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Georgia HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Georgia

category-iconHVAC, GA

Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements

  2. Types of HVAC Licenses

  3. Steps to Get an HVAC License

  4. Benefits of Getting a License

  5. What Is the Mean Salary?

  6. How Much Does It Cost?

  7. How to Get a Conditioned Air Contractor License

  8. How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License?

  9. Training Programs and Schools

  10. Licensing Exam Details

  11. Who Issues HVAC Licenses?

  12. Does My License Work in Any Other State?

  13. HVAC-Specific Requirements: EPA Certification

  14. Core Exam

  15. National HVAC Certifications

  16. Other Requirements Unique to Georgia

  17. Continuing Education

Georgia’s climate demands climate control. It’s hot and humid in the summer and can get very chilly in the winter. HVAC professionals are in high demand in the Peach State, but you’ll need some serious training before you can get a license to be a contractor there.

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 9,970 work in Georgia— that’s the tenth most of any state in the country. Yet, the industry is growing faster than people are joining the field.

Because climate control and refrigeration systems wear out and break down, there’s a constant need for the skilled tradespeople who know how to fix them. Also, with more emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant. 

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. 

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 63% of firms in Georgia had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. 

The licensure for HVAC workers and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality. 

Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Georgia

Is a license required to be an HVAC contractor in Georgia? Yes. To be a “Conditioned Air Contractor” — as they are called — in Georgia, you must be licensed.

Entry-level HVAC workers do not need a license. Georgia law expressly states that “The term "conditioned air contractor" shall not include a person who is an employee of a conditioned air contractor and who receives only a salary or hourly wage for performing conditioned air contracting work.” HVAC workers who only install, alter or repair duct systems, control systems, or insulation are not required to be licensed to work for a licensed contractor. However, if you do more extensive work such as complete installation of a conditioned air system, then you are required to be licensed.

Also, if you want to own your own HVAC business or you just want to be a more attractive hire for someone who does, you will want to get your license. To do that you’ll need at least four years of work experience, and five years if you want to work on larger commercial units. 

The Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board – Division of Conditioned Air Contractors -- oversees the licensing. It is just one of 42 licensing boards under the umbrella of the Professional Licensing Boards Division of the Office of the Georgia Secretary of State.

Types of HVAC Licenses in Georgia

What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Georgia?

There are two types of licenses for Conditioned Air Contractors in Georgia. A Class I License is a restricted license, and Class II is not restricted.

  • Class I: Class I conditioned air contractor licenses are restricted to contracting involving systems or equipment not exceeding 175,000 BTU of heating and 60,000 BTU of cooling. Applicants must document a minimum of four years of experience for Class I. The experience required for a Class I license consists of two years of residential installation experience as a lead mechanic, one year as a service technician (to include an E.P.A. license), one year of residential supervisory experience, and a board-approved heat loss and gain and duct design course.

  • Class II: Class II licenses are unrestricted. Applicants for Class II licenses must document experience with installations of conditioned air systems that exceed 175,000 BTU (net) of heating and 60,000 BTU of cooling. Applicants must document a minimum of five years of experience for Class II. The experience required for a Class II license consists of two years of installation as a lead mechanic with at least one of the years being commercial only, one year as a service technician or service supervisor (to include an E.P.A. license), two years of commercial supervisory experience and a board-approved heat loss and gain and duct design course.

Steps to Get a Conditioned Air Contractor License in Georgia

  1. You must be at least 18 years of age.

  2. You must have a high school diploma or GED.

  3. You must have four years of work experience as an HVAC professional to apply for a Class I license; or

  4. You must have five years of work experience as an HVAC professional to apply for a Class II license.

  5. Education may be applied toward the experience requirement. Completion of a diploma program of a technical school in engineering or engineering technology may be credited for up to two years of experience. Completion of a certificate program may be credited for up to one year of experience.

  6. You must submit a completed application.

  7. Take the licensing examination and pass with a score of at least 70%.

  8. Pay all required fees.

  9. An applicant must submit three references on the required form from persons who can attest to the applicant's good character and conditioned air experience to the satisfaction of the division. Each reference must be from an Architect, Professional Engineer, Inspector, or licensed conditioned air contractor who shall include his or her registration or license number.

  10. Before bidding on jobs or offering your services independently, you will need to secure a $10,000 surety bond to be deposited with a probate court judge in the county where you work primarily.

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Benefits of Getting a Conditioned Air Contractor License in Georgia

There are many benefits to getting your Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor License:

  • Since HVAC workers who only install, alter or repair duct systems, control systems, or insulation are not required to be licensed to work for a licensed contractor, having one gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.

  • If you are required to do more extensive work like complete installation, alteration, or repair of a conditioned air system then you are required to be licensed.

  • 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 Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician in Georgia?

The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Georgia is $45,960, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The salary for an HVAC worker in Georgia increases as you acquire more experience according to Indeed.com.

HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $19.47 per hour in Georgia and $6,094 overtime per year.

HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $20.55 per hour in Georgia and $6,750 overtime per year.

HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $35.26 per hour in Georgia and $8,750 overtime per year.

HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $72,601 per year in Georgia and $11,250 overtime per year.

Salary can vary widely, depending on the city where you work and other factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession. 

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Conditioned Air Contractor License in Georgia?

There are a few different fees associated with getting a Class I or Class II Conditioned Air Contractor license in Georgia.

  • $30 application fee

  • $267 exam fee

  • $24.95 EPA certification exam fee

  • $75 renewal fee every two years

How to Get a Conditioned Air Contractor License in Georgia

The process of getting your Conditioned Air Contractor License in Georgia is very rigorous and specific. There are a series of forms that make up the application to the Licensing Board. You can download them here or contact the Division of Conditioned Air Contractors-State Construction Industry Licensing board at:

237 Coliseum Drive

Macon, GA 31217

844-753-7825

WORK EXPERIENCE: Before you can apply for a contractor’s license, you must gain the necessary years of experience. You will need four years of experience before you can apply for a Class I license and five years of experience to apply for an unrestricted Class II license. The state is very specific about how to accumulate that experience and what roles you need to document to be eligible for a license.

Class I: Applicants must document a minimum of four years of experience consisting of:

  • Two years of residential installation experience as a lead mechanic

  • One year as a service technician —including attaining a federally mandated Environmental Protection Agency/EPA license

  • One year of residential supervisory experience; and

  • A board-approved heat loss and gain and duct design course

Class II: Applicants for Class II licenses must document a minimum of five years of experience, including installations of conditioned air systems that exceed 175,000 BTU (net) of heating and 60,000 BTU of cooling. The experience required for a Class II license consists of:

  • Two years of installation as a lead mechanic with at least one year being commercial only

  • One year as a service technician or service supervisor —including obtaining a federally mandated EPA license

  • Two years of commercial supervisory experience; and

  • A board-approved heat loss and gain and duct design course.

EDUCATION: Some of that work experience can be satisfied through formal education.

  • Completing a diploma program of a technical school in engineering or engineering technology may be credited for up to two years of experience.

  • Completing a certificate program may be credited for up to one year of experience.

The board requires all applicants to complete an approved course in heat loss and gain and duct design and provide a copy of your transcript that shows that you have completed the course. You can find the explanation of this requirement and a list of course options here. Make sure whatever course you take to satisfy this requirement is board-approved.

APPLY FOR LICENSE: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, you may apply for your license with the board. The application is made up of several different forms on the Professional Licensing Board website. You can find the list of them here. 

There is a Document Submission Cover Sheet that you will need to fill out for any of the possible types of application. All applicants must also fill out an Affidavit Regarding Citizenship, a Background Consent Form regarding criminal history, and an Application for Examination. If you plan to start your own business, you will also need to complete an Application for Business Registration. If you are moving from out of state where you are already a licensed HVAC contractor, you will need to submit a Reciprocity Application, and there’s a separate Application for Recently Discharged Veterans too. 

As part of the application for examination, you will need to provide three completed and notarized reference forms from professionally licensed people who are either an Architect, Professional Engineer, Inspector, or licensed conditioned air contractor with firsthand knowledge of your conditioned air experience. 

All applicants should submit a background check with application. This can be obtained by going to your local law enforcement office or through a private background check agency. If you answer “yes” on the conviction question, you must submit the requested certified documentation. 

Every applicant will need to include a $30 application fee with their documents. It should all be mailed together in a 9x12 envelope to:

Georgia Construction Industry Licensing board

Division of Conditioned Air Contractors

237 Coliseum Drive

Macon, GA 31217

TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The state of Georgia has contracted with PSI/AMP testing services to administer the exam. Once you have been approved for testing, the board will notify you that you are eligible to schedule either your Class I Restricted Examination or your Class II Unrestricted Examination. If approved, AMP will provide you with a Candidate Information Bulletin, which includes an outline of topics covered in the examination like general knowledge and business and law as well as protocols for applying. Applicants are responsible for submitting a scheduling form and correct fee to PSI by the posted deadline. The deadline dates are available on the board website. If you achieve a passing grade of 70%, you will receive your license. 

How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Georgia?

It will take a minimum of four years to qualify to take the licensing exam in Georgia. However, you will be working, accumulating the necessary experience and earning money the whole time.

Georgia 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 Georgia,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 like the one offered by the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association of Georgia (PHCC). 

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 Georgia:

  • Coastal Pines Technical College in Waycross, GA

  • Coastal Pines Technical College – Golden Isles in Brunswick, GA

  • Coastal Pines Technical College – Jessup in Jessup, GA

  • Lanier Technical College in Gainesville, GA

  • North Georgia Technical College in Clarksville, GA

  • Southern Crescent Technical College in Griffin, GA

  • Southern Regional Technical College in Thomasville, GA

  • Southern Regional Technical College — Moultrie Campus in Moultrie, GA

There are four PAHRA accredited programs in Georgia:

  • West Central Technical College in Carrollton, GA

  • Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Clarkston, GA

  • Georgia Piedmont Technical College in Covington, GA

  • Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA

HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements for all of the programs at each of the above schools.

Here are three great lists to the best HVAC schools in Georgia:

Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose. Some of the schools listed above offer certificate programs that require as few as 12 credits, and others have associate degree options that are up to 70 credit hours. Most charge $100 per credit 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 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.

Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor Licensing Exam Details

Both Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor Examinations are administered by PSI Testing Services after it acquired AMP Testing Services.

Both the Class I and Class II exams are open book, and each is made up of 100 questions plus 20 pretest questions for a total of 120 questions. The exam is administered in two parts. You will have seven hours to complete both parts— 3½ hours for Part 1, then a break and 3½ hours for Part 2.

The Candidate Information Bulletin describes the exam and how to apply to take it. If you are paying for the exam by credit card, you can complete the application online. If you are paying by company check or money order, you must complete this application and mail it to:

PSI

18000 W. 105th St.

Olathe, KS 66061-7543

The main subject areas on the exams are:

  • Regulations, Laws, and Administrative Functions

  • System Design

  • Installation

  • Maintain and Repair System

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 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. 

The cost of the exam is $267.

Exams are given by computer at PSI Test Centers throughout Georgia,and in Jacksonville and Tallahassee, Florida and Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Georgia testing centers are in:

  • Duluth, GA

  • Marietta, GA

  • Smyrna, GA

  • Atlanta, GA

  • Decatur, GA

  • Macon, GA

  • Savannah, GA

  • Tifton, GA

Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Georgia?

The Georgia Construction Industry Licensing Board – Division of Conditioned Air Contractors oversees the licensing.

Does My Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor License Work in Any Other State?

Yes, your Georgia Conditioned Air Contractor License works in three other states. Georgia has reciprocity agreements with Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas. You will need to use this application to apply for reciprocity.

HVAC-Specific Requirements: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Certification

Everywhere throughout the country, including Georgia, 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.

Georgia Requires you to have this certification before you apply for either a Class I or a Class II Conditioned Air Contractor license. 

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. 

Core Exam

For all certifications, you must pass the “Core Section” of the EPA certification exam. It covers the following topics:

  • Ozone depletion

  • Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol

  • Section 608 regulations

  • Substitute refrigerants and oils

  • Refrigeration

  • The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim)

  • Recovery techniques

  • Dehydration evacuation

  • Safety

  • Shipping

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 Georgia

To keep your state-issued license current, Georgia requires you to renew it every two years. You must apply for renewal prior to the expiration date. A renewal email reminder is sent to all current licensees approximately eight weeks prior to renewal. The renewal fee for a two-year period is $75. To qualify for renewal, conditioned air contractors must have completed continuing education.

Continuing Education

Georgia-licensed conditioned air contractors must complete at least four hours per year of instruction related to their profession to renew their license. Courses must be conducted by a college, vocational-technical school, or trade association. Conditioned air contractors may also complete courses conducted by a utility or equipment manufacturer. To determine when courses are held, you must contact one of these agencies directly. You can find a list of providers here.  This is the form you will use to submit your continuing education hours. 

Resources

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