An HVAC certification sets a standard for safety, professionalism, and quality in your field.
In many US states, getting HVAC certified is a necessity in order to start an HVAC business or work in the field. In other cases, you might have to work under a licensed HVAC contractor before you can get your certification.
Regardless of where you’re at, having your HVAC license can be a huge advantage to you as an HVAC technician, especially if you want to level-up your skills and really master your craft. There are multiple ways it can benefit you in the long run.
Let’s get started helping you get HVAC certified.
In this how to get HVAC certified guide you’ll learn:
What is an HVAC technician certification?
A certification means HVAC technicians are trained and qualified to conduct installation and repair work within their state. To get certified, technicians take a knowledge-based exam to test their understanding of the HVAC industry.
Depending on what state or country you’re in, there might be different requirements for you to work in HVAC, run your HVAC business, or to be considered a professional HVAC technician.
Some states require technicians to become licensed and certified by passing exams (for example, certification is required in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Arizona).
There’s also an optional federal certification in the United States. The US federal government regulates certification in the Code of Federal Regulations Section 608 of the Clean Air Act.
Section 608 Technician Certification
The Code of Federal Regulations Section 608 of the Clean Air Act states that “technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release ozone-depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere must be certified.”
Technicians are required to pass an EPA-approved test to earn Section 608 Technician Certification, which are industry and equipment-specific tests. Tests must be administered by an EPA-approved certifying organization. Once you get your certification, it doesn’t expire.
Refrigerants provide cooking for air conditioning and refrigerator units, and they can be harmful to the environment. There is no federal law mandating this certification for HVAC technicians, but if you’re working in the industry, you’re expected to know the rules of compliance to protect yourself and the environment when dealing with refrigerants.
If you’re interested in getting certified, here’s a list of approved section 608 technician certification programs.
To help you prepare and study, use these example test topics for the EPA-approved exam.
When it comes to your personal safety, there’s no hard and fast course requirement but some employers might require you to take the US Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training course. After all, it won’t hurt you to know too much about workplace safety.
Why get an HVAC license?
Even if your state doesn’t require you to get HVAC certified, there are still benefits to getting your license:
- It’s expected when you work at some companies
- You’ll be able to work quicker because certifications often mean you work an apprenticeship which will give you valuable, hands-on experience
- In the coming years, there will be a lot more HVAC technicians in the field. That means that having an HVAC certification will give you a leg up on the competition down the road.
- A certification can also allow you to charge more for services; clients will pay for peace of mind of working with a certified technician.
Whether it’s mandatory or not, getting HVAC certified is one of the best tools an HVAC professional can have.
HVAC license requirements by state
See the list below for HVAC license requirements by state from HVAC Classes. If your state does not have any state-wide license requirements, remember that requirements are often made at a local level. It’s possible your local government will have its own requirements.
Pro Tip: Add HVAC Classes to your bookmarks — it’s one of the best HVAC resources available for HVAC students and pros alike.
How long does it take to get HVAC certified?
It can take between six months to two years to get HVAC certified through an apprenticeship program or up to five years through an HVAC appreciation program. The certification process depends on the type of course you’re taking and the type of path you’re taking to HVAC certification.
Here are the steps you need to take to certification:
1: Get your high school diploma if you haven’t already.
There are various options for step 2.
2a: If you want, you can complete an accredited HVAC program. Many of them also include certification for Section 608.
This could take six months to two years to complete.
2b: Complete an HVAC appreciation program. This can take three to five years to complete. These programs are often run jointly by local organizations.
Apprenticeship is a great way to get on-the-job training. After working as an apprentice, it’s common to move on to a journeyman role.
At this level, there’s less supervision so HVAC technicians can get a sense of what it would be like working on their own.
Getting an HVAC certification in Canada
Canada’s HVAC certification is mandated on a provincial level.
In Ontario for example, HVAC is a regulated trade. This means that the Ontario College of Trades has training rules and exams. HVAC students complete a set number of training hours, complete an apprenticeship, and then pass an exam.
As another example HVAC technicians in British Columbia must have a Certificate of Qualification as a Refrigeration Mechanic or they must be a registered apprentice.
Another option to get HVAC certified in Canada is to complete your Red Seal examination. It sets common standards of skills of tradespeople across the country (meaning certifications are transferable from province to province). The Red Seal program is responsible for apprenticeship training and certification.
Here are some resources to help you on your way to get HVAC certified in Canada:
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