your application.
The time it takes to earn your HVAC license depends on which license you apply for and the route you choose for education. In general, the process of receiving an HVAC license in Florida can take anywhere from six months to five years.
Florida HVAC license exam
Florida’s construction licensure exam has 2 components: a trade knowledge exam and business and finance knowledge exam.
The Class A certified contractor license exam has 130 questions, whereas the Class B certified contractor license exam only has 80 questions. Both exams test your knowledge in the following areas:
- Sheet Metal Ducts
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Equipment Components
- Maintenance Analysis of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems
- Maintenance Service of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems
- Safety & Equipment
If you’re interested in a registered HVAC license, you won’t have to complete the same education and testing required for a certified technician. However, you will have to complete an exam that’s administered by local officials.
After applying for an exam, you’ll receive an admission slip with all the testing details 20-25 days before your exam. It’s important that you attend your exam on the scheduled date, as exam fees are non-refundable. The exam registration and testing procedure is run by Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
If you attended a 4-year university and majored in building construction, you might not have to take the full exam. As of July 1, 2020, exam candidates who have received a baccalaureate degree in building construction from an accredited four-year college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher are exempt from taking the exam’s trade knowledge portion. The only part of the exam you still need to take is the Business and Finance portion.
All sections of the exam need to be passed within four years of your first attempt to receive your license. In the event that you do not show up for a scheduled exam, you will be marked as a no-show and receive a ‘Fail’ grade.
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Reciprocity agreements with other states
If you’re a licensed contractor outside of Florida, your license might be accepted without going through the entire process of obtaining your Florida license. As of June 1, 2021, Florida has reciprocity agreements with two states: Louisiana and North Carolina.
If applying via reciprocity, applicants should request a licensing form from their state to show their license is in good standing.
How much does it cost to get an HVAC license in Florida?
Costs to get licensed as an HVAC contractor vary depending on the training path you take and the exam method you choose (paper-based or computer-based testing).
Overall, here are the costs you can expect to get your license:
- Registered Contractor Fee: $309 for applications received between May 1 of an EVEN year and August 31 of an ODD year; $209 for applications received between September 1 of an ODD year and April 30 of an EVEN year
- Certified Contractor Fee: $245 for applications received between May 1 of an EVEN year and August 31 of an ODD year; $145 for applications received between September 1 of an ODD year and April 30 of an EVEN year
- Education: The training route you choose to take will determine your educational costs. Certificate programs can cost as little as $600, whereas more extensive training such as a 4-year degree would cost $15,000 per year.
- Exam: Registration for the license exams cost $135. If you take a paper-based test, there is an additional $80 exam site admin fee and $80 Business and Finance exam fee. For computer-based tests, there will be additional fees for each exam type, which ranges between $40 and $80.
- Background check: $25
You can expect fees for insurance and for taking the financial responsibility courses, if required.
Do I need to renew my HVAC license?
Yes, you’ll need to renew your HVAC license every 2 years to ensure your license is valid. The expiration date for all licenses is Aug 31st. The year in which your license expires is dependent on what type of license you have.
- Certified contractors: Aug 31st of EVEN years
- Registered contractors: Aug 31st of ODD years
The Department of Business and Professional Regulations will send you a notice when your license is nearing its expiration date. You can expect this notice anywhere from 90 to 120 days before expiration.
In order to renew your license, you’ll need to pay the renewal fee and complete the continuing education requirement to ensure your skills are up to date. The renewal fee is $205, plus an additional $50 for qualified businesses.
HVAC contractors must complete 14 hours of continued education every two years, and this has to include 1-hour of each of the following:
- A specialized or advanced module
- Workplace safety
- Business practices
- Workers’ compensation
- Laws and rules
The remaining hours can be any construction-related course approved by the board.
What happens if my HVAC license expires?
There’s no penalty if your license expires and you’re not conducting any work. But if your license expires and you continue to work, you will likely face severe consequences.
If found to be acting as a contractor with an expired license, you could face a first-degree misdemeanor. This can be punishable by up to one year of imprisonment, 12-month probation, and a $1,000 fine. If an individual is convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor and continues to perform as a contractor, they will then face a third-degree felony which faces imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of $5,000.
It’s best to stay up to date on the license renewal process to avoid these consequences.
Requirements for business owners
If you’re looking to start your own HVAC business, there are additional steps you’ll need to take.
Beyond obtaining your HVAC license, you’ll need to apply for a small business license. In the United States, you can apply for this through the Small Business Administration. After applying, you’ll receive your business’ tax ID.
From there, you’ll need to insure your business. You’re required to have liability insurance as an HVAC contractor, but you’ll also need business insurance.
Here are some types business insurance you might need:
- General liability insurance
- Commercial automobile insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Professional liability insurance
- Equipment insurance
- Property insurance
- Worker’s compensation insurance
- Auto insurance (in the event you have company vehicles)
The specific amounts will vary based on your business, but it’s best to make sure you’re completely covered.
After insurance, you’ll need to acquire the necessary permits. In Florida, you’ll need a Mechanical permit to perform any HVAC services. If the project you’re working on is valued at over $7,500, you’ll need to submit a Notice of Commencement in your application. Permit fees vary depending on the specifics of the project.
Does an HVAC license increase your earning potential?
Yes, getting an HVAC license in Florida improves your earning potential. The HVAC certification proves that you’re educated and trained on how to do high-quality HVAC work, making you more likely to get hired. A majority of HVAC work can’t be completed unless you have a license, so to get the most out of this career path, it’s in your best interest to be licensed.
Along with being licensed, your years of experience help increase your earning potential. On average, HVAC contractors in Florida tend to see a 22% salary increase after gaining three years of experience. Your earning potential as a contractor continues to grow the more experience you gain.
Want to know how much your HVAC experience is worth? Want to see how much you can make in other states? Check out our HVAC Salary Guide to find answers to your HVAC career questions. Understand your worth as a contractor with geographical and job title averages. Plus, get insights into how experience can impact your earning potential.
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