HVAC Certification

Guide to HVAC Certification & Licensing

One of the last, and most-important steps in becoming a heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician is earning your HVAC certification or license. While you may hear differing opinions on the necessity of this step, the truth of the matter is that there are far more reasons to become licensed and certified than there are not to.

Is HVAC Certification & Licensing Mandatory?

Guidelines for HVAC certification and licensing vary from state-to-state and, in many cases, industry-to-industry. In general, however, a good rule of thumb to remember is that your state will determine whether or not it’s mandatory that you become licensed, while employers and industry standards will usually dictate if a certification is required.

State-by-State License Requirements


States That Require an HVAC LicenseStates That Don't Require a License
As of 2014, 33 of the 50 U.S. states require technicians to be licensed before they can legally work. In these states, technicians are usually regulated by their state’s licensing board. The table below highlights the states requiring HVAC technicians to hold a license, and which body oversees the process.

States That Require an HVAC License
State Licensing Body Website
Alabama Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning
& Refrigeration Contractors
Alaska State of Alaska, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/MechanicalAdministrators.aspx
Arizona Arizona Registrar of Contractors www.azroc.gov/l_class.html
Arkansas Arkansas Department of Health www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programsServices/environmentalHealth/ProtectiveHealthCodes/Pages/HVACRTestingInformation.aspx
California California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) www.cslb.ca.gov/
Connecticut Heating, Piping, & Cooling Work Examing Board ct.gov/dcp/cwp/view.asp?a=1624&q=276068&PM=1
Delaware State of Delaware, Division of Professional Regulation dpr.delaware.gov/boards/plumbers/hvacrlicensure.shtml
District of Columbia District of Columbia Board of Industrial Trades www.pearsonvue.com/dc/industrial_trades/
Florida Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/index.html
Georgia Georgia Professional Licensing Boards Division sos.ga.gov/index.php/?section=licensing
Hawaii Hawaii Board of Licensing hawaii.gov/dcca/pvl/boards/contractor/
Indiana State of Indiana Professional Licensing Agency www.in.gov/pla/
Iowa Iowa Department of Public Health, Plumbing & Mechanical Systems Board www.idph.state.ia.us/PMSB/LicensureDetail.aspx?id=DF31CC19-3BFB-473B-90F7-D702F53ABC66
Kansas Kansas Department of Revenue www.ksrevenue.org/
Louisiana Louisiana Licensing Board for Contractors www.lslbc.louisiana.gov/
Maryland Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation www.dllr.state.md.us/license/hvacr/
Massachusetts Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security www.mass.gov/eopss/consumer-prot-and-bus-lic/license-type/refrigeration/refrigeration-technician-license.html
Michigan LARA Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs www.michigan.gov/lara/0,4601,7-154-35299_10575_33813_33819-45140–,00.html
Mississippi Mississippi State Board of Contractors www.msboc.us/
Nebraska Nebraska Department of Labor dol.nebraska.gov/center.cfm?PRICAT=2&SUBCAT=5G
Nevada Nevada State Contractors Board www.nvcontractorsboard.com/contractor_license_requirements.html
New Mexico New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department www.rld.state.nm.us/construction/Mechanical_Plumbing.aspx
North Carolina North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire
Sprinkler Contractors
North Dakota North Dakota Secretary of State sos.nd.gov/business/contractors
Oregon Oregon Apprenticeship and Training Division www.oregon.gov/boli/atd/pages/a_ctrades_hvaccont.aspx
Rhode Island Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training www.dlt.ri.gov/profregs/MechLawsRules.htm
South Carolina South Carolina Residential Builders Commission www.llr.state.sc.us/pol/residentialbuilders/index.asp?file=HVAC.htm
Tennessee Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance www.tn.gov/regboards/contractors/
Texas Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation www.tdlr.texas.gov/acr/acr.htm
Utah Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing www.dopl.utah.gov/licensing/contracting.html
Virginia Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation www.dpor.virginia.gov/Boards/Tradesmen/
Washington Washington State Department of Labor and Industries www.lni.wa.gov/tradeslicensing/
West Virginia West Virginia Division of Labor Contractor Licensing www.wvlabor.com/newwebsite/pages/contractor_licensing.html

States That Don’t Require an HVAC License

The 17 states appearing in the following list do not require HVAC professionals to hold a license.

  • Colorado
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Types of Certifications

As stated above, the industry you work in and, sometimes your employer, usually determine which types of certifications you need for a specific type of job. The following provides a brief look at some of the major certifications that an HVAC technician may be expected to carry.

EPA Technician Certification

It is a federal requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that anyone who works with the types of ozone-depleting substances used in most central cooling units be certified under Section 608. This is a nationally-recognized certification and you will be required to hold it before becoming eligible to work on any air conditioning or refrigeration systems.

HVAC Excellence

One of the largest nationally-recognized certifying organizations in the U.S., HVAC Excellence offers training and certification in a wide range of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry areas. Certificates available from this organization include:

  • Certified Subject Matter Educator
  • Employment Ready Certifications
  • E.A.T. and H.E.A.T. Plus
  • Master Specialist Certifications
  • Professional Level Certifications
  • Specialty Certifications

National Occupational Competency Testing Institute

The NOTCI offers training and testing in conjunction with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Educational Foundation (PHCC) to provide HVAC-R certifications. Exams offered both online and at approved testing centers.

North American Technician Excellence

Commonly referred to as NATE, this organization specializes in HVACR certifications and is recognized by virtually all employers around the country. This body has been in existence since 1997, and identifies itself as the largest certifier of HVAC technicians in the U.S.


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