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How to get an HVAC license in North Carolina

HVAC professionals have seen a significant increase in average salary and demand over the last decade. However, there is still a shortage of qualified technicians to fill the open roles with companies throughout North Carolina. If you're currently thinking about making a switch to the industry or starting your own HVAC business, now is the perfect time to do so.

The good news is that even though you'll need to either participate in an apprenticeship or go to technical school, the opportunities are endless once you enter the industry.

This guide will help you identify the appropriate steps to have a successful career in the heating and cooling industry, from licensing to HVAC insurance.

What is an HVAC license?

In North Carolina, an HVAC license is a required certification an HVAC technician must achieve to perform maintenance and repairs on air conditioning units, heating systems, and commercial refrigeration.

North Carolina HVAC license requirements: Overview

To work in the HVAC industry, you must first obtain the appropriate license. Unlike other states, North Carolina has a few different licensing requirements that you'll need to pass before operating on specific systems. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at the HVAC license requirements for North Carolina.

Does North Carolina require an HVAC license?

For HVAC professionals working in North Carolina, you can obtain 2 different types of licenses—the refrigeration contractor license and the heating and cooling contractor license. Depending on what type of systems you want to work on, you may only need to obtain one of the licenses.

Here's a closer look at what each type of license allows you to do.

Refrigeration contractor license

Professionals in the HVAC field looking to work with refrigeration machinery and equipment must obtain a license from the North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors.

Currently, there are 4 different class types you can achieve in refrigeration. These classes include:

  • Class I: Commercial refrigeration contracting
  • Class II: Industrial refrigeration contracting
  • Class III: Refrigeration service contracting
  • Class IV: Transport refrigeration contracting

Heating and cooling contractor license

Like refrigeration, HVAC work involving heating and cooling systems requires its unique license and certification. HVAC professionals can choose between 3 different groups when applying for a license. These groups include:

  • Heating group 1: Water-based comfort heating system
  • Heating group 2: Forced-air heating/cooling systems with a cooling capacity of more than 15 tons
  • Heating group 3: Forced-air heating/cooling systems with a cooling capacity of 15 tons or less

It's important to note that you'll need a certain class license depending on the location you want to work in. For instance, any HVAC professionals working in residential, commercial, or industrial buildings require a class I contractor license. Likewise, a class II license is required for single-family residences.

What is the HVAC license application fee for North Carolina?

When applying for your HVAC license, you’ll be required to pay an application fee of $100 to either the North Carolina State Board of Refrigeration Contractors or the North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors.

What are the different types of HVAC certification in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, there are 2 different types of HVAC certifications — the refrigeration contractor license and the heating and cooling contractor license. Each license provides excellent opportunities for professionals in the industry, and each comes with its own set of standards.

Before deciding on which license to pursue, it's essential to consider what type of work you want to do once you obtain your certification. For instance, if your passion is to work on refrigeration equipment and machinery, you should pursue a refrigeration contractor license.

Where can I find HVAC training in North Carolina?

Technical training opportunities are available in multiple ways for aspiring HVAC technicians. For instance, several community colleges and trade associations provide classes that prepare future HVAC professionals for their technician licenses. These institutions also typically offer continuing education courses for those who have already completed the licensing exam.

How to apply for an HVAC license in North Carolina

Once you've done your research and settled on an HVAC area you would like to work in, it's time to apply for your official license. To obtain the certification, you'll need to complete specific educational requirements and the required hours of experience.

The following section will walk you through how the licensing process works.

How do I get my HVAC license in North Carolina?

While obtaining your HVAC license may seem daunting, it's a fairly straightforward process. To help you obtain your certification, we have outlined the most important steps you need to follow to obtain your license below.

  1. Obtain a diploma or associate degree from a technical school or HVAC program
  2. Participate in an apprenticeship program to learn the industry while under the supervision of an experienced HVAC professional
  3. Once you have the necessary work experience and education requirements, you can then apply for the license of your choice
  4. Complete and submit your application form along with licensing fees
  5. After your application is approved, you'll have up to 30 days to take the state law exam—should you fail the exam, the state allows you to take an exam review course in Raleigh
  6. Finally, once you've passed the exam, you can submit your final form and receive your license

What is the HVAC license renewal process in North Carolina?

Depending on which license you currently have, the renewal process differs.

There is an $80 fee for refrigeration contractor license renewals, and the renewal must be submitted by October 31st of each year.

For heating and cooling contractors, the fee to renew a license is $150 and has to be submitted by December 31st of each year.

HVAC contractor license vs. HVAC business license in North Carolina

If you're currently in the HVAC industry, you may be wondering what the difference is between an HVAC contractor license and an HVAC business license. Truthfully, both play a significant role in running a business successfully and legally.

For example, the HVAC contractor license allows you to legally offer services associated with maintaining, fixing, and replacing different heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems. In contrast, an HVAC business license permits you to operate your company in the state of North Carolina.

Without either of these licenses, you could face penalties, including fines or even the suspension of business operations.

Does North Carolina require a contractor license?

North Carolina does require any individual performing work on heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to either maintain a contractor’s license or work for someone who has a license of their own.

Protecting your HVAC company with small business insurance

After you've completed all the necessary steps to obtain your license, it's time to consider where you want your career to go. If you're thinking about starting an HVAC business, you'll need to ensure that you think through marketing and service offerings.

Another crucial area to cover when planning your company is small business insurance.

Depending on whether you plan to hire employees such as general contractors or laborers, you may need to purchase a workers' compensation plan and other vital coverages such as general liability, business interruption insurance, and property insurance.

To assist in streamlining your insurance needs, Huckleberry provides small business owners with the option to purchase a BOP, or Business Owner's Policy, which offers multiple coverages in a single policy.

For more information on how Huckleberry can keep your HVAC company protected, click here and receive an insurance estimate within minutes. Get your business covered, from Raleigh to Greensboro to Asheville!

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