Alabama HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Alabama
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If you are looking for a career with job security, HVAC may be for you. We all rely on climate control and refrigeration systems in our homes and businesses. Those systems break down and wear out—lasting usually about 15 years. And with more emphasis placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant. Trained HVACR professionals are in high demand to keep up with this thriving industry.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 — adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. Alabama employs 6,430 HVAC professionals. The Alabama Department of Labor has projected that in the decade leading up to 2026, there will be a 13.5% increase in HVAC positions in the state.
And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 79% of firms in Alabama had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020.
The licensing requirements for HVAC workers and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality, but the need for proper training is universal.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Alabama
Is a license required to perform HVAC work in Alabama? Yes! You must even register to get started as an apprentice.
To legally perform heating, air conditioning and refrigeration work in the state of Alabama, you must be a licensed Air Conditioning Contractor or Refrigeration Contractor or both or a registered apprentice working under a licensed contractor.
The Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors issues the licenses.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Alabama
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Alabama?
There are four types of classifications for HVAC technicians in Alabama.
Duct Air Tightness Contractor
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Alabama
You must be at least 18 years of age.
You must provide your Social Security Number.
You must have either a valid driver’s license or a United States issued identification.
Register as an apprentice while getting certified vocational education; and/or
Get work experience under supervision of a licensed contractor.
Apply for Alabama Contractor license.
Provide documentation of two years (3,000 hours) work experience including tax W-2 forms or Alabama board-issued apprentice certificate or proof of college/vocational training program graduation.
Take and pass the licensing exam.
Pay all fees.
Pass criminal background check.
Secure $15,000 contractor’s performance bond.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Alabama
There are many benefits to getting your Alabama HVAC Contractor license:
Most important, it is required by law in Alabama to be licensed through the state to legally perform A/C and Refrigeration work.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed HVAC contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects.
Having a license protects your company and customers.
A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician in Alabama?
The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Alabama is $44,990, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The salary for an HVAC Technician in Alabama increases as you acquire more experience according to indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $19.01 per hour in Alabama and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $20.52 per hour in Alabama and $6,562 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $23.61 per hour in Alabama and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $67,206 per year in Alabama and $11,250 overtime per year.
Pay can vary widely, depending on the city where you work and other factors like education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC License in Alabama?
To register as a Heating & Air Conditioning Apprentice, it costs $25. To register as a Refrigeration Apprentice, it costs $25. To register as both a Heating & Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Apprentice, it costs $50.
The application fee for an HVAC Contractor license is $190. The application fee for a Refrigeration Contractor license is $190. To apply for both types you must pay a combined $380. It will cost you $190 per year to keep each license active. The board will not accept personal or business checks.
You can also expect to pay $150 per examination. If you apply to take both the HVAC and the Refrigeration exams, it will cost $300.
All payments must be made by MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Certified/Cashier’s Check or Money Order made payable to “State of Alabama.” There is a 4% convenience fee added to all card transactions.
How to Get an HVAC License in Alabama
The Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors has a page on its website that explains how to get licensed. Right at the top, the board warns that using a third party licensing organization to apply for your state issued license could delay the process because the board cannot discuss your application information with anyone but you. There is also an Application for Licensure Instruction Sheet that explains the process and everything you need to provide.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Before you can apply for a contractor’s license, you must gain the necessary years of experience. There are three ways to do that.
You can provide Apprentice Certificates issued by the board for the previous two years. When you begin your apprenticeship, you will need to register with the state by submitting this Apprenticeship Application (Form AA-1), proof that you are a U.S. citizen or are legally present in the US, that you are working under the supervision of a licensed contractor, and pay a fee of $25 per certificate registration. You can register for a Heating & Air Conditioning Apprentice Certificate, a Refrigeration Apprentice Certificate, or both for $50.
You can attend and graduate from an approved Heating and Air Conditioning and/or Commercial Refrigeration curriculum. The approved curricula are listed on the examination application. They include all State of Alabama two-year or community colleges and several other programs in Alabama and three other states. You will need to provide copies of your transcripts showing completion of all the appropriate hours of coursework and graduation from the program.
If you do not have an Apprentice Certificate or have not graduated from an approved curriculum, you must submit proof of at least 3,000 hours work experience (18 months) gained under the supervision of a HACR licensee. You will need to use the affidavit form included on page four of the packet. W-2 tax forms and an affidavit of the employer or officer of the employing company serve as proof of experience. Acceptance of proof of experience is at the discretion of the board.
APPLY TO TAKE EXAMINATION: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, you may apply to take the license exam. To be approved to sit for the examination you must submit to the licensing board:
The Examination Application (Forms EA-1-EA-4); and
Affidavits that are signed and notarized by the employer(s) swearing that the applicant has worked in the Heating and Air Conditioning and/or Commercial Refrigeration industry for at least two years within the past five years, and all corresponding W-2 Forms from the employer(s); and/or
Copies of apprentice certificates showing that the applicant has attended at least 3,000 hours of Heating and Air Conditioning and/ or Commercial Refrigeration educational training; or
Proof of graduation from an approved Heating and Air Conditioning and/or Commercial Refrigeration curriculum. Candidates with a certificate from any public State of Alabama two-year or community college are approved; and
Examination fee of $150 per exam. If you apply for both the HVAC and Refrigeration exams at once, you will pay $300.
Once the application has been processed by the board and approved, you will receive information about scheduling the exam.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The state of Alabama has contracted with Prov Testing Services to administer the exam. Once you qualify to test, you will receive notice from the board and be told how to register with Prov. Because you will pay the state, you will not pay Prov directly. The Candidate Information Bulletin provides all the information about the test.
APPLY FOR LICENSE:
To assure consideration of your license application at the next board meeting, the board office must receive all of these items no later than 4:30 p.m. 10 full working days before the meeting date:
Completed, signed and notarized application forms, AL-1, AL-2, and BF-1 demonstrating proof of a contractor's bond of $15,000. A bond is required for a license to be issued or renewed. It is filed for the benefit of consumers who may be damaged as a result of defective construction or other license violations, and for the benefit of employees who have not been paid wages that are due to them.
You may apply by reciprocity if you hold a current and valid HVAC license with: the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission for at least five years; Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors for at least three years; Mississippi Board of Contractors for at least one year; Louisiana or West Virginia, where there are no waiting periods. If you qualify, use forms VL-1, VL-2 along with the other forms.
To apply for a Duct Air Tightness Testing Contractor Registration, use form DA-1.
Fee of $190 by check, credit card or money order made payable to the State of Alabama.
All required supporting documentation. Applications that are not complete within 12 months of filing may be considered abandoned and discarded. The board office will attempt to notify you before discarding an abandoned application.
If your application is approved by the board, allow four to eight weeks to receive your license.
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Alabama?
It will take a minimum of two years to qualify to take the licensing exam in Alabama. However, you will be working, accumulating the necessary experience and earning money the whole time.
Alabama HVAC Training programs and schools
Because HVAC technology is becoming more and more complex, getting some kind of formal training can be very helpful. There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Alabama, and they are located all over the state. A certificate program can take a matter of months, or you can get a two-year degree at a technical or community college.
There are also many more options for online training.
Most HVAC technicians hold some kind of post-secondary degree or certificate. There are two main organizations that approve HVAC programs and schools nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).
HVAC Excellence has accredited the following programs in Alabama:
Calhoun State Community College, Tanner, AL
J.F. Drake State Community & Technical College, Huntsville, AL
Lawson State Community College, Bessemer, AL
Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL
PAHRA has accredited three programs in Alabama:
Alabama Power Company, Verbena, AL
Bevill State Community College, Sumiton, AL
Gadsden State Community College, Anniston, AL
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements for all of the different programs at each of the above schools.
Here are four great lists to the best HVAC schools in Alabama:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Alabama
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose but can range from $1,200 to $15,000 at a technical school or an associate’s degree at a community college.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED.
On-the-Job Experience: While on the job, you will need good customer service skills, be detail-oriented, have some mechanical capability, and be physically fit because the job can include some heavy lifting and hours of walking, standing and working in tight spaces.
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Alabama HVAC Licensing Exam Details
According to the Prov Testing Candidate Bulletin for Alabama, the Heating and Air Conditioning (HAC) test is made up of 110 questions, and you will be given five hours to complete it. The subject areas covered are:
Systems & Sizing
Safety and Environmental
Payroll and Employment Taxes
Also according to the Prov Testing Candidate Bulletin for Alabama, the Refrigeration test is made up of 90 questions, and you will be given four hours to complete it. The subject areas covered are:
Systems & Sizing
Payroll and Employment Taxes
Safety and Environmental
Both tests are open book, using the references materials listed in the Candidate Bulletin. Only those items listed may be used, and there are specific rules about how you can mark them using permanent tabs, highlighters and pen only— not pencil. Be sure to read all the information carefully and follow it closely as all reference materials will be checked by the Prov testing administrator prior to testing.
You must earn a 70% or higher on each test to pass.
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Alabama?
The Alabama Board of Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Contractors issues each of the licenses.
Does My Alabama HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Yes! You may apply by reciprocity if you hold a current and valid HVAC license with: the South Carolina Residential Builders Commission for at least five years; Tennessee Board for Licensing Contractors for at least three years; Mississippi Board of Contractors for at least one year; Louisiana or West Virginia, where there are no waiting periods. If you qualify, use forms VL-1, VL-2 along with the other forms.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require that technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere must be certified. EPA Section 608 HVAC Certification is required for any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air conditioning systems.
Most training programs can direct you to how and where to get that certification, and many even make it part of the curriculum, or your employer will require you to get it before handling refrigerant. You can also go to EPA.gov and key in 608 Certification in the search bar to find out which institutions in your state offer certification programs.
Take Certification Exam: You must acquire your EPA Certification from an approved organization. A list of these organizations can be found on the EPA’s website. There are four types of EPA Certifications for Refrigerant. They allow for different levels of certification for different scopes of work.
Type I – for servicing small appliances containing five pounds of refrigerant or less.
Type II – for servicing high-pressure units that contain five pounds or more of refrigerant (including most small commercial and residential systems).
Type III – for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances.
Universal – for servicing all systems and appliances covered under Types I, II, and III. Generally more useful than targeting any one specific certification.
For all certifications, you must pass the “Core Section” of the EPA certification exam. It covers the following topics:
Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol
Section 608 regulations
Substitute refrigerants and oils
The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim)
National HVAC Certifications
Other certifications can help you demonstrate your proficiency to potential employers and clients. North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) certification and other professional certifications are not required but can add to your marketability as a service provider and therefore increase your opportunity to make more money.
Other Requirements Unique to Alabama
To keep your state-issued license current, Alabama requires you to renew it before it expires every year by Dec. 31. The fee is $190. You must complete four hours of approved continuing education each year before renewal.
The Alabama board, in October of 2018, changed the date that your continuing education needs to be complete. The deadline for completing the minimum continuing education requirement is now Nov. 1 each year. Any proof of compliance submitted to the board after that date cannot be guaranteed to be entered into the system prior to the Dec. 31 renewal deadline. A contractor may take as many as eight hours in a single year and carry over four of those hours to the next renewal cycle. You can use this portal to search for continuing courses near you.