Kentucky HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Kentucky
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The need for HVAC professionals continues to grow. With advancement in technology, residential, commercial, and industrial HVAC systems are becoming more complex, so now more than ever we need these essential workers to be expertly trained to do HVAC work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers is projected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030.
Kentucky employs 5,790 licensed HVAC Master contractors and Journeyman HVAC Mechanics. Licensing board requirements for these skilled professionals vary from state to state. In Kentucky, only HVAC, electrical, and plumbing licenses are issued at the state level.
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Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Kentucky
Is a license required for HVAC Contractors in Kentucky? Yes.
To legally perform heating, air conditioning and refrigeration work in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, you must be a licensed master HVAC contractor, licensed journeyman HVAC mechanic or a registered apprentice working under a licensed contractor.
The Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction - Division of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning issues the licenses. Its website states, “The mission of the Division of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is to protect the lives and property of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky through regulation and licensing of the industry and to ensure the skills and knowledge of HVAC contractors and journeymen by means of continuing education.”
Types of HVAC Licenses in Kentucky
What are the different types of HVAC license in Kentucky?
Kentucky HVAC Certificate of Apprenticeship
Kentucky Journeyman HVAC Mechanic License
Kentucky Master HVAC Contractor License
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Kentucky
You must be at least 18 years of age.
Register for a certificate of apprenticeship.
Complete and document two years of experience or a training program and 1 year of on-the-job training under the direct supervision of a licensed journeyman HVAC mechanic and general supervision of a master HVAC contractor.
Take and pass the journeyman examination and pay testing fee of $80.
Apply for Journeyman HVAC Mechanic License and pay licensing fee.
If you wish to own your own business you must then work for two years as a licensed journeyman under the supervision of a Master HVAC Contractor before applying for a Master HVAC Contractor License.
Take and pass the Master HVAC Contractor License examination, which includes a section on business and law and pay $80 testing fee.
Pay Master HVAC Contractor License fee.
Provide proof of general liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 and $300,000 property damage insurance as required by law.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Kentucky
There are many benefits to getting your Kentucky HVAC Journeyman Mechanic license or your Master HVAC Contractor license:
Most important, this licensure is required by law in Kentucky.
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 Kentucky?
The salary for an HVAC technician in Kentucky is on the low side compared to the national average, but the cost of living is also lower in the Bluegrass State. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $53,410 and in Kentucky as $44,600. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Kentucky increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $19.96 per hour in Kentucky and $8,000 overtime per year.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $21.57 per hour in Kentucky and $6,250 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $23.91 per hour in Kentucky and $6,500 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $77,186 per year in Kentucky and $9,375 overtime per year.
Salary 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.
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How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC License in Kentucky?
The cost of getting an HVAC license in Kentucky is relatively low. There is no fee to register to receive your Certificate of Apprenticeship from the DHBC to begin your training. The annual fee for a Journeyman Mechanic is $50, and the annual fee for a Master HVAC Contractor is $250. You’ll need to renew it every year by the end of your birth month. Here’s the tricky part: The initial licensing fee is prorated for no less than seven months or up to as much as 18 months based on what month you apply for it and what month it will expire. So, there’s a whole chart at the end of the Journeyman HVAC Mechanic License Application and at the end of the Master HVAC Contractor License Application to help you determine exactly what amount you should pay based on whether you are paying for only seven months or as many as 18 months.
You can also expect to pay $80 for each licensing exam.
How to Get an HVAC License in Kentucky
Kentucky follows the apprenticeship model of many other states. For every licensing level, you must be at least 18 years old. The state requires HVAC apprentices to register with the Division of HVAC to get a Certificate of Apprenticeship and then begin accumulating the two years of work experience that must be documented before applicants can take the journeyman licensing examination.
WORK EXPERIENCE: The HVAC Certificate of Apprenticeship authorizes you to work in the HVAC trade in Kentucky under:
The direct supervision of at least one journeyman HVAC mechanic; and
The general supervision of a master HVAC contractor.
To apply for your certificate of apprenticeship you must have a Master HVAC contractor sign your application. You can begin the process by finding a program sponsor yourself as an apprentice/entry level worker or through a vocational school or community college. Sponsors of both full-length traditional programs and shorter programs for applicants who’ve already taken some HVAC classes can be found on the Kentucky Education & Workforce Development Cabinet’s Apprenticeship page.
Certification tests are rigorous and thorough, so additional formal education at a college or trade school may be a more helpful first step in your training to be an HVAC technician. Employers often state a preference for HVAC technicians who have graduated from a relevant trade school or technical college because they have been educated in key skills needed for the job.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM AND PAY EXAM FEE: After getting the documented work experience you need, you can register to take the Journeyman HVAC Mechanic examination. The Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction has contracted with Prov Inc. to develop and administer their licensing examination program. To register and schedule for testing, go to https://www.provexam.com/register. The exam fee is $80. You can take your test at any of the company's testing centers.
APPLY FOR JOURNEYMAN HVAC MECHANIC LICENSE: Once you’ve passed your exam and have all the other documentation demonstrating you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, HVAC apprentices may apply for the Journeyman HVAC Mechanic License using this form. At the bottom of the application you will find a chart to help you determine the correct application fee. The annual fee for a Journeyman Mechanic license is $50. However, the initial licensing fee is prorated for no less than seven months or up to as much as 18 months based on what month you apply for it and what month it will expire. All licenses expire at the end of the license holder’s birth month. You can work as a journeyman indefinitely. You simply need to renew your license every year and work under the supervision of a Master HVAC Contractor.
ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE FOR MASTER LICENSE: If you would like to own your own business, you will need to get a Master HVAC Contractor License. You will need to document an additional two more years of experience as a journeyman to qualify to register to sit for the Master exam.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM AND PAY EXAM FEE: As stated above the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction has contracted with Prov Inc. to develop and administer their licensing examination program. To register and schedule for testing, go to https://www.provexam.com/register. The exam fee is $80.
APPLY FOR MASTER HVAC CONTRACTOR LICENSE: Once you’ve passed the exam and have all the other documentation demonstrating you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, Journeyman mechanics can apply for the Master HVAC Contractor License using this form. At the bottom of the application you will find a chart to help you determine the correct application fee. The annual fee for a Master license is $250. However, the initial licensing fee is prorated for no less than seven months or up to as much as 18 months based on what month you apply for it and what month it will expire. All licenses expire at the end of the license holder’s birth month. You will need to renew your license every year.
PROVIDE PROOF OF INSURANCE: Master Contractors must provide proof of general liability insurance in the amount of $500,000 and $300,000 property damage insurance with the application for the license.
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How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Kentucky?
It will take a minimum of two years to qualify to take the Journeyman HVAC Mechanic License Exam in Kentucky. However, while you’re working, accumulating the necessary journeyman level experience, you are also earning money. If you choose to go on to apply for the Master HVAC Contractor License, you will need an additional two years’ experience as a licensed journeyman before you can take the master level exam.
Kentucky 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 Kentucky, and they are located all over the state. For example, Kentucky Community Colleges and Technical Colleges offer HVAC diploma and associate degree programs as well as certificate programs.
There are also many more options for online training.
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 two schools in Kentucky:
South Central Kentucky Community and Technical College, Bowling Green, KY
Sullivan University, Louisville, KY
PAHRA currently has not accredited any programs in Kentucky
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements for the different programs at each of the above schools. Basically, at South Central Kentucky Community and Technical College, students must complete between 64 and 66 credit hours, which usually takes two years of full-time study. Tuition is $169 per credit hour for in-state students. The certificate program through Sullivan University College of Technology and Design can be completed in a few as nine months.
Here are two great lists to the best HVAC schools in Kentucky:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Kentucky
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Tuition: The Cost of Tuition can range from several hundred dollars for a certificate or apprentice program to $12,000 at a technical school or pursuing 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.
Kentucky HVAC Licensing Exam Details
A Journeyman license permits the holder to install any system of air conditioning, warm-air heating, and ventilation, including start-up of equipment and any ductwork necessary to make an air-conditioning system complete. The exam is made up of 60 questions and must be completed within three hours. The subject areas covered are:
Systems & Sizing
Plan Reading, Estimating & Math
A Master license allows the holder to advertise and practice heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contracting in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, including installation, maintenance, altering, remodeling, or repair of heating systems, ventilation systems, hydronic systems, burner service, or cooling systems. The exam is made up of 100 questions and must be completed within four hours. The same subject areas listed above are covered. However, questions on “Law and Administration” are added.
Both tests are open book. For a complete explanation of what materials are permitted and what is NOT permitted read the Candidate Information Bulletin thoroughly.
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Kentucky?
The Kentucky Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction - Division of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning issues and renews all HVAC licenses in the Commonwealth. Application forms for a Kentucky Plumbing License can be obtained from the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction located at the address below or from their website.
Department of Housing, Buildings and ConstructionDivision of Plumbing101 Sea Hero Road, Suite 100Frankfort, KY 40601
Does My Kentucky HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Yes, but only in one other state. Currently, the only state the Commonwealth of Kentucky has a reciprocal agreement with is Ohio. If you hold an Ohio Mechanical Contractor license, you may be eligible to receive a Kentucky Master and Journeyman HVAC license without having to retest.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Kentucky, 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, 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 Kentucky
To keep your state-issued license current, Kentucky requires you to renew it before it expires at the end of your birth month every year. The fee for renewal is $50 for a journeyman and $250 for a master.
To make sure HVAC professionals in Kentucky stay current on all laws, codes, and regulations and that they are up to date on emerging technology in the HVAC field, Kentucky requires continuing education to renew your license. You must complete six hours of continuing education from an approved provider. A calendar of upcoming continuing education opportunities is on the website as is a list of approved online providers.
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways: