In some parts of the country, contractors can legally install and perform work on HVAC systems without a license or certification. However, it is not recommended for homeowners to hire someone without the proper state-sanctioned certifications and training. That's because even the smallest HVAC systems use potentially dangerous high voltage to power units.
Improper installation or repair work can easily cause a fire hazard, damage the electrical systems of a building, and lead to other safety issues. An HVAC technician must be able to do the job reliably and consistently provide workmanship that meets widely agreed-upon safety and functionality standards.
In the state of Texas, people ask a lot of their HVAC systems, especially during the brutal heat of the summer months. To work safely and efficiently and to turn out enough conditioned air to do the job, HVAC systems must be built, installed, and maintained with the highest standards and best practices.
That being the case, the job of an HVAC technician is a highly sought-after vocation with competitive rates of pay. Here, we’ll answer common questions on the topic of getting an HVAC license in Texas.
Do You Need an HVAC License in Texas?
Yes. Before an HVAC contractor is permitted to bid on projects, install units, and work on HVAC systems in Texas, a state license from the Texas Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors Advisory Board must be obtained. To qualify, a would-be contractor must have no less than four years of working HVAC experience obtained within the last six years.
These four years of experience must be completed under the supervision of a licensed HVAC technician. After the application is filed, applicants are required to pass the Texas HVAC exam and provide proof of insurance.
What Are the Benefits of Having an HVAC License?
Most Texans lived without air conditioning and heating until the 1970s. The technology only arrived about 90 years ago in the early 1930s. Since then, demand for the technology has only grown, and there is no reason to believe it won’t continue to grow rapidly. That means when you are trained, qualified, certified, and licensed to do HVAC work, you have your foot in the door of a very promising industry with lots of room for growth. We're talking terrific job security.
However, gaining valuable leverage in a growing industry is not the only benefit of getting your HVAC certification and contracting license. Becoming a state-certified HVAC professional also gets you on the inside track of the latest changes to regulations, policy, best practices, and technology. When you attend your ongoing HVAC continued learning courses, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with other pros in the field.
As any good businesspeople know, networking is one of the best and most important ways to stay on top of any market. Many professionals can and do practice HVAC service and repair without a license as it is legal to do so in many places. However, they are likely to miss out on news and opportunities that the licensed pros will not miss.
Getting an HVAC License in Texas
To get your HVAC license in Texas, you must become a certified HVAC technician. You’ll be glad to know that getting HVAC certification in Texas is affordable. There is only a one-time fee of $115 for the licensing examination. If you fail the exam, you will be permitted to take it again at the same price.
As a certified HVAC tech, you now have what you need to work with a licensed HVAC contractor. This means you can obtain the four years of supervised experience necessary to get your contractor’s license and start your own company.
Here's the Texas HVAC licensing process:
Obtain an HVAC tech certification for $115.
Go to work for a licensed HVAC contractor for four years.
Complete the HVAC contractor license application and pass the examination.
You are free to take the HVAC contractor’s exam with no educational prerequisites. While individuals with criminal backgrounds are not prohibited from taking the exam, other regulations may apply to those who have been convicted of a crime.
You must be at least 18 years of age to take the exam. The exam is provided by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). You have the option of applying online. The TDLR will contact you and provide the time and location of your exam.
To pass, you will need to earn a score of 70% or better. Those who do not pass may reschedule and take another exam within 24 hours. The license is good for only one year. After that time has passed, you will need to take an eight-hour course in continued training.
The eight-hour continued education session is to help ensure that contractors are kept up to date on new regulations, safety standards, changes to prevailing technology, and other important issues. These courses are an important way contractors can stay abreast of changes.
Texas HVAC License Reciprocity
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation recognizes that an HVAC professional may work in another state or move from one state to another and still have a reasonable expectation to apply their trade. In response, the TDLR has established reciprocal licensing agreements with the states of Georgia and South Carolina.
The one major restriction is that a professional must have a license for at least a year before taking advantage of the reciprocity feature of the license.
HVAC contractors licensed in Georgia or South Carolina must provide a letter of good standing from their state licensing body and pass their licensing exam. Once these steps are complete, the applicant must submit the state Air Conditioning Refrigeration Contractor License Application with the $115 fee, which is not refundable.
Applicants must include proof of insurance and a copy of their current license. The endorsements and license class the applicant chooses will determine the type of work he or she will be able to perform.
The Different Types of Texas HVAC Licenses
There are many different types of HVAC systems, connected systems, and ways to install, repair, and service them. Fittingly, there are also different types of HVAC licenses and certifications. If you want to adhere to all of the relevant Texas HVAC rules and regulations, you may wish to obtain a specific type of license for specific types of work.
This is one of the many good reasons a contractor should employ a team of HVAC professionals. You can have each member of your team maintain licensure in one or more of the following HVAC license types. This way, you can be sure that no job will slip through your fingers.
When you choose a specific class of HVAC license, it is wise to research the pros and cons of the license type you wish to obtain. Search the term “Texas HVAC license search” and read up on the different types of licenses.
These are the license types that are available in the state of Texas:
Class A HVAC Licenses
This type of license allows the holder to work on HVAC systems of any size. This is the license type of choice for contractors who want to work with industrial-grade units or commercial-sized systems.
Class B HVAC Licenses
The class B license offers provisions similar to that of the class A, but it prevents the holder from working on HVAC systems 25 tons in weight or larger as well as systems that produce more than 1.5 million Btus. Class B HVAC license holders may earn somewhat less than those with a class A license, but they will be almost completely unfettered when it comes to serving the residential market, and that is more than enough business for most HVAC contractors.
EPA & NATE Licenses
EPA licensure is a type of licensing available only in certain states, including Texas. An EPA license allows you to work on systems and units that contain certain types of refrigerants considered an environmental hazard if spilled or disposed of improperly.
The NATE certification is a product of the North American Technician Excellence organization. It serves as proof that the holder has knowledge and experience as a professional HVAC tech. While this certification is not required by Texas laws or regulations to work in the HVAC field, those who do obtain this certification generally earn between $10,000 and $20,000 more per year.
Why Getting an HVAC License in Texas Is a Good Idea
It could be the case that pairing a NATE certification with a class A license would position a contractor to work with the largest HVAC customers, win the biggest and most generous contracts, and grow their business exponentially.
Thus, getting an HVAC license is essential in the Lone Star State. The same goes for HVAC insurance, which can protect your business from service and professional liability claims. To learn more about our insurance offerings and to get a quote, contact us today.