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

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Table of Contents
  1. Licensing Requirements for HVAC Professionals

  2. Types of HVAC Licenses in Maine

  3. Steps to Becoming an HVAC Professional

  4. Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Professional

  5. What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician?

  6. How to Become an HVAC Professional in Maine

  7. How Much Does It Cost to Become a licensed HVAC professional? 

  8. How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC professional?

  9. Maine HVAC Training programs and schools

  10. Maine HVAC-Related Licensing Exam Details

  11. EPA Certification

  12. Core Exam

  13. Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Maine?

  14. National HVAC Certifications

  15. Continuing Education

  16. Renewal

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration technologies keep advancing and becoming more complex. In Maine, three-fifths of households still use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating, a larger share than any other state according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That is perhaps why Maine does not issue HVAC technicians or contractor licenses but rather “Oil Burner or Solid Fuel” credentials on the state level. No matter the title used, learning this trade takes time and hard work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide and Maine employs 2,190 of them. Employment is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 throughout the country, adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks.

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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.

A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. As an emphasis continues to be placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to meet these new standards. Licensing requirements for HVAC technicians and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality. Maine has some statewide licensing, but often has local permitting and licensing. There are 16 counties in the state of Maine and hundreds of cities and towns, so you’ll want to check with the jurisdiction(s) where you intend to work to make sure you’re following any local requirements. For instance, additional permitting is required for HVAC systems in Bangor, and the Permitting and Inspections Department in Portland has its own regulations.

Licensing Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Maine

Is a license required for HVAC technicians and contractors in Maine? Yes and no. In Maine, it’s complicated. The licensing for HVAC work in Maine is not a straightforward statewide license for HVAC technician or HVAC contractor. Instead the Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation in Maine oversees the Maine Fuel Board and issues licenses in the categories of Master Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician, Journeyman Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician, Apprentice Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician, Propane and Natural Gas Technicians, Limited Propane Energy Auditors, Limited Oil Energy Auditors, Limited Tank Installers and Limited Wood Pellet Technicians. HVAC work also requires initial wiring, however, and that requires limited electrical licensing through the Maine Electricians’ Licensing Board.

To get started in the HVAC field in Maine, you just need to meet employer expectations and eventually get licensed in the specialty in which you’d like to practice. There are federal certification requirements to consider as well. If you want to become an HVAC technician, you’ll need to have a certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to legally handle refrigerants. More on that later.

Types of HVAC Licenses in Maine

What are the different types of HVAC related licenses in Maine?

There are no “HVAC” licenses in Maine, but there are other licenses that relate to the work of servicing heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. Each has a scope of work permitted and specific requirements for licensure. On the Maine Fuel Board – Licensing web page the board lists each of the licenses that it oversees. Among them are the following, along with the requirements for each.

Apprentice Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician

  • Completed application

  • $40 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years

Journeyman Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician

  • Complete at least one year of experience as a licensed apprentice; OR

  • Successfully complete a board-approved course consisting, at a minimum, of 160 hours of study, of which at least 75 hours are made up of laboratory work on oil- burning equipment and related systems and six months experience as a licensed apprentice; OR

  • Successfully complete a minimum one-year accredited heating course at a Maine community college consisting, at a minimum, of 320 hours of study, of which at least 150 hours are made up of laboratory work on oil-burning equipment and related systems

  • Affidavit signed by licensed Master Oil Burner Technician verifying required licensed hours

  • Student Certificate, Diploma or Transcript if applicant has completed 160 or 320 hours of study

  • Pass state-mandated examination

  • $100 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years 

Master Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician

  • Master Oil Burner Technician: Complete at least four years of licensed experience. At least two of the four years must be as a licensed Journeyman.

  • Master Solid Fuel Technician: Complete at least two years of licensed experience as an Apprentice Solid Fuel Technician.

  • Affidavit signed by licensed Master Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician verifying required licensed hours.

  • A licensed Master Oil Burner Technician can sit for the Master Solid Fuel examination without acquiring any solid fuel practical experience.

  • Pass state mandated examination

  • $200 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years 

Oil Limited Energy Auditor Technician

  • Provide evidence of satisfactory completion of the Certified Building Analyst 1 certification test and field examination offered by the Building Performance Institute, the equivalent Maine residential auditor certification program, or an equivalent training program acceptable to the board.

  • $50 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years

Propane Limited Energy Auditor Technician

  • Provide evidence of satisfactory completion of the Certified Building Analyst 1 certification test and field examination offered by the Building Performance Institute, the equivalent Maine residential energy auditor certification program, or an equivalent training program acceptable to the board.

  • $50 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years

Propane and Natural Gas Helper

  • Completed application

  • $20 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years

Propane and Natural Gas Technician

  • Applicants must complete a board-approved training program to qualify for a license examination.

  • To become licensed with the Large Equipment Connection and Service Technician authority, an applicant must hold a license as a technician with the Appliance Connection and Service Technician endorsement and pass the Large Equipment Connection and Service Technician examination.

  • Pass state-mandated examination

  • $100 license fee

  • Criminal Background Fee, $21

  • Renew every two years

Steps to Becoming an HVAC Professional in Maine

  1. Typically be at least 18 years of age to meet employer requirements.

  2. Typically have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent, again to satisfy employer expectations.

  3. Get the proper training for state licensing either by attending community or technical college or trade school or getting an apprenticeship or entry-level job to acquire the necessary training and work experience.

  4. Apply for a license and pass a state exam for those licenses where it’s required.

  5. If your work requires handling refrigerants, get EPA Section 608 Certification.

  6. If you wish to own your own business in the HVAC field in Maine after you’ve accumulated significant experience and local licensing and certifications, you’ll need a state-issued business license, worker’s compensation insurance and unemployment insurance.

  7. Check with your municipality for further requirements. Cities or counties within the state may have further regulations, so it’s always recommended to check with local authorities before going to work.

Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Professional in Maine

There are many benefits to getting your HVAC-related license in Maine:

  • Most important, it is required by law in Maine to be licensed through the state to perform most heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration work, beginning with being registered as an apprentice for oil burner and/or solid fuel technician or several of the other specific categories.

  • You will earn as you learn during your apprenticeship with a guarantee of pay increases as you develop new skills.

  • A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.

  • Having a license protects your company and customers.

  • A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market and increases your earning potential. 

What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician in Maine?

The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Maine is $50,380 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, according to Indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Maine increase with experience and training.

  • HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $24.32 per hour in Maine and $6,094 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $26.35 per hour in Maine and $6,562 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $27.35 per hour in Maine and $8,750 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $51,972 per year in Maine and $11,250 overtime per year. 

Pay 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. 

How to Become an HVAC Professional in Maine

To qualify for any kind of HVAC license in Maine you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience. Maine doesn’t have predetermined steps but does have requirements for licensure in the heating field at the state level. You’ll need to acquire some combination of classroom training and hands-on work experience.

EDUCATION: One path you can take to enter the HVAC/R field in Maine is to attend community college to take the coursework to pass the required certifications. For instance, Eastern Maine Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Heating. Graduates of the program will be well on their way by being EPA Certified, and have CETP (Certified Employee Training Program) gas certification that leads to a State of Maine Gas Technician License. Graduates will also meet full educational requirements and partial field experience requirements for State of Maine licensing as a journeyman oil-burner technician and will meet partial educational and field experience requirements for the limited refrigeration electrician.

APPRENTICESHIP: Another way to enter the field is through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are sometimes referred to as “The Other Four-Year Degree,” because it’s like college for the trades. If you get one of the coveted apprentice openings through your local United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs it’s like getting a full-ride scholarship to college. UA Local 716 offers apprenticeships for three trades — plumbers, pipefitters, and HVACR. Welding is part of all of them. Each is a five-year program allowing you to earn while you learn. Apprentices are mentored on the job by Journeyworkers and go to school to learn trade-specific subjects. They also have the opportunity to complete a college degree at little to no cost. When they graduate from the apprenticeship, each student is encouraged to take five additional online classes to earn an associate’s degree in applied science specific to the trade they have chosen. 

WORK EXPERIENCE: If you don’t get one of those sought-after union apprentice openings, you can apply for entry-level work and treat it as an informal apprenticeship to begin getting the practical experience you need while attending classes at night or on weekends to prepare for the trade-specific certifications and licenses. Employers will often give you the opportunity to earn while you learn as long as they see you are committed to getting licensed.

Some employers will act as a sponsor in a registered apprenticeship through the Maine Department of Labor, which maintains a list 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. You will be required to attend classes at night or on weekends to get the requisite theoretical training, but you’ll be getting your academic instruction in tandem with your practical experience, and you probably won’t be paying for all of it. Often your employer will pick up some or all of those costs.

No matter whether you get a formal apprenticeship or just start working as a helper, be sure to apply for an apprentice license online.

APPLY FOR EXAMINATION/LICENSE: Once you’ve completed the training and the certifications for whichever state license you are seeking (listed above) you may apply for examination or for those licenses that don’t require an exam for the license itself. There is a page on the state website that provides all the information you need on how to apply and the costs associated. You will need to complete a criminal background check and pay a $21 fee for it.

You can apply online. Oil and/or Solid Fuel licenses require examination, and so does the Propane and Natural Gas Technician license. These are the two licenses that are most commonly held by installers and service technicians. You must complete either a CETP or board-approved training program to qualify for the exam.

TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The examinations are administered by Prov Testing Services. Each costs either $65 or $90. All of the fees and the instructions for testing are listed in the Candidate Information Bulletin. More detailed information on the exam process is provided below.

Once you pass your respective exam and supply everything requested in the license application, it will be issued to you. All licenses must be renewed every two years from the date they were first issued.

How Much Does It Cost to Become a licensed HVAC professional in Maine? 

How you get started will determine your upfront costs in Maine. If you choose to start with a college program, you can expect to pay $2,000 to $3,000 for in-state tuition at any of the Maine Community College System campuses. The HVAC programs at any of the Northeast Technical Institute campuses will cost about $20,000 in tuition.

An apprenticeship will cost considerably less. The cost to register as an apprentice is $40. A journeyperson license will cost $100. Master level is $200. Testing fees are either $65 or $90, depending upon the exam.

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How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC professional in Maine? 

The time it takes to become licensed depends on which one you are seeking. Each license has different requirements for the number of hours worked and the type of program you must complete. All of those requirements are listed here.  To qualify to take the examination for the Journeyman Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician, you must complete at least one year of experience as a licensed apprentice. To qualify to take the examination for the Master Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician, you must complete at least four years of licensed experience and at least two of the four must be as a licensed journeyman.

Maine HVAC Training programs and schools 

There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Maine, and they are located all over the state. The US Department of Labor’s careeronestop.org website lists 339 training programs for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Engineering Technology Technicians in Maine. An HVAC-related license in Maine requires a minimum amount of training and/or education, and you must demonstrate competency through a state-mandated exam.  

There are 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 Maine accredited by either organization, but there are some well-respected options for enrollment statewide.

HVAC programs are offered through Maine’s Community College System. Southern Maine Community College offers an Associate Degree in Heating, Air Conditioning, Refrigeration & Plumbing that takes 4.5 full-time semesters and is 62 credit hours. There’s also a Certificate in Heating program that takes half that time. You can expect to spend about $2,880 per semester for in-state tuition. You can find the breakdown of tuition and fees at this linkEastern Maine Community College has an Associate of Applied Science degree program in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning & Heating. The Central Maine Community College HVAC/R Technology program prepares students to install and service heating, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment in residential and commercial settings. Students have the option of completing an associate in applied science degree or a one-year certificate. Northern Maine Community College has a plumbing and heating program that offers students the opportunity to sit for several of the Maine journeyman exams and national certification exams in propane, natural gas, and refrigerant handling.

Another option is the MEMA (Maine Energy Marketers Association) Technical Education Center in Brunswick. MTEC is owned and operated by over 300 Maine and New England member companies that help to design educational programs, donate equipment, and hire graduates from the school they themselves fund. There is an HVAC-R program, an AC and Refrigeration certification program, an Oil Burner Technician Training program, and a Propane & Natural Gas Training program.

The Northeast Technical Institute HVAC/R program is seven months long and costs roughly $20,000. They have campuses in Auburn, Bangor, and Scarborough.

You might be lucky enough to get one of the coveted apprentice spots with the United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, & Service Techs Local 716 based out of Augusta. The apprenticeship program is five years long and meets all requirements of the state and is completely free to students. The cost is covered by the union contractors who pay into the trust, and students are placed with one of those contractors to work. As part of these apprenticeships, you will also complete the state-mandated Skills Assessment Verification of CETP certification.

This is important! For the Propane and Natural Gas Technician license in the state of Maine, you must have the Skills Assessment verified by an authorized entity. The Skills Assessment is a hands-on evaluation in which the employees demonstrate they can perform the required tasks addressed in the CETP program. The candidate completes the skills assessment with a registered skills evaluator, and both sign an affidavit verifying the evaluation. The skills assessment is then submitted to Industrial Training Services, the sole testing vendor for the National Propane and Gas Association. It must be submitted within 12 months of passing the exam. It is important to meet this deadline to qualify for certification. Not all contractors and schools have that authority. Be sure the institution you are considering attending has the ability to complete the skills assessment, because you only have 12 months to complete it before your CETP expires. Your employer can’t just verify; they must be authorized to do so.

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

You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists. 

Program Prerequisites: In most cases 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. 

Maine HVAC-Related Licensing Exam Details

Since Maine does not have a specific HVAC license, the exams are broken into specific categories based on the refrigeration and heating systems with which you want to work. All examinations are administered by Prov testing services. Once you are eligible to take the examination(s), you will need to apply for examination through the state website.  Each will cost $65 to $90. The exact amount for each exam is listed in the  Candidate Information Bulletin.

To prepare, you’ll want to start with a current copy of that bulletin and use the examination content outlines as the basis of your study. Read/study materials that cover all the topics in the content outline and take practice tests. Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory, and it is also an excellent business practice. Also, discuss new terms or concepts as frequently as you can with colleagues. This will test your understanding and reinforce ideas. Your studies will be most effective if you study frequently, for periods of about 45 to 60 minutes. Concentration tends to wander when you study for longer periods of time.

On the day of testing, you must bring two forms of identification that bear your signature, and one must also have your photograph. Your name as shown on the application form must exactly match the name on the photo I.D. used at the testing site.

Each of the exams is described in detail in the bulletin, including the number of questions and the time limit to complete it as well as which reference materials you may use and what items are not allowed in the testing centers. There are five locations in Maine: Auburn, Bangor, Calais, Portland and Presque Isle.

The HVAC-related exams have different numbers of questions and time limits depending upon the scope of the material covered. All of the Fuel Technician examinations are closed book. The Oil Burner or Solid Fuel Technicians licenses have four different categories and therefore different exams.

  • #1 and #2 fuel oils up to 15 gallon per hour flow rate

  • #1 and #2 fuel oils over 15 gallon per hour flow rate

  • #4, #5, and #6 oils

  • Solid Fuel

If you want to be licensed in more than one category, you will have to take the exam for each.

All of the HVAC related exams require a 70% to pass. You will get your score immediately, and it will be sent to the state of Maine as well so you can be issued your license.

EPA Certification

Everywhere throughout the country, including Maine, 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 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

Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Maine?

The Office of Professional and Occupational Regulation in Maine issues all professional licenses, including for HVAC professionals, plumbers, and electricians.

Does My Maine HVAC Related (Oil Burner and/or Solid Fuel Technician) License Work in Any Other State?

No, the state of Maine does not have reciprocal agreements with any other states for any of the licenses related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

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

Maine does not currently have any continuing education requirements for any of its HVAC-related licenses.

Renewal

All licenses expire two years from the date of issuance. You can renew online. The fee for renewal varies depending on the license.  

Resources 

You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways:

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