Maryland HVAC License: How to Become an HVACR Contractor in Maryland
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We all need skilled professionals to help us keep our homes and businesses comfortable using heating and air conditioning systems. And, HVACR professionals need comprehensive training to know how to install and repair the advanced technology used in today’s HVAC and refrigeration systems.
There are over 394,100 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and 7,480 work in Maryland. The national number is expected to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031 — adding more than 20,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Maryland that growth rate is expected to be more than twice that. The U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, CareerOneStop, projects the growth rate in Maryland to be 11% for HVAC mechanics and installers, and the Associated General Contractors of America, says contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. had unfilled hourly craft positions.
Climate control and refrigeration systems wear out and break down and need to be repaired. Also, with more emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant.
The licensing requirements for HVAC workers and contractors vary from state to state and in some cases from locality to locality. In Maryland, you’ll need a statewide license.
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Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Maryland
Is a license required to perform HVAC work in Maryland? Yes.
To be an HVAC Contractor in Maryland, you must be licensed. Even entry-level HVAC technicians need a license and must work under the supervision of a licensed contractor.
The Maryland Department of Labor — Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing oversees 21 licensing boards, commissions, and programs. Among them is The Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors, which issues every level of HVACR license. The licensing requirements are posted on its website.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Maryland
There are six types of licenses for HVACR contractors in Maryland.
Master: A master license entitles the licensee to provide installation and maintenance services in all of the areas of HVACR work.
Master Restricted: A master restricted license entitles the licensee to provide installation and maintenance work in one or more areas of HVACR work. The categories of HVACR work are air conditioning, full heating, forced air, heating, hydronic heating, refrigeration, and ventilation.
Limited Contractor: A limited contractor license entitles the licensee to exclusively maintain and repair one or more HVACR systems. Again, the categories of HVACR work are air conditioning, full heating, forced air heating, hydronic heating, refrigeration, and ventilation.
Journeyman: A journeyman license entitles the licensee to perform HVACR services while under the direction and control of a licensed contractor.
Journeyman Restricted: A journeyman restricted license entitles an individual to perform one or more specialized HVACR services while under the direction and control of a licensed contractor.
Apprentice: Anyone who is entering the trade of HVACR work must obtain an apprentice license and work under the direction and control of a licensed contractor as he/she trains to become a journeyman. There are no prerequisites for an apprentice license.
Steps to Get an HVACR Contractor License in Maryland
You must be at least 18 years of age.
You must have three years of work experience as an HVAC professional and licensed as an apprentice before applying for the journeyman license. The board may substitute HVAC-related educational training for experience provided that it is a board-approved program and educational transcripts are provided prior to board consideration; or
You must be currently licensed in another state with licensing laws substantially similar to those of the State of Maryland. Maryland has reciprocity agreements with Virginia and Delaware.
You must apply to the department on the forms issued by the board.
You must pass a board-approved examination if you do not hold a license from another state.
You must pay the appropriate exam and license fee.
Each applicant is required to report to the commission any conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor that is directly related to the fitness and qualifications to engage in home improvement services. The applicant must provide a "true-test copy" from the clerk's office of the court where the conviction occurred. In considering the denial, reprimand, renewal, suspension, or revocation of a license when an applicant or licensee is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor, the commission considers: the nature of the crime; the relationship of the crime to the activities authorized by the license; with respect to a felony, the relevance of the conviction to the fitness and qualification of the applicant or licensee to provide home improvement services; the length of time since the conviction; and the behavior and activities of the applicant or licensee before and after the conviction.
Each applicant for a home improvement contractor's license must meet the commission's financial solvency guidelines based upon the applicant's personal assets, not business assets. Any applicant who does not meet the financial solvency guidelines may purchase a surety bond or obtain an indemnitor.
You cannot become a master HVAC contractor in Maryland without also being a contractor, and carrying liability insurance coverage in the amount of $300,000 and property damage insurance in the amount of $100,000.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Maryland
There are many benefits to getting your Maryland HVACR license:
Most important, it is required by law in Maryland to be licensed through the state to legally perform A/C and refrigeration work.
It will make you a more attractive candidate to prospective employers.
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 Maryland?
The annual mean wage for Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers is $54,690 nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the Bureau reports Maryland’s annual mean wage for these workers is quite a bit higher at $63,420.
The salary for an HVAC Technician in Maryland increases as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $26.41 per hour in Maryland and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $28.61 per hour in Maryland and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $30.44 per hour in Maryland.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $84,306 per year in Maryland.
Salary can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC License in Maryland?
There are different fees associated with each license class in Maryland.
License Fee: $10
Renewal Fee: $10
License Fee: $20
Exam Fee: $150
License Fee: $20
Exam Fee: $50
License Fee: $75
Exam Fee: $150
License Fee: $25 per category, maximum $75
Exam Fee: $50
License Fee: $75
Exam Fee: $150
All licenses must be renewed every two years, which costs $20.
How to Get an HVAC License in Maryland
The first step in your HVACR career path in Maryland is to get your HVACR Apprentice License. You don’t need to be enrolled in an apprentice program to get your license, but you will need your license before you are allowed to start your training.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Before you can apply for your journeyman license, you must gain the necessary three years of experience. There are three ways to do that.
You can find and complete an apprenticeship program.
Earn a degree or certificate from an approved trade school.
Work under the supervision of a licensed HVACR Contractor; or some combination of #2 and #3.
The Maryland Apprentice and Training Program website lists approved programs. If you go this route, you can apply for an Original Journey or Journey Restricted License WITHOUT examination. This is for applicants who have successfully completed a program approved by the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council and have a Department of Labor Certificate of completion. You have two years from the date on your certificate to obtain your license.
The other two options require you to take a licensing exam before applying for your license. You can successfully complete an approved HVACR degree or certificate program in combination with job experience supervised by a licensed HVAC Contractor or accumulate three years of experience in the field in or out of state that the board deems acceptable. The board will accept up to three years of formal HVAC education, so you could technically meet the three-year requirement without any hands-on training, but this is very unusual.
APPLY TO TAKE EXAMINATION: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, you may apply to take the license exam. The MD Journeyworker exam is for the Unrestricted Journey License. It costs $150 and entitles the licensee to provide installation and maintenance services in all of the areas of HVACR work under the supervision of a master. Each of the Journeyman Restricted licenses (Air Conditioning, Forced Air, Hydronic, Refrigeration, and Ventilation) cost $50 and entitles an individual to perform one or more specialized HVACR services while under the direction and control of a licensed contractor.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The state of Maryland has contracted with PSI Testing Services to administer the exams. To be eligible to register for an examination, you have to satisfactorily complete the required work experience. PSI will review the application to determine that an applicant is eligible by meeting all license requirements. The Candidate Information Bulletin provides all the information about the tests, the requirements, and the process. Every test requires a minimum passing grade of 70%.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: You can apply for your license online through Maryland’s Department of Labor Electronic Licensing online platform. This is a link to the Original Journey/Journey Restricted License Application after you have successfully passed the exam or after you have successfully completed an HVACR-related apprenticeship in a program approved by the Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council.
ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE: If you choose to pursue any of the master licenses, you will need to accrue additional work experience. The state says to apply for the Unrestricted Master License you must have been licensed as a journeyman and regularly and principally employed to provide all areas of HVACR services for at least three years of active experience under the direction and control of an HVACR master, and worked a minimum of 1,875 hours in the year prior to applying for the master license. For any of the restricted licenses, you will need the same years and hours of active experience in the specialty area for which you are applying.
An applicant not meeting any of the above qualifications may also apply to take a Master Restricted examination. To be eligible, the applicant must document at least six years of qualifying HVACR experience.
APPLY TO TAKE EXAMINATION: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, you may apply to take the license exam. The Master HVACR Contractor exam is for the Unrestricted Master License. It costs $150 and entitles the licensee to provide installation and maintenance services in all of the areas of HVACR work. Each of the Master Restricted licenses (Air Conditioning, Forced Air, Hydronic, Refrigeration, and Ventilation) cost $50 and entitles an individual to perform installation and maintenance work in one or more areas of HVACR work.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The state of Maryland has contracted with PSI Testing Services to administer all of the exams including the Master level. Again, the Candidate Information Bulletin provides all the information about the tests, the requirements, and the process. Every test requires a minimum passing grade of 70%.
PSI can be reached at:
PSI Examination Services (PSI) 100 West Broadway, Suite 1100 Glendale, CA 91210-1202 1-800-733-9267
ACQUIRE APPROPRIATE INSURANCE: All master, master restricted, and limited contractor applicants who are responsible for signing or approving contracts to install or service HVACR systems are required to carry general liability and property damage insurance.
The following must appear on the insurance certificate:
Your name must appear on the certificate of insurance.
Your general liability insurance coverage must be at least $300,000.
Your property damage liability insurance coverage must be at least $100,000.
The combined amount of the general liability and property damage insurance must be at least $400,000.
The policy number and expiration date of the policy must appear on the certificate of insurance.
Note: The State Board of HVACR Contractors must be named as the insurance certificate holder.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: You can apply for your Master, Master Restricted, or Limited Contractor license online as well. This is a link to the HVACR – Original License Application that you would use after you have successfully passed the exam and met the other requirements.
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Maryland?
It will take a minimum of three years to qualify to take the journey-level licensing exam in Maryland and then an additional three years working as a journeyman to qualify for the master level. However, even if part of that time is dedicated to classes, you will likely be working and earning money the whole time.
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Maryland HVAC Training Programs and Schools
Because HVAC technology is becoming more and more complex, getting some kind of formal training can be very helpful and is generally preferred by employers.
In fact, most HVAC technicians nationwide 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). However, currently, there are no programs accredited by either organization in Maryland, possibly because the state encourages the apprentice route instead.
If you decide that you want formal education before joining the workforce, there are several schools that offer HVAC degrees. The Community College of Baltimore County offers an associate of applied science degree in HVAC as well as several certificate HVAC programs. You can also find HVAC programs at Montgomery College, Brightwood College, and other community colleges. If you want a bachelor’s degree in the HVAC field, the top universities in the state include the University of Maryland in Baltimore and Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. There are also many more options for online training like Fortis or Penn Foster.
Here are two great lists of the best HVAC schools in Maryland:
Niche: 2023 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Maryland
A certificate program can take a matter of months or you can get a two-year degree at a technical or community college or a four-year degree.
Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose. According to Education Cost Helper an HVAC certificate can cost as little as $1,200. Tuition for an associate’s degree can cost $15,000. A bachelor’s degree from a state university can cost about $40,000 and private universities, like Johns Hopkins, can be as much as $50,000 per year.
If you choose to forgo a more traditional college degree, a formal apprenticeship can give you the hands-on and classroom instruction you need. This is the route the Maryland Board encourages most. You can use the Maryland Apprenticeship Locator to find the one that’s right for you and is board approved.
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.
Maryland HVACR Licensing Exam Details
PSI Examination provides examination services for the Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. An application must be filed with PSI before an individual can take an examination for licensure as master, master restricted, limited contractor, journeyman, or journeyman restricted. PSI staff will review the application to determine for which examination the applicant qualifies.
Exam Questions and Time Limits:
Master HVACR Contractor Examination: 100 questions, 240 minutes
Master Restricted and Journeyman Restricted Air Conditioning: 50 questions, 120 Minutes
Master Restricted and Journeyman Restricted Forced Air: 50 questions, 120 Minutes
Master Restricted and Journeyman Restricted Hydronic: 50 questions, 120 Minutes
Master Restricted and Journeyman Restricted Refrigeration: 50 questions, 120 Minutes
Master Restricted and Journeyman Restricted Ventilation: 40 questions, 90 Minutes
Limited HVACR Contractor: 50 questions, 120 Minutes
HVACR Journeyman: 100 questions, 240 minutes
Fees: The Master exam, Limited Contractor exam and Journeyman exam are all $150. Each of the other exams is $50. Payment may be made by money order, company check, personal check, certified check, or cashier's check made payable to PSI. Cash is not accepted. Include your name and/or Social Security number on your money order or check to ensure that your fee is properly assigned.
Exam dates: Examinations are conducted by PSI on a daily basis in Baltimore, College Park, Hagerstown, Crofton, Lanham, and Salisbury.
The Candidate Information Bulletin provides all the information about the tests, the requirements, and the process. Every test requires a minimum passing grade of 70%.
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Maryland?
The Maryland Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors issues every level of HVACR license. The licensing requirements are posted on its website.
The mailing address for the Board is:
State Board Of HVACR Contractors 500 N. Calvert Street, Room 481 Baltimore, Maryland 21202-3651
Does My Maryland HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Yes, Maryland has reciprocity agreements with both Virginia and Delaware. You may apply for a reciprocal license if you are currently licensed in either of these neighboring states. Reciprocal licensing is permissible if the individual:
Meets the qualifications of Maryland's HVACR law;
Holds an active license in good standing in the other state;
Holds a license that is equivalent to the Maryland HVACR license; and
Became licensed in the other state after meeting that state's requirements for licensure, which must be at least equivalent to the licensing requirements of this state, including the number of years of work experience required by the Maryland law.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Certification: Everywhere throughout the country, including Maryland, 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. Many even make it part of the curriculum, or your employer/apprenticeship 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 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 Specific to Maryland
To keep your state-issued license current, Maryland requires you to renew it every two years. The renewal fee is $20.
There is no continuing education requirement for licensed HVAC Contractors in Maryland at this time.
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