Starting an HVAC business in Illinois is easier than you think. Get your start in the industry by obtaining your Illinois HVAC license. In this guide, you’ll learn about licensing requirements and the benefits of the profession.
No, Illinois does not require a state license. However, to open an HVAC contracting business, you will need a business license.
The following organizations issue HVAC certifications: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the North American Technical Excellence (NATE) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineering (ASHRAE).
Anyone who works with refrigerants must obtain the EPA certification. The EPA offers four levels of certification:
Type I for servicing small appliances
Type II for servicing or disposing of high to very-high pressure appliances
Type II for servicing low-pressure appliance
Universal, covering all three types
All applicants must pass the EPA's core section, which covers knowledge on ozone, depletion, the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol, and Section 608 regulations. This certification never expires.
NATE certifications are more comprehensive than EPA certifications. You'll find four different types of NATE license certifications:
Ready-to-Work Certificate: An entry-level exam available online focusing on essential job skills
HVAC Support Technician: A certificate for technicians working toward advancing within the profession
Core and Specialty Test: A certificate for technicians with at least two years of experience
Senior Level Efficiency Analyst: A certificate for technicians seeking the highest NATE designation. Applicants must hold at least two NATE certifications before taking the exam.
HVAC designers and engineers create comfortable indoor environments. Certified HVAC Designer is one of the most popular. This designation demonstrates your ability to size equipment properly, perform load calculations, and create piping design.
Because Illinois does not have designations for apprentice, journeyman or master HVAC professionals, pay varies. Entry-level technicians earn about $32,460 per year. The most highly experienced technicians earn as much as $84,990.
The HVAC industry keeps growing. Getting an Illinois HVAC license or certification validates your knowledge as a professional technician. You'll earn more money as employers will pay more for those who have greater knowledge and experience in the industry. If you start your own business, the necessary licenses will give your customers peace of mind and may result in more sales.
EPA 608 Basic Certification is $24.95 for the initial test and $5.95 for each additional attempt. Some HVAC schools include the cost of an initial test in the tuition. Check with your school or organization administering the exam to get specific costs.
Most Illinois residents enroll in a trade school or a community college to get their start in the HVAC industry. Most HVAC technician programs are six to nine months. To become an HVAC engineer, you must attend a four-year institution and earn a bachelor's degree in engineering. To become qualified as an entry-level technician, these schools are considered among the best in Illinois:
ETI School of Skilled Trades, Willowbrook
Elgin Community College, Elgin
Oakton Community College, Des Plaines
College of Lake County, Grayslake
Waubonsee Community College, Sugar Grove
The top college in Illinois for HVAC engineers include Northwestern University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.
For technician schools, the costs range from $1,100 to $27,000. For four-year degrees, consult the website of individual universities. Financial aid is available through grants and scholarships. In some cases, students can apply for financial help through FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid).
Your school will provide study resources to pass the certification exams to qualify for an Illinois HVAC license. Certification licenses are issued by the organization issuing the certification, including the EPA, NATE and in some instances HVAC Excellence.
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