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How to get an HVAC license in Virginia

The saying goes, “Virginia is for lovers,” but it can also be for a heating and cooling system. Winters and summers have proven to be unpredictable lately, with heat and humidity bearing down on those summer nights and winters bringing those cold spells. The need for reliable warm air heating and air conditioning systems has never been greater. So, Virginia is a great place to set up a business in the HVAC industry (boilers, refrigeration, and heating/cooling systems).

If you’re looking to set up a heating and cooling business in the Commonwealth of Virginia, your first step is to obtain an HVAC license. The following guide will tell you all you need to know to secure an HVAC license so you can deliver climate control systems to Virginians in the safest, most efficient way possible.

Virginia HVAC license requirements and laws

There are 3 different levels of HVAC Licenses in Virginia, each of which has its process:

Journeyman License

This is the first level of licensure. With this, you can work unsupervised on projects with a value lower than $1,000.00. Obtaining the journeyman HVAC license requires you a combination of work experience and classroom learning and passing the state-required test. There are a few different ways to meet the pre-approval criteria for this exam:

  • A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year university in a related field and one year of practical experience working in the field as an HVAC technician
  • An Associate’s degree or a certificate from a 2-year HVAC program at a community college or trade school and 2 years of real work experience
  • 4 years of work experience and 240 hours of formal HVAC training
  • Substituting one year of practical experience for every 80 hours of vocational training

Master License

With a Master HVAC license, you can make plans and plot out details for installation and supervise installation, repair, and maintenance of HVAC systems in compliance with the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code on projects with a value of less than $1,000.00. There are 2 ways to meet the requirements to take this license exam:

  • Documentation of having spent at least one year as a licensed journeyman
  • 10 years of verified practical trade experience

Contractor License

The highest level of HVAC licensing in Virginia is the Contractor License. Any project that is priced at $1,000 or more will require a contractor license. The best type of Contractor License that you should apply for will depend on the value or pricing of your business's projects. There are 3 Contractor License classes in Virginia, each requiring an 8-hour pre-education course administered by an approved provider.

  • Class A license: This is an unlimited license with no restrictions on the size and scope of the jobs. Qualifications are 5 years of professional experience and at least $45,000 of capital in your business.
  • Class B license: With a Class B contractor license, you can take on individual projects of $120,000 and less than $750,000 in projects throughout the year. This requires at least 3 years of experience and at least $15,000 of business capital.
  • Class C license: A Class C contractor license limits you to projects of less than $10,000 and only $150,000 total in projects through the year. Two years of experience is required. There are no business capital requirements.

How to apply for an HVAC license in Virginia

The road for any tradesman obtaining an HVAC license in Virginia starts in either the positions of an entry-level worker, apprentice, or student who is working towards a journeyman’s license. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Additionally, you will need a combination of continuing education and practical experience in training programs based on the license you are seeking (described above).

The license application process is governed by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, and you can contact them with any questions along the way.

Once you have met the education requirements, you can take the exam for the license you are pursuing. The State of Virginia contracts PSI Testing Services to administer these exams. You will need to apply to the board of contractors to be permitted to take this exam. You can apply either via an interactive form on the DPOR website or a static form mailed with a paper check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of Virginia.

The board will determine your eligibility to test. Certain individuals who apply via reciprocity from other states or who have completed an approved apprenticeship may gain an exemption from the exam. You can learn about the exam via the PSI Individual License and Certification Candidate Information Bulletin. Upon completing the exam, your results will be displayed, the Board will receive notification, and you will receive your journeyman license in the mail.

A Master License exam follows a similar process, but you will select the Master Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning option at the testing center.

To keep your license, the state of Virginia requires a reinstatement every 2 years. Licenses expire 2 years from the end of the month that they are issued. Renewal fees are $90, and 3 hours of approved continuing education are required to maintain eligibility. Should you break your license terms, you may be eligible for revocation.

HVAC contractor license vs. HVAC business license in Virginia

As you embark on your journey towards the HVAC Contractor license, it’s important to consider the difference between an HVAC Contractor License and an HVAC business license by Virginia.

An HVAC Contractor License allows you to legally perform the day-to-day of heating and cooling professional servicing HVAC systems. In contrast, a business license is one provided by the state of Virginia that grants you the ability to work in a specific area of the state or a specific industry.

Congratulations! You are well on your way to being a licensed HVAC professional in Virginia. But as you operate and grow your business, you will want to consider insurance. You’ll need liquor liability insurance as part of your restaurant and bar insurance—and we can help. It takes just 5 minutes to get an online quote with Huckleberry.

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