HVAC License Florida: How to Become an HVAC Professional in Florida
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There’s not a state in the country where HVAC systems are more important to consumers than Florida. With the heat and humidity, Floridians depend on their residential and commercial units every day. That’s why HVAC professionals are in high demand in the Sunshine State, making it a career with great job security. If you’re considering taking this career path, you’ll need to understand the Florida HVAC license regulations and figure out how to navigate the process.
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Licensing Requirements for HVAC in Florida
Is a license required for HVAC Contractors in Florida? Yes.
To legally perform heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work in the state of Florida, you must be a licensed air conditioning contractor or a technician apprentice working under a licensed contractor.
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations, a division of Florida’s Construction Industry Licensing Board, issues the licenses.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Florida
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Florida?
There are four types of HVAC contractor licenses currently available in Florida.
Class A State Certified Contractor
Class B State Certified Contractor
Class A State Registered Contractor
Class B State Registered Contractor
A Class A License allows you to work on any size unit. A Class B License allows you to only work on units of 25 tons of cooling or less and 500,000 BTU of heating.
A State Certified License allows you to work anywhere in the state of Florida. You must pass the State of Florida’s licensing examination to earn a Certified License.
A State Registered License only allows you to work in the locality where you passed that locality’s competency exam. Each county will have its own licensure requirements.
Class C State Certified and Registered licenses are no longer offered but are still recognized by the state for those contractors who held them prior to October 1, 1988.
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Florida
Both certified and registered contractor licenses require you to:
Be 18 years of age.
Earn a high school diploma or GED.
Complete a training program—either on-the-job training working under the supervision of a licensed contractor or classroom training at a vocational school or college.
Get verified experience in the HVAC Industry.
Pass a trade knowledge exam and a business and finance knowledge exam.
Acquire general liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 with $25,000 property damage coverage.
Demonstrate financial responsibility based on your submitted FICO credit report with a score of 660 or higher.
Complete a Criminal Background check.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Work experience can be any combination of the following:
Hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field and one year/2,000 hours of experience; OR
Have four years of experience gained through an apprenticeship program, with at least one of those years as a foreman; OR
Have one year of experience as a foreman and at least three years of college credits; OR
Have one year of experience as a worker, one year as a foreman, and two years of college credits; OR
Have two years of experience as a worker, one year as a foreman, and one year of college credits
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: After getting the education and training you need, you must pass the exam or exams. You need to earn at least 70% to pass. All examinations are open book and consist of multiple-choice questions. Each paper and pencil examination session is 4 hours and 45 minutes long. Some parts are administered in two sessions.
Effective July 1, 2020, exam candidates who have received a bachelor's degree in building construction from an accredited four-year college, or a related degree as approved by board rule, and has a GPA of 3.0 or higher are exempt from having to take the trade knowledge portion of the exam. You will only be required to register for the Business and Finance exam.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: After you have successfully passed the exam, you may apply for your Florida contractors license.
PROVIDE PROOF OF:
INSURANCE: You will need to provide proof of general liability insurance in the amount of $100,000 with $25,000 property damage coverage.
SOLID FINANCES: You will need to submit your FICO credit score of 660 or better. According to the state website, “If an applicant does not have a 660 credit score at the time of application, the applicant may still establish financial responsibility by obtaining a licensing bond or letter of credit. The amount of the bond or letter of credit depends on the type of license sought: $20,000 for Division I contractors or $10,000 for Division II contractors. These amounts may be reduced to $10,000 for Division I contractors and $5,000 for Division II contractors by completing a board-approved financial responsibility course.”
CRIMINAL HISTORY CHECK: You must have a background check as part of the application process and it will require you to submit your fingerprints.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License In Florida
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your HVAC license:
First and most important, it is required by law in Florida 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 ACR 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.
Gives you a competitive advantage in the job market
Increases your earning potential. The median income for an HVAC Contractor in Florida is $45,000, according to salary.com
What Is the Median Salary for an HVAC Technician in Florida?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $51,420 and in Florida as $44,720. According to indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Florida increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $19.71 per hour in Florida and $6,250 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $22.37 per hour in Florida and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $20.83 per hour in Florida and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $71,570 per year in Florida and $11,250 overtime per year.
According to Salary.com, the average licensed HVAC Mechanic salary in Florida is $40,472 as of November 25, 2020, but the range typically falls between $34,359 and $51,455. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC Contractor License in Florida?
The different licenses cost different amounts in Florida. The fees for licenses are based on whether you are using the certification or registration process and when you file for the license:
Registered Contractor Fee: $309 if applying between May 1 of an odd year and August 31 of an even year; $209 if applying between September 1 of an even year and April 30 of an odd year.
Certified Contractor Fee: $249 if applying between May 1 of an even year and August 31 of an odd year; $149 if applying between September 1 of an odd year and April 30 of an even year.
Renewals are due every two years on August 31. Certified licenses expire in even-numbered years, while registered licenses expire in odd-numbered years.
The renewal fee for both types of license is $209.
You will also have to pay fees for the examinations. The statewide exam is administered by Professional Testing, Inc. The registration fee is $135. The Business and Finance test is $80. The Trade Knowledge-based test is $80.
How to Get an HVAC License in Florida
According to the state website, to become a state-certified contractor in Florida, you must:
Be at least 18 years of age.
Meet the educational/experience requirements.
Obtain a passing score on all parts of the Florida State Construction examination.
Be of good moral character.
Pay all applicable fees.
Obtain worker’s compensation coverage.
Demonstrate financial responsibility.
Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Florida. Some certification programs only require one or two semesters before you can begin serving as an assistant and begin accruing the work experience you need. Other programs can be two- or four-year college degree programs in air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating systems technology.
Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Palm Beach State College, and Florida State College at Jacksonville all appear on a Top 10 Ranking nationwide.
Here are three great lists of the best heating and cooling system schools in Florida:
Tuition: The Cost of Tuition depends on the program you choose but can range from about $600 for a certificate program to about $15,000 per year at a four-year school.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED (General Educational Development) degree.
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.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Florida, federal-level EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require that HVAC 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, 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 Florida
Certified contractors must perform 14 hours of continuing education during each license period. The CE credits must come from a state-approved provider.
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