Requirements for HVAC Certification and Licensing

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Working in the HVAC industry can be very rewarding. It takes a good deal of dedication and skill to thrive in the field, however. Comprehensive HVAC training from an institution like RSI, as well as continued efforts toward excellence in the form of further training and certification are vital to advancement in this field. Remember these requirements for HVAC certification and licensing.

General HVAC Certification Guidelines

The HVAC/R industry is different in various parts of the country. While some states require high-level technicians to obtain a license, RSI’s home state of Arizona does not, which is important for students to know should they want to pursue this level of work in-state. However, HVAC contractors have HVAC certification standards to follow.

HVAC contractors must be licensed by the state in residential, commercial or residential/commercial practices. Each classification requires a passing score on a two-part exam relevant to the focus area. Residential HVAC contractors sit the C-39 exam, commercial contractors sit the K-39 and combination residential/commercial contractors undergo the L-39 exam.

Each exam has set guidelines and established fees. All of them require test-takers to display their knowledge of business management. The second portion of the “-39” series exam differs depending on focus area, as examinees must prove their knowledge of residential-, commercial- or residential/commercial-related practices. In all cases, the test-taker must have at least 4 years of previous relevant experience and pay a state-required bond based on what they expect to earn in annual revenue. License fees are the primary point of difference, as residential, commercial and residential/commercial HVAC exams and corresponding licenses vary in price.

  • C-39 license requires a fee of $320.00
  • K-39 license requires a fee of $645.00
  • L-39 license requires a fee of $1,125.00

When all is said and done, successful passing of an exam results in licensure for a period of 2 years.

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Experience for the licensure process may be gained through training beyond RSI, if an individual so desires. A primary means to develop skills is through apprenticeships, which last 3 – 5 years. Professionals expand their knowledge through a combination of hands-on job shadowing and technical learning during their apprenticeships, sponsored by organizations like Air Conditioning Contractors of America.

Read more about Types of HVAC Certification.

Refrigeration Certification Guidelines

Those wishing to further specialize their HVAC focus by pursuing careers in refrigeration services are required to successfully complete an exam. The Environmental Protection Agency handles this specialty and provides opportunities to take an HVAC certification exam for handling refrigerants. HVAC-R professionals who buy or handle refrigerants must all be certified via 1 of 3 written exams specific to their work: Type I for servicing small appliances, Type II for use of high-pressure refrigerants or Type III for low-pressure refrigerants. Upon general refrigeration certification and 1 – 2 years of experience, specialized exams may be taken, like the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society’s R-410A Certification exam dealing with compressed-refrigerant cooling systems.

Not all certifications are required of HVAC professionals, like those for HVAC technicians. It is, however, important to do your best throughout your education at RSI and then in contractor-level training, as these will pave the way for your future in the field. Some day you may even consider undergoing technician’s training, which will allow you to work in higher-level positions in more states throughout the country. Remember to look at the bigger picture and start planning for your future today!


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