Want to begin a career in the HVAC industry? Currently, the industry is experiencing tremendous growth. You can work for a major corporation, or you can start your own business. No matter what you decide, read this guide to learn the licensing requirements to earn your Virginia HVAC license.
Yes, you need a Virginia HVAC license to work as an HVAC technician in the state.
There are three basic types of HVAC licenses: a journeyman license, a master license, and a contractor license. A journeyman license is the most basic type of license that allows you to begin working as an HVAC technician, but you can't have your own company. If you've held a journeyman HVAC license for more than a year, you can obtain a master license. You can supervise repair and installation services.
The contractor license is unique because you can get a Class A, Class B, and Class C contractor license. The contractor license lets you oversee entire HVAC projects, including the repair, maintenance, or installation of an HVAC unit.
If you obtain a Class C license, your work must be valued at no more than $10,000 for a single project or $150,000 for all projects in a year. If you obtain a Class B license, your restrictions will be set to $120,000 for a single project and $750,000 for all projects in a year. When you qualify for a Class A license, there is no monetary cap.
The average salary for someone with a journeyman license is $48,000, while the salary for a master HVAC technician is about $93,000. As for technicians with a contractor's license, the salary depends on the class of license you possess. If you have a Class A license, you can make millions of dollars each year because you own a contracting company.
Employment rates for mechanics and installers of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration units is set to grow by 15% from 2016-2026. There’s also an increasing emphasis on complex climate-control systems. If you're familiar with computers and electronics, you'll have the best job prospects.
Another benefit of a career in HVAC is you can become a technician without an expensive bachelor's degree. HVAC technicians also have substantial room for advancement during their careers. If you begin in an entry-level position, you can eventually advance into a managerial role.
The requirements for obtaining a Virginia HVAC license differ depending on the type of license. A contractor's license is required to work on an HVAC project valued more than $1,000. While most prospective technicians tend to go to college, you also can receive a journeyman license by having 10 years of experience in the field or by having six years of trade experience and 80 hours of vocational training.
The top schools in Virginia for HVAC training include Northern Virginia Community College, Virginia Western Community College, Lincoln Tech, and Centura College. For instance, North Virginia Community College offers an associate's degree program in HVAC. Degrees in similar fields like electrical/electronics and building maintenance and repair also can provide you with the educational requirements.
Modern HVAC systems are exceedingly complex, which is why a degree that focuses on a technical skill is essential. Whether you go to a community college or trade school, both of these options will prepare you for the certification test. While some schools offer online classes, most of these programs are hybrid courses, online and in-person.
To receive a journeyman license, you could obtain a bachelor's degree in a related field like mechanical engineering with one year of practical experience. You also can earn an associate's degree and two years of practical experience. The tuition depends on the school and type of program you select. For instance, a one-year certificate might cost as little as $2,000. On the other hand, four years of schooling for a bachelor's degree can cost upwards of $20,000 or more.
You will need at least one year of experience to receive a journeyman license. If you don't want to attend school, 10 years of experience in the trade is enough to qualify for this license.
For a master license, one year of experience with a journeyman license is enough to qualify. However, many technicians continue to gain experience before taking the master license exams. After two years of holding a master license, you can become a contractor.
The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation administers the licenses.
For a journeyman or master license, you are required to pass two exams, including a trade exam and a regulatory exam. Fees are $100 for a journeyman license and $125 for a master license. For the exam, you must complete 85 questions in 210 minutes or less. The topics range from warm air heating and ventilation to refrigerants and fire safety. If you pass these exams, no additional testing will be necessary to receive a Class C license.
For a Class B license, you must take two exams that focus on board rules and regulations as well as state labor laws and fiscal responsibility. Both of these exams are necessary for a Class A license as well. You also are required to take an advanced exam with 24 questions that center around business organization and contract management. If you attend a trade school or enroll into a college program for HVAC, you will be prepared for these exams in the course of your education. You can find a free practice test here.
Licenses must be renewed every two years for a $90 fee. If you don't renew within 30 days of the original license expiration, a reinstatement fee of $140 is required.
To obtain a journeyman license, it will take about four years. To obtain a master license, it will take about five years. Time varies for the contractor licenses.
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