Louisiana HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Louisiana
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HVAC, also known as Mechanical, contractors need to have a solid knowledge base to install, service, and repair today’s technologically advanced heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. Acquiring the mix of electrical, mechanical, and plumbing skills takes time, but it can provide you with a stable career with a lot of growth potentially — even becoming your own boss by owning your own mechanical contracting business.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and Louisiana employs 4,400 of them. Employment is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 throughout the country adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. According to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the growth rate is expected to be higher in Louisiana — projected at 11%.
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That statistic is supported by how many contractors are trying to find skilled tradesmen. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 55% of firms in Louisiana had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. So, if you get the training you need, you will have a lot of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. And, as more of an emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to comply with these new standards. Licensing requirements for HVAC contractors vary from state to state and in some cases, from locality to locality.
Licensing Requirements for Mechanical Contractors in Louisiana
Is a license required to work as an HVAC contractor in Louisiana? Yes.
But the state only licenses for projects over a specific dollar amount. To legally perform heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work valuing more than $10,000 in labor and materials in the state of Louisiana, you must be a licensed mechanical contractor or be working under a state-licensed mechanical contractor.
Commercial Mechanical Contractor licenses are issued through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors (LSLBC). That same board also licenses electricians, plumbers, general contractors, mold remediation contractors, and many other specialties.
The state does not license technicians, but does offer sub-classifications of the Commercial Mechanical Contractor license including just for Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, Duct Work, and Refrigeration.
Under the Louisiana Contractors’ Licensing Law, a mechanical contractor is defined as “any person who undertakes to, attempts to, or submits a price or bid or offers to construct, supervise, superintend, oversee, direct, or in any manner assume charge of the construction, alteration, repair, improvement, movement, demolition, putting up, tearing down, or furnishing labor, or furnishing labor together with material and equipment, or installing the same for the construction, installation, maintenance, testing, and repair of air conditioning, refrigeration, heating systems, and plumbing for all residential, commercial, and industrial applications as well as ventilation systems, mechanical work controls, boilers and other pressure vessels, steam and hot water systems and piping, gas piping and fuel storage, and chilled water and condensing water systems and piping, including but not limited to any type of industrial process piping and related valves, fittings and components, when the cost of the undertaking exceeds the sum of ten thousand dollars.”
Below that monetary threshold, you will need to adhere to local municipal licensing ordinances. Many jurisdictions throughout Louisiana require testing and licensing before you can legally perform mechanical contracting work as a subcontractor within their area.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Louisiana
What are the different types of HVAC, also referred to as mechanical, licenses in Louisiana?
According to the State Licensing Board for Contractors, a commercial license is required for commercial projects of $50,000 or more; $1 or more for hazardous materials; or in excess of $10,000 for Plumbing, Electrical or Mechanical. The total value of the project includes the cost of all labor and materials.
The state offers only one type of complete mechanical contracting license, and it is a commercial license, but it covers residential building as well, following the same monetary guideline. There are also sub-classifications that fall under that heading that require knowledge only for a defined scope of work rather than the overlapping specialties of plumbing and piping work that are needed for a full commercial mechanical contractor license.
The major classification is:
Mechanical Work (Statewide) — Refers to hydraulic and pneumatic systems, including such components as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, hydronic and steam systems, pressure vessels, plumbing, gas piping, process piping, mechanical equipment, air and process heaters and seals, and air vacuums and filters. Also includes mechanical work for marine vessels. This license includes the three sub-classifications and requires a broad trade exam.
The sub-classifications of mechanical work are:
Heating, Air Conditioning, Ventilation, Duct Work, and Refrigeration — Refers to the installation, maintenance or repair of air conditioning, heating, ventilation, ductwork, refrigeration, coolers, freezers, and ice rinks. Requires trade exam just for this specialty.
Industrial Pipe Work and Insulation — Refers to the fabrication, installation or repair of process piping systems, components, and insulation related to chemical industries, food and dairy industries, refineries, etc. Requires trade exam just for this specialty.
Plumbing — Refers to the installation, maintenance, and repair of potable and non-potable tap water and /or sewer water systems within a building structure or house. Requires credential from State Plumbing Board for the major classification of plumbing.
Controls for Mechanical Work — Refers to the installation or maintenance of electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic controls for mechanical systems. No trade exam required.
A statewide mechanical license exempts you from local, municipal, or parish regulatory authority examination procedures and you may bid and perform work within any local jurisdiction upon paying all appropriate fees.
Steps to Get a Mechanical Contractor License in Louisiana
Typically be at least 18 years of age.
Have a high school diploma or GED Certificate.
Attend formal HVAC diploma or certificate program or earn a two-year degree at a community college, vocational/trade school, or university; or
Get a formal apprenticeship through a local union or trade organization or an informal apprenticeship through a sponsoring employer as an entry-level worker supervised by a licensed contractor.
After learning the trade through classroom training and hands-on experience to prepare you for examination, you can apply to become a Commercial Mechanical Contractor through the state.
Complete the Commercial License Application. Additional information/documents are requested within the application.
Provide a financial statement affidavit showing a minimum of $10,000 net worth (must be current within 12 months of application). Proof of general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance is only required for Residential license and Mold Remediation applicants, not Commercial applicants.
Pass the required examinations. After the application is submitted, the Qualifying Party will receive testing information in the form of the candidate information bulletin.
Must take Business & Law course.
Must take Trade exam.
Certain classifications, including the commercial Mechanical Contractor, require certifications from other agencies before obtaining a license with the board. On the Exam/Classification list, you’ll see Plumbing as a sub-classification of the Mechanical Statewide license. Mechanical Work contractors who perform plumbing jobs must also possess a Master Plumber License with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana or use someone who has a master plumber license to perform plumbing jobs. Mechanical Work contractors who perform gas piping jobs for buildings and residences must also possess a Master Gas Fitter’s license with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana or use someone who has a Master Gas Fitter’s License to perform gas piping jobs; however, Mechanical Work contractors may make gas piping connections, disconnections, or reconnections from the outlet side of the appliance shutoff valve to the appliance inlet without a Gas Fitter’s License.
Be approved by the Board before issuance of the license.
Benefits of Getting a Mechanical Contractors License in Louisiana
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Louisiana Mechanical Contractor license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Louisiana to be licensed through the state to perform heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration work valuing more than $10,000.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed Mechanical contractors can: operate a business and advertise services, obtain commercial insurance, pull building permits and pass inspections, bid on public and government projects exceeding $10,000.
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 Median Salary for an HVAC Professional in Louisiana?
The annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers in Louisiana is $44,660, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau says the national annual mean wage is $51,420 for HVAC mechanics and installers, but the difference can be accounted for by the lower cost of living in Louisiana. According to indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Louisiana increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $21.20 per hour in Louisiana and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $21.30 per hour in Louisiana and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $20.32 per hour in Louisiana and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $79,766 per year in Louisiana and $11,250 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.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Mechanical Contractor License in Louisiana?
If you want to get started in the field, you will most likely take one of two paths. Either you will want to attend a vocational school or technical or community college for a certificate program or Associate of Applied Science degree or you can apply for an apprenticeship. Obviously, if you choose schooling, you will have that expense upfront. You may encounter some fees with an apprenticeship, but usually, your employer covers the cost. You’ll also be paid a portion of a journeyman level wage and that salary will increase as you learn.
The Louisiana Mechanical Contractor license fee is based on the number of classifications you want. Each classification is $120. The Business and Law requirement is another $120. There is a $60 Background Financial Investigation Processing Fee and a $400 fee if your company is located out of state. There is a fee worksheet available on the website to help you calculate your total cost, based on your particular license.
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How to Get a Mechanical Contractor License in Louisiana
LEARN THE TRADE: Because HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex, most aspiring HVAC professionals opt to get some post-secondary education. Alternately, you could begin with an apprenticeship that will combine hands-on training with classroom instruction and usually takes four to five years. The bottom line is that you need to learn how to do the job so you can pass the mandated local or state-level testing to acquire an HVAC license. There are hundreds of entry-level HVAC technician jobs posted on job boards like indeed and zip recruiter. In many cases, the employer of an entry-level HVAC worker will pair you with a journeyman level technician to teach you and will pay for classroom instruction at a local community college as long as you maintain a B grade or better.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: Louisiana requires anyone applying to take the licensing exam to be a Mechanical Contractor to Complete the Commercial Application. Included with the application, you must provide a financial statement affidavit current to within 12 months of the date of filing, prepared by an accountant, bookkeeper, or certified public accountant and signed by the applicant before a notary public, stating that the applicant’s assets and financial condition is true and correct and demonstrates a net worth of at least $10,000. An applicant without the net worth required can instead secure a bond, letter of credit, or other security acceptable to the board.
TAKE EXAMINATION: Pass the required contractors exam or exams. After the application is submitted, the Qualifying Party will receive testing information. You must take a Business & Law course and the trade exam for Mechanical Contractor described in the Mechanical Work (Statewide) candidate information bulletin.
ADDITIONAL LICENSURE REQUIREMENTS FROM OTHER AGENCIES: Mechanical Work contractors who perform plumbing jobs must also possess a Master Plumber License with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana or use someone who has a master plumber license to perform plumbing jobs. Mechanical Work contractors who perform gas piping jobs for buildings and residences must also possess a Master Gas Fitter’s license with the State Plumbing Board of Louisiana or use someone who has a Master Gas Fitter’s License to perform gas piping jobs; however, Mechanical Work contractors may make gas piping connections, disconnections, or reconnections from the outlet side of the appliance shutoff valve to the appliance inlet without a Gas Fitter’s License.
Mechanical Work contractors installing, moving, or reinstalling boilers or other pressure vessels may be subject to licensure with the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal.
BE APPROVED FOR LICENSE: You must be approved by the Board before issuance of the license.
LICENSE BENEFITS: Once licensed through the state, Commercial Mechanical Contractors:
May bid, contract, and perform any kind of mechanical work without limit anywhere throughout the state.
Exempt from any local licensing exam.
Local license must still be obtained as required.
Employees not required to hold a separate license to perform mechanical work or pull permits.
Exempt from all Fire Marshal licensing requirements for piping for fire sprinkler systems.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Mechanical Contractors License in Louisiana?
It will take some time to acquire the skill and knowledge you need to pass the state-mandated business and law and trade exams to earn your Louisiana Mechanical Contractors license.
You will have most likely spent some time taking classes first or an apprenticeship will take four to five years. As an apprentice, you will be earning a wage as you learn what you need to pass the state licensing exam. Likewise, if you take classes first as part of a certificate program or earn an Associate degree, you’ll still need to acquire some work experience to feel prepared to pass locally mandated testing if you’re going to be working on jobs worth less than $10,000 or pass the state exam for commercial or residential projects valuing $10,000 or more.
Louisiana HVAC Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Louisiana, and they are located all over the state.
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).
There are no programs in Louisiana currently accredited by PAHRA, but there are 12 that HVAC Excellence has given accreditation. They are:
Baton Rouge Community College - Acadian Campus In Baton Rouge
Central Louisiana Technical Community College in Alexandria
Central Louisiana Technical Community College in Natchitoches
Delgado Community College - Jefferson Campus in Metairie
Delgado Community College - Sid Collier Campus in New Orleans
Fletcher Technical Community College in Thibodaux
ITI Technical College in Baton Rouge
Louisiana Delta Community College in West Monroe
Northshore Technical Community College - Sullivan Campus in Bogalusa
River Parishes Community College, Reserve Campus in Reserve
South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette
South Louisiana Community College - Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements and tuition costs for the different programs at the above schools.
Here are three great lists of the best HVAC schools in Louisiana:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Louisiana
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. The certificate program at Delgado Community College mentioned above costs about $5,000 for residents, and the technical diploma costs about $10,000. Blue Cliff College is not listed above but has campuses in Houma and Lafayette with a 900-hour HVAC diploma that costs about $15,000 for tuition.
Apprenticeship: Apprenticeships can run from $500 to $2,000 or often are completely employer sponsored. The UA Local Union 198 Apprenticeship Program is a five-year program. To apply for a spot at either of their two training centers in Baton Rouge or Lake Charles, you will need:
Social Security Card
Current Driver’s License
High School Diploma and Transcript or GED Certificate
$25 application fee (cash or check only).
Louisiana’s Workforce Commission Department of Labor Apprenticeship Division maintains a website of Registered Apprenticeships that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeships through the Department of Labor are recognized nationwide, so your credentials will move with you.
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.
Louisiana HVAC Licensing Exam Details
All examinations are administered by the LSLBC. For the Mechanical Contractor exam, you can expect the following content areas, along with their percentages:
Plumbing and Gas Piping - 20
Project Management, Estimating and Plan Reading - 15
HVAC and Refrigeration Systems - 19
Air Distribution Systems and Ventilation - 15
Piping Systems and Hydronics (Commercial, Residential, and Industrial) - 19
Instrumentation (Controls, Balancing) - 9
Solar and Alternative-Energy Systems - 3
LSLBC also provides a reference list at the end of the candidate information bulletin that can help you prepare for each of the various exams.
If you plan to apply for the full Mechanical Work (Statewide) license, you will also need to test for the Master Plumber credential listed as Plumbing (Statewide) - “11” on the classification sheet.
Who Issues HVAC Contractor Licenses in Louisiana?
Commercial Mechanical Contractor licenses for either commercial or residential projects totaling $10,000 or more are issued through the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. If the value of the project is less than $10,000, you still must be licensed through a local governing agency for whatever municipality or parish where the work is being done. The City of New Orleans offers four types of HVAC or Mechanical licenses.
Class “ A” AC/ Refrigeration Contractor
Class “ A” Master Gasfitter
Class “ B” Journeyman Mechanic
Class “B” Journeyman Gasfitter
You must be 18 years or older to apply for a license within New Orleans and meet several other requirements including passing a trade exam as explained in the trade checklist.
Be sure to check with local governments where you intend to work to make sure you meet any additional licensing or permitting requirements.
Does My Louisiana Mechanical Contractor License Work in Any Other State?
In general, contractors licensed in Louisiana can have their qualifying party receive credit for exams for equivalent classifications with the Boards of those states and can be exempted from the 60-day waiting period, provided that:
For the past three years, they have not been sanctioned for violations by the reciprocal Board.
They meet all other requirements for licensure by the Board to which they are applying for a license.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Louisiana, 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 provide it during the course, 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.
Core Exam: 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.
Continuing Education: There is currently no continuing education requirement to renew your Louisiana Commercial Mechanical Contractor license.
Renewal: Once the license is issued, the initial license certificate will be valid for one year, then you may renew your license for a one, two, or three-year period. A renewal notice will be emailed or mailed to the address on record approximately 60 days prior to the expiration, 15 days prior to expiration, and upon expiration of the license. You must maintain a current address with this Board. You must maintain a qualifying party for all classifications listed on your license.
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