If you want to work as a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning tradesman, you should check with your state about what you’ll need to do. While not all states require a license/certificate to legally work in this field, many do. And the last thing you want is to be working without the proper approvals from your state, risking fines or worse.
While state requirements for HVAC licensure vary, one thing is true across the board. If you were required to get a license/certificate initially, you’ll probably need to do something to renew it on a regular basis. To give you an idea of what to look for as you research your state’s requirements for an HVAC license or certification renewal, we walk through the basics below.
Before we dive in, though, let’s get one thing out of the way. We’re going to refer to you as an HVAC tradesman here, but we know that your state might call you something different (e.g., mechanical tradesman, HACR professional, ACR contractor, etc.). We’re all talking about the same thing: licensing/certification to work on heating and cooling systems.
In most cases, you’ll need to renew your HVAC license somewhere between annually and triennially. To make things even more complicated, your state might have a specific date by which renewal is due (like December 31 for all tradesmen) — or they might vary it from individual to individual. Your renewal might be due on the last day of your birth month, for example.
To give you a rough idea of what to expect, we outlined the renewal timelines for a handful of states below:
||Varies by jurisdiction
Some states require you to get a certain number of work hours as an HVAC tradesman in order to be eligible for renewal. Usually, if you’ve worked anywhere close to full-time in HVAC during the last renewal cycle, you won’t have any trouble meeting this requirement.
Still, though, it’s worth knowing. That way, if you ever plan to take a sabbatical or take some time off to go back to school or pursue a different career, you’ll know if this requirement would be an issue for you when your renewal comes due.
If renewal is required for you, the odds are high that you’re going to need to get some continuing education (CE) as part of the process. This ongoing training requirement is pretty much designed to make sure that HVAC pros are staying in the know about the latest codes, regulations, and best practices.
The good news is that you don’t need a ton of hours, especially compared to other occupational licenses. You’re usually looking at a CE requirement that’s roughly equal to less than one workday per year.
More good news: in a lot of states, you don’t have to go sit in a classroom to get these CE hours. You might have the option to get your CE online so you can take it at your pace and at your convenience.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we outlined the CE requirements for those same states we hit above. The links will take you directly to online CE options for that state.
Note that certain states have certain topics that your CE hours are supposed to hit. Look over the specific requirements that apply to your HVAC license or certificate to make sure any hours you take will count toward your renewal.
To save yourself some headache there, it probably makes sense to double-check that any CE provider you’re considering has approval from your state licensing agency. If they do, they’ve most likely designed courses that automatically comply with the applicable CE requirements.
Once you have the CE and, when applicable, experience hours you need to be eligible for renewal, it really comes down to getting your paperwork in on time. You might want to mark your calendar about a month before your renewal is due so you have time to complete your CE hours and sort out your renewal paperwork.
Exactly what you need to submit for renewal varies from state to state. A lot of states will send out renewal notices in the mail, and renewing might be as simple as completing the attached form and mailing it back. Long story short, make sure your state has the right address on file for you.
Other states will have you submit your renewal application online. If you initially applied for your certificate or license through some online portal, you can probably handle your renewal there.
Online renewal might make things easier for you because you’ll almost definitely need to pay a renewal fee. When you renew online, you can use a credit or debit card to pay that as you submit your renewal. If you send in a paper renewal form, you’ll probably need to include a check or money order for the renewal fee. Most states don’t take cash.
All told, maintaining an HVAC license/certificate isn’t the hardest thing in the world, but it will require you to complete some tasks on a recurring basis. As you go through your next renewal process, you might want to make a note for yourself about how you did it all so everything’s a little easier next time around.
In most states, that’s going to come down to getting the work hours you need, completing the required CE, and submitting your renewal paperwork and fee by your license expiration date. Map out the process now so it’s not a stressful situation as that deadline approaches.