Arkansas HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Arkansas
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HVAC/R professionals in Arkansas can make a good living and are almost guaranteed a long career in the business because these skilled tradespeople are in high demand and in short supply. There are over 340,000 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers in the United States, according to the Board of Labor and Statistics, and only 2,810 work in Arkansas. The industry is growing there faster than people are joining the field.
Climate control and refrigeration systems in our homes and businesses wear out and break down and now with more of an emphasis being 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. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 — adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks.
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. had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. HVACR mechanics and Installers are even listed on the 2019 Arkansas Labor Market and Economic Report as one of the State In-Demand Occupations.
The licensing requirements for HVAC workers and contractors vary from state to state and in some cases from locality to locality.
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Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Arkansas
Is a license required to perform HVAC work in Arkansas? Yes.
To be an HVAC Contractor in Arkansas, you must be licensed. Entry-level HVAC technicians do not need a license but must register with the state and work under the supervision of a licensed contractor.
Arkansas makes it pretty easy from a licensing standpoint to get started in the HVAC business. There are no apprenticeship, educational, or legal requirements to begin working in the field, so getting started is only dependent on meeting the expectations of prospective employers and federal EPA certification requirements.
However, to become an HVAC/R contractor in Arkansas, you must accrue at least two years of experience and on-the-job training as an HVAC/R technician or graduate from a Board-approved HVAC/R training program, which either includes at least 6 months hands-on work or get that 6 months in the field after graduation. Securing an Arkansas HVAC license allows contractors to legally employ technicians, advertise and bid on HVAC projects.
The Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing oversees licensing of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Contractors for the state. That task was moved from the Arkansas Department of Health. The Department of Labor provides testing for the HVAC/R contractors and the issuance of various types of HVACR licenses, and publishes codes, rules and regulation of licensing.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Arkansas
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Arkansas?
There are six types of licenses for HVAC/R contractors in Arkansas. All but Class A have specific limitations, and they all expire one year from the date they were issued and must be renewed annually.
Class A: Entitles the holder to work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems without limitation to BTUH (British Thermal Units per hour) or horsepower capabilities.
Class B: Entitles the licensee to perform work on air conditioning systems of no more than 15 tons cooling capacity, heating systems of 1 million BTUs/hour or less, and refrigeration systems of 15 horsepower or less.
Class C: Entitles the licensee, who is in the business of servicing and repairing heating, ventilation, air conditioning or refrigeration equipment for the public to service, repair or replace components of HVACR equipment and to perform HVACR work on air conditioning systems of no more than 15 tons and heating systems of 1 million BTUs/hour or less. A Class C license holder is not permitted to install any original HVACR equipment or replace any existing HVACR equipment.
Class D: Entitles the licensee to perform sheet metal work as it relates to ductwork for HVACR systems without regard to or limitation of horsepower of the system to which the duct connects. The licensee in this category is prohibited from the sale, installation, and service of HVACR equipment and systems.
Class E: Entitles the licensee to perform refrigeration work without regard to or limitation of horsepower. The licensee in this category is prohibited from the sale, installation, and service of heating and air conditioning equipment used for the treatment of air for human comfort requirements.
Class L: Entitles the license holder to a “Lifetime” license to perform HVACR service and maintenance work on air conditioning systems of no more than 15 tons or 1 million BTUH and refrigeration systems of 15 horsepower or less. A Lifetime license holder shall not install any original equipment or replace any existing HVACR equipment. Applicants for a Class “L” Lifetime license must be at least 65 years of age.
As a technician, you are expected to register with the Department and work under a licensed contractor. Your employer will typically ensure you hold a current HVACR registration.
Steps to Get an HVACR Contractor License in Arkansas
You must be at least 18 years of age.
You must have two years of work experience as an HVAC professional. The board may substitute HVAC-related educational training for experience, provided that it is a Board-approved program and educational transcripts are provided prior to Board consideration; or
You must be currently licensed in another state with licensing laws substantially similar to those of the State of Arkansas.
You must apply to the department on the forms issued by the Board.
You must pass a Board-approved examination if you do not hold a license from another state.
You must pay the appropriate license fee.
An individual is not eligible to receive or hold a license issued by the Board if that individual has pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to or been found guilty of serious criminal offenses.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Arkansas
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Arkansas HVAC Contractor license:
Since HVAC technicians are not required to be licensed, having one gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It will make you a more attractive candidate to prospective employers.
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.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Median Salary for an HVAC Technician in Arkansas?
The salary for an HVAC Technician in Arkansas increases as you acquire more experience, according to indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $18.05 per hour in Arkansas and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $19.75 per hour in Arkansas and $6,562 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $25.54 per hour in Arkansas and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $63,472 per year in Arkansas and $11,250 overtime per year.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC License in Arkansas?
There are different fees associated with each license class in Arkansas.
Class A Contractor Fee: $200 per year
Class B Contractor Fee: $150 per year
Class C Contractor Fee: $100 per year
Class D Contractor Fee: $150 per year
Class E Contractor Fee: $150 per year
Class L Contractor Fee: No charge
Registrant Fee: $25 per year
Exam costs depend on the testing method selected. According to the Prov Testing site, computer-based tests cost $80 and paper/pencil tests cost $56.
How to Get an HVAC License in Arkansas
To sit for an Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing HVAC/R contractor exam, you must be preapproved by the Board. To apply for an exam, read the HVAC/R Contractor License Rules and Regulations and mail an original notarized HVAC/R Contractor Application to the Board’s office.
Arkansas Department Of Labor and Licensing HVAC Division 900 West Capitol Ave., Suite 400 Little Rock, AR 72201
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:
Work as a registered HVAC technician under the supervision of a licensed HVAC Contractor for at least two years.
Graduate from a board-approved training program. Typically, those programs include at least 6 months on-the-job experience or you may be required to complete that 6 months hands-on training after graduating.
Be currently licensed in another state with licensing laws substantially similar to those of the State of Arkansas.
APPLY TO TAKE EXAMINATION: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, you may apply to take the license exam. In order to be approved to sit for the examination, you must submit to the licensing board: a notarized application that includes your Social Security Number, a list of your minimum two years’ work experience, and pay the appropriate licensing fee.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The state of Arkansas has contracted with Prov Testing Services to administer the exam. Once you have been approved for testing, the Board will notify you that you are eligible to contact Prov to schedule your examination. You will be eligible to take the exam for one (1) year. The Candidate Information Bulletin provides all the information about the test. Prov’s scoring system will grade your exam immediately upon completion of your test and will automatically forward the results to the state board. The Board will mail you your score and with a passing grade of 70%, you will receive your license.
STATE CONTRACTOR LICENSE: If you choose to work as an independent HVACR Contractor after becoming licensed, you may also have to apply for a state contractor’s license through the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. This only comes into play if you take on projects valued at more than $50,000. If so, you must complete an application for a state contractor’s license and provide the Board with proof of:
Workers’ compensation coverage (if you employ anyone else)
A surety bond or cash bond of at least $10,000
Your Class A or B HVACR license (or at least one employee with a Class A or B HVACR license)
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Arkansas?
It will take a minimum of two years to qualify to take the licensing exam in Arkansas. However, you will be working on accumulating the necessary experience and earning money the whole time.
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Arkansas 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 Arkansas 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. You may also choose to gain the necessary experience through a formal apprenticeship. Arkansas Apprenticeship manages an online directory of current apprenticeship for the trades.
Most HVAC technicians hold some kind of post-secondary degree or certificate. There are currently 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 Arkansas:
Arkansas State University – Beebe in Searcy, AR
Arkansas Tech University – Ozark Campus in Ozark, AR
There are currently no PAHRA-accredited programs in Arkansas.
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements for all of the different programs at each of the above schools.
Here are three great lists of the best HVAC schools in Arkansas:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Arkansas
Tuition: The Cost of Tuition depends on the program you choose. Arkansas State University – Beebe offers a 34 credit technical certificate and charges $100 per credit for in-state students. Arkansas Tech University offers a 36 credit technical certificate or a 60-credit-hour Associate of Applied Science degree in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at a cost of $129 per credit hour for in-state students.
The cost for an online training program can be significantly less and apprentice positions allow you to earn money while you learn rather than paying for training.
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 to have 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.
Arkansas HVAC Licensing Exam Details
According to the Prov Testing Candidate Bulletin for Arkansas, the number of questions and time allowed for each Arkansas Contractor license exam varies.
Class A HVACR exam: 100 questions, 4 hours
Class B HVACR exam: 50 questions, 3 hours
Class C HVACR exam: 40 questions, 2 hours
Class D HVACR exam: 60 questions, 3 hours
Class E HVACR exam: 60 questions, 3 hours
Some of the subjects on the exams are General Knowledge, Systems & Sizing, Piping, and Equipment. The candidate bulletin breaks it down for each license class. You must earn a 70% or higher on each test to pass.
All of the exams are open book, using the reference 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.
The cost of the exam is determined by the testing method selected. Computer-based tests cost $80 and paper/pencil tests cost $56.
There are testing centers located in:
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Department of Labor & Licensing issues each of the licenses and registrations.
Does My Arkansas HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Arkansas does not have any reciprocity agreements with any other states at this time. Each application from an out-of-state contractor is handled on an individual basis.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Arkansas, federal-level 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.
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 Arkansas
To keep your state-issued license current, Arkansas requires you to renew it every year. Licenses expire one year from the date issued. The renewal fee is the same as the initial license fee.
There is no continuing education requirement for licensed HVAC Contractors in Arkansas at this time.
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