Mississippi HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Mississippi
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There have been major technological advancements in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration systems, and they are ever-evolving. Learning this trade can lead to long-term job security in Mississippi.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 380,400 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers nationwide and 2,430 of them work in Mississippi. That number nationwide is expected to grow 5% from 2020 to 2030 — adding 19,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. And, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, contractors are hiring. In the 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. had unfilled hourly craft positions.
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A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. As more of an emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant with new codes and regulations. Licensing requirements for HVAC technicians and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality. Mississippi has statewide licensing for projects that exceed certain monetary thresholds and local licensing for less costly projects.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Mississippi
Is a license required for HVAC contractors and technicians in Mississippi? Yes and no.
The state of Mississippi does not license HVAC contractors who work on projects valuing less than $10,000. That falls to the local jurisdictions. The state does require a commercial license for HVAC, electrical, or plumbing work that is $10,000 or more. In addition, anyone who handles refrigerant must have an EPA certification no matter what the monetary value of the project. More on that later.
The Mississippi State Board of Contractors (MSBOC) issues both residential and commercial contractor licensing. A commercial license is required for commercial work over $50,000. Residential building over $50,000 requires a Residential Builder license from MSBOC. For smaller projects, you don’t need a license at the state level. You also don’t need a license if you do electrical, plumbing, or HVAC work valuing less than $10,000. However, many local jurisdictions — cities, towns, and counties— in Mississippi require you to get a local license. Be sure to find out what the local laws are before you bid on a project and begin work. For instance, the city of Gulfport issues a Mechanical/HVAC Contractor license through its Building Code Services office, and so does the Building Depart of Ocean Springs. Many cities and counties do not have any license requirements.
That means if you want to get started in the HVAC field in Mississippi you just need to meet employer expectations, local licensing requirements, and eventually have certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to legally be permitted to handle refrigerants. If you want the freedom to work on larger residential or commercial projects, you’ll need your state-issued license.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Mississippi
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Mississippi?
Mississippi does not license HVAC technicians or residential HVAC contractors but does require a Mechanical Contractor License or HVAC Contractor License for bigger commercial jobs. The state breaks commercial licenses into major and specialty classifications.
The Major Classification for commercial HVAC work is:
There are 16 specialty classifications that fall under that Major License. Among them are:
Heat, A/C, Ventilation (HVAC)
Boiler Installation and Repair
Ductwork for Heating, A/C and Ventilation
If you plan to perform commercial work in several of these specialties, it makes sense to pursue the broader Mechanical Contractor license. If your focus is more specialized, you may only want to get a license in the specific specialties that apply. The financial obligations are substantially different as are the scopes of the examinations you must pass. For the major classification of Mechanical Contractor, you’ll need to demonstrate that you have a net worth of at least $50,000. For the specialty licenses, that number is $20,000. The mechanical contractor examination is more rigorous as well, requiring knowledge of more subject areas.
Steps to Becoming an HVAC Professional in Mississippi
Typically you must be at least 18 years of age and have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent to meet employer requirements, although some employers will hire entry level workers as young as 16 years old.
You must get the proper training. Either attend community or technical college (usually two years) or trade school (usually six to nine months) to prepare for certification exams and be a good candidate for hire; or
Be accepted into a union or trade association apprentice program; or
Find entry-level work with an HVAC company and get on-the-job training. Most employers will place you with a technician who is licensed in the local jurisdiction to learn from on the job and require classroom instruction two nights per week to prepare to take certification exams.
You will need to get EPA Section 608 Certification by passing the exam.
You can earn additional certifications to improve your marketability and pay.
If you want to be able to work on bigger commercial or residential projects valued at $10,000 or more, you need a license from MSCOB.
If you’re applying as a corporation or LLC, you must be registered with the Mississippi Secretary of State and provide proof of good standing.
Furnish a Mississippi sales tax number or a Mississippi use tax number and a Mississippi Income Tax I.D. Number or Federal Income Tax I.D. number.
You must obtain general liability insurance with a minimum of $300,000 coverage for each incident and $600,000 in total.
You must provide a certificate of insurance showing current workers’ compensation coverage if you have five or more employees.
You must provide three reference letters. One must be from the bank; the other two can be from anyone you’ve worked with or for on construction-related projects.
You must show experience in the classification(s) of work requested. List at least three jobs completed in the requested classification.
You must provide a reviewed or audited financial statement prepared and signed by a certified public accountant completed within the last 12 months. Applicants for a major classification must demonstrate a net worth of at least $50,000. All other applicants must demonstrate a net worth of at least $20,000.
Pay the application fee of $400, which includes one classification and add $100 for each additional classification requested.
Apply for your commercial contractor license by submitting a completed and notarized application and, once approved, take and pass the exam.
Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Professional in Mississippi
There are many benefits to getting into the HVAC field in Mississippi:
You will earn as you learn with a guarantee of pay increases as you develop new skills.
Though there is no state-issued license for HVAC in Mississippi for jobs of less than $10,000, the certifications and local licenses you earn are proof of your knowledge, experience, and expertise.
You will receive industry-recognized credentials that can go with you anywhere.
Being a skilled tradesman gives you a competitive advantage in the job market and job security.
You will be embarking on a career, not just doing a job.
You can eventually own your own business and be your own boss.
What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Technician in Mississippi?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $54,690 and Mississippi’s annual mean wage as $42,690. The salary for an HVAC Technician increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $22.36 per hour in Mississippi and $6,250 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $25.53 per hour in Mississippi and $6,469 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $26.07 per hour in Mississippi and $8,925 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $65,541 per year in Mississippi and $9,375 overtime per year.
Salary 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.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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How to Become an HVAC Professional in Mississippi
EMPLOYER EXPECTATIONS: Because there is no statewide licensing for HVAC technicians in Mississippi, there is no state-mandated minimum age to get started on your HVAC career path. However, most employers seem to expect job candidates to be at least 18 years old and have earned either a high school diploma or GED and often prefer some post-secondary education in the field.
DRIVER’S LICENSE: A valid driver’s license is a must. A clean driving record is important for a job in HVAC because you’ll be driving to the customers. Many job listings in the HVAC field specify no major or frequent traffic violations or DUI in the previous five years and require a drug test.
EDUCATION/WORK EXPERIENCE: Either attend community college and earn an Associate Degree in Applied Science or complete a shorter certificate program at a technical college to get the foundational knowledge you need to get started. 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. Alternatively, you can opt for on-the-job training to prepare for the EPA and other certifications. You would need to become an Apprentice/Entry Level worker for an HVAC company to begin learning on the job and complete the requisite classroom instruction your employer prefers. Certification tests are rigorous and thorough, so some kind of formal education at a college or trade school may be a more helpful first step in your training to be an HVAC technician. The other way to get the training you need is through a formal apprenticeship, which is sometimes referred to as “The Other Four-Year Degree,” because it’s like college for the trades. The United Association Union of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders & Service Techs operates in three Mississippi locations, including Local 568 in Gulfport, Local 436 in Pascagoula, and Local 619 in Vicksburg. Apprenticeships through UA nationally are highly competitive programs that typically last about five years. Apprentices get on-the-job training and must attend classes too.
GET CERTIFIED/LICENSED: As part of your training on any of those paths, you will need to prepare for and pass the EPA Section 608 certification exam to be allowed to work with refrigerants of any kind. Details on the EPA certification are below. You can also acquire other certifications from professional HVAC organizations to demonstrate your value as an employee and justify higher pay. If you want the freedom to work on industrial, commercial, or larger home projects of more than $10,000 you will need a commercial license in either the major classification of Mechanical Contractor or in one of the HVAC-related specialty licenses from the licensing board. There is a helpful video on the state website explaining “How to Apply for a Contractor’s License.” It offers detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to apply. There’s also a Frequently Asked Questions page that may help.
The Commercial Contractor Application must be filled out exactly as described. For instance, do not leave any questions blank, even if you don’t think they apply to you. You must write N/A where not applicable. The application forms can be found at this link.
You will need to submit the completed, notarized application, fee, and required documentation to:
P.O. Box 320279
Jackson, MS 39232-0279
The required documents you’ll need are:
Corporation or LLC registration with the Mississippi Secretary of State and proof of being in good standing
A Mississippi sales tax number or a Mississippi use tax number and a Mississippi Income Tax I.D. Number or Federal Income Tax I.D. number
General liability insurance with a minimum of $300,000 coverage for each incident and $600,000 in total
Certificate of insurance showing current workers’ compensation insurance coverage if five or more employees
Three reference letters — one from the bank; two from anyone you’ve worked with on construction-related projects
Proof of experience in the classification(s) of work requested — list at least three jobs completed in the requested classification
Reviewed or audited financial statement prepared and signed by a certified public accountant completed within the last 12 months — major classification requires net worth of at least $50,000; all others at least $20,000
You will need to pay the fee of $400, which includes one classification and add $100 for each additional classification requested. If you apply for additional classifications at a separate time, this is the form you use.
EXAMINATION: All applicants are required to take a Law and Business Management exam, and all HVAC and Plumbing licenses also require a trade exam. Exams are administered by PSI testing services. The MSBOC will notify PSI of your eligibility after receiving your completed application and PSI will email you a confirmation notice. The Candidate Information Bulletin explains how to schedule the exam. Once you pass, your license will be approved and will be mailed to you.
How Much Does It Cost to Become an HVAC Technician in Mississippi?
How you get started will determine your upfront costs. The cost associated with the training to be an HVAC technician or contractor varies widely. If you start as an entry-level employee, you can earn while you learn and have no up-front costs, but you will likely make a lower wage. However, HVAC, plumbing and electrical companies are looking for people interested in learning those skills and often are willing to pay for your schooling. You could also choose to enroll in an apprenticeship program where again you will be earning a percentage of a journeyman wage while you train. Or you can attend classes at a community or technical college to prepare for eventual licensing, which of course means paying tuition. The cost to take the EPA Section 608 Certification Examination, which is required under federal law for anyone handling refrigerants, can be as low as $20 for the Type I exam and upwards of $150 for the Universal Exam. If you start with a program, that may be included.
There are also application and testing fees. The application fee for a commercial contractor is $400 and for a residential contractor it’s $50. Holding a major classification entitles the commercial license holder to perform the specialty classifications noted beneath each major classification category. Applicants who do not want a major classification may choose an unlimited number of specialty classifications. One selection is included with the application fee, but each additional selection requires an additional $100 fee. Each portion of the exam costs $120, so both the trade and law and business exam will cost $240.
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How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC Technician or Contractor in Mississippi?
It will take about two years of schooling/work experience to learn what you need to know for the EPA Section 608 Certification Exam. However, you can be working as a technician under a seasoned professional—and earning money—the whole time. Just be sure to get whatever local license you need to do so legally. Full training through an apprenticeship takes about four to five years. There are no specific education or experience requirements for licensure in the state of Mississippi. The longer you work in the business, the more skilled and valued you will become as an employee and the more earning potential you will enjoy.
Mississippi HVAC Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Mississippi, and they are located all over the state. The US Department of Labor’s careeronestop.org website lists 1,000 training programs for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Engineering Technology Technicians in Mississippi. Click the Career One Stop link to see which are located near you.
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).
There is one program in Mississippi that is accredited by HVAC Excellence.
Delta Technical College in Horn Lakes, MS
PAHRA has also accredited one program.
Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, MS
In addition to these two programs accredited by these organizations, there are many HVAC post-secondary educational options to choose from in Mississippi. Hinds Community College in Raymond, MS, offers a career certificate, a technical certificate, and an associate of applied science degree in HVAC/R technology. The career certificate is 30 credits and takes two semesters to complete. The Technical Certificate is 45 credits, so about three semesters. The AAS degree is made up of 60 credits and takes two years. Tuition is $1,770 per semester for full-time in-state students.
Copiah-Lincoln Community College offers both a technical certificate and an associate of applied science in Heating and Air Conditioning Technology. Tuition is $1,500 for full-time in-state students. According to the school website, upon completion of the technical certificate or Associate of Applied Science Degree, students will be prepared to complete the following nationally recognized industry certifications.
NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) Core Curriculum
NCCER Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning, and Refrigeration Technology Level 1 & 2
Environmental Protection Agency 608 Universal Certification
The accredited program at Delta Technical College is 35 weeks (nine months) long and both prepares you for and requires you to take and pass the Core Type I and Type II EPA certification exams. The program tuition is $14,580; with books and fees, the total cost is $15,800, as explained on page 80 of the catalog.
Here are three great lists to the best HVAC schools in Mississippi:
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Apprenticeship: The alternative to a formal education program is to look for an apprenticeship. The Mississippi Apprenticeship Program 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. The Building Trades Alliance is another place you can learn more about apprenticeships in Alabama and Mississippi. There’s also the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation (MCEF) — a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote careers, recruit capable individuals, and train a quality workforce for the construction industry in Mississippi. A coalition of construction associations formed MCEF in 1996 and the organization offers National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) accredited training programs in high schools, community colleges and industry including approved Department of Labor (DOL) registered HVAC apprenticeships. Or you can simply look for an entry-level position on Indeed or Zip Recruiter or another job board. As stated earlier, many employers hiring entry-level HVAC technicians follow an apprentice model — pairing new employees with others who are licensed in the local jurisdiction to begin hands-on training while requiring the beginner to attend HVAC classes. Employers will often pay for the instruction if you maintain a certain grade point average.
There are also apprenticeships offered through unions or local trade associations.
Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some up-front costs of tuition and book fees but the apprentice will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage rate and will receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements. The cost of tuition at a vocational school or college depends on the program you choose but can range from $3,000 at a community college to $40,000 at a state or private school for an associate degree or bachelor degree in engineering.
Program Prerequisites: You must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or a GED for many formal apprenticeships of college programs.
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.
Mississippi HVAC Licensing Exam Details
Both the trade and Law and Business examinations are administered by PSI testing services. To prepare, PSI suggests that you start with a current copy of the Candidate Information Bulletin and use the examination content outline 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.
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 center in Jackson.
The Law and Business Management Exam has 50 questions and a two-hour time limit. It covers:
Estimating and Bidding
Environmental and Safety
The HVAC exam is made up of 80 questions, and you are given four hours to complete them. The following subject areas are covered:
Hangers and Supports
Sound, Vibration and Seismic Control
Heating and Cooling Principles
Refrigerants and Refrigeration
Testing, Adjusting and Balancing
A/C and Heat Pump Equipment
Furnaces and Heaters
Chimneys, Flues and Vents
Fuel Gas Systems
LP Gas Systems
Boilers and Hydronics
The Mechanical Contractor exam is made up of 100 questions and you are given four hours to complete them. The following subject areas are covered:
Boilers and Hydronics
Plumbing Fixtures and Equipment
Piping, valves, controls
Sheet Metal and Ducts
Hangers and Supports
Drain, Waste, and Vent
Traps and Interceptors
Joints and Connections
General Plumbing Regulations
Refrigerants and Refrigeration
Heating and Cooling Principles
Testing, Adjusting and Balancing
The exams are open book, and a 70% score is required to pass.
Everywhere throughout the country, including Mississippi, 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 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)
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Mississippi?
There are no licenses issued at the state level for HVAC contractors or technicians who work on projects valuing less than $10,000 in Mississippi. For those less costly jobs, licensing falls to the local jurisdictions. However, the Mississippi State Board of Contractors (MSBOC) issues commercial licenses for HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors for jobs of $10,000 or more.
Does My Mississippi HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Every state has different licensing requirements. Some will have minimum work-experience thresholds, and many will require that you document that experience and pass an exam before becoming a licensed contractor. Mississippi's reciprocity agreements apply to waiver of the trade exam requirement only. It does not waive any of the other state license application requirements or review by the Board. The State of Mississippi has a reciprocal agreement with the Alabama Board of Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors. If you have held a license there for one year, the Board will waive the trade exam only. You will still be required to take the Mississippi business and law exam.
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.
At this time Mississippi does not require continuing education to renew an HVAC or Mechanical license. You must renew your license annually and may do so online or by mail. There’s a short video explaining all the details of renewal on the MSBOC website. The cost to renew is $400.
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