In order to work as a professional HVAC technician, certain licensing and certifications are required.
- EPA Section 608 Certification is required for all professionals working on systems containing refrigerants.
- Depending on which U.S. state you plan on working in, you may need special state licensing or certification.
- There are additional licensing tests for those who have experience in the field; passing specialized tests may make a candidate more desirable in the job market.
New HVAC technicians should figure out which particular credential type is needed for their career goals.
Three Types of Certification for HVAC Technicians
Why do HVAC techs need certification?
These days, most HVAC systems are so complex that technicians need comprehensive education to develop a true understanding of how they work. This includes training on common problems and the best methods to repair these systems.
Once they’ve completed an HVAC training program, HVAC techs prove their competency in working on HVAC equipment by taking certification and licensing exams.
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1. EPA Certifications
EPA Section 608 Certification is required for HVAC technicians who buy or work with any kind of refrigerants.
HVAC technicians must pass an exam specific to one of three specializations in order to become EPA certified:
- Small appliances
- High-pressure appliances
- Low-pressure appliances
They may also earn EPA certification in all types of equipment.
HVAC technicians who handle small appliances, such as window or room air conditioners, refrigerators, freezers and dehumidifiers, need Type I certification from the EPA. This covers recovery requirements, recovery techniques and safety.1
If new HVAC techs will service high-pressure air conditioning and/or heating units, they need to be certified with this designation. The test for Type II certification covers additional issues related to high- and very-high-pressure appliances, including leak detection, leak repair requirements and refrigeration.
These certifications are necessary for HVAC techs who work with low-pressure refrigerants, commonly found in chiller units.2 The Type III certification exam also asks for knowledge regarding:
- Leak detection
- Leak repair requirements
- Recovery techniques
- Recovery requirements
- Recharging techniques
This exam covers low, high and very high-pressure appliances, as well as small appliances. This certification includes Type I, II and III.
2. State Certification and Licensing
Since state regulations can change, be sure to verify requirements for your state if you need to obtain a credential in order to work with HVAC systems.3
According to Next Insurance4, this is the breakdown of states with and without licensing requirements.
States with HVAC licensing or certification requirements:
- Distract of Columbia
- Massachusetts (if working with refrigerants.)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota (for projects worth $4,000 or more.)
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- Tennessee (for projects costing $25,000 or more.)
- West Virginia
States without HVAC licensing requirements:
- Minnesota (insurance required.)
- Montana (no licensing requirements for HVAC techs without employees)
- New Hampshire
- New York
- South Dakota
- Wisconsin (An HVAC Qualifier Certification can be helpful for businesses.)
Keep in mind that requirements sometimes vary for technicians and contractors. In Arizona, for example, contractors need licenses, but technicians don’t.
3. Additional Opportunities for HVAC Certification and Licensing
There are various specialized tests for HVAC technicians to become certified with specific types of equipment. Some require a certain amount of work experience or HVAC training before you can take them.
A number of organizations offer these types of exams:
- North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
- HVAC Excellence
- The National Inspection Testing and Certification Corporation (NITC)
- The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES)
These certifications can be helpful in the HVAC job market, as they demonstrate to employers that a HVAC technician has specific competencies.
RSI Prepares You for HVAC Certification
RSI’s HVAC/R programs train students for a variety of skills in the industry that will help them prepare to test for EPA 608 certification and other HVAC licensing.