Missouri HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Missouri
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Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration work involves some plumbing, some electrical, sheet metal/duct work and more. Making sure that professionals doing this work are skilled and knowledgeable usually involves some government oversight.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that there are over 394,100 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers in the United States and 6,600 work in Missouri. That number nationwide is expected to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031 — adding more than 20,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Missouri, that growth is expected to be even higher. The U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, CareerOneStop, projects the growth rate in Missouri 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. and 57% of firms in Missouri had unfilled hourly craft positions.
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Air conditioning, refrigeration and heating systems in our homes and businesses wear out and break down, so there is always a need for tradespeople who know how to fix them or install new systems. As the push for energy efficiency and reducing pollution grows stronger, there’s also a need for mechanical systems 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 Missouri, from locality to locality.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Missouri
Is a license required for HVAC Professionals in Missouri? Not at the state level, but in most cities or counties, there are local contractors license requirements.
The state of Missouri does not license HVAC professionals or plumbers at the state level as they do electricians through the Missouri Division of Professional Registration. Instead, city and county governments are responsible for oversight. By state statute, candidates for journeyman and master plumber certification must take an exam to work in a city with a population of 15,000 or more. (Missouri Revised Statutes 341.010 and 341.020)
Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri are the most populous cities in the state. Each has strict licensing requirements for HVAC technicians and Mechanical Contractors. Both require HVAC workers in those jurisdictions to be certified. The Kansas City Department of Planning & Development and the St. Louis County Department of Public Works issue certificates of qualification at the journey and master level and license contractors. In St. Louis, the categories for journeyman licensing are broken into areas of specialization commonly practiced by HVAC professionals like:
Steps to Becoming an HVAC Technician in Missouri
You must be at least 18 years of age to meet employer/apprenticeship requirements.
You need to have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
You must get the proper training. There are two paths:
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.
Enroll in an apprenticeship program either through a union or trade organization or as an entry-level worker through a sponsoring employer.
You will need to get EPA Section 608 Certification by passing the exam before you are permitted to handle refrigerants.
You should check local licensing requirements for the area where you will be working. There is no statewide licensing process for HVAC technicians, so it’s all about meeting municipal regulations for all HVAC-related trades like gas fitter, warm air ventilation, etc.
You can earn additional certifications to improve your marketability and pay.
If you wish to own your own business in the HVAC field in Missouri after you’ve accumulated significant experience and are a licensed contractor at the local level, you’ll need a state-issued business license, workers’ compensation insurance, unemployment insurance and either a cash deposit or surety bond. Check with your municipality for further requirements.
Benefits of Becoming an HVAC Technician in Missouri
There are many benefits to getting into the HVAC field in Missouri:
You will earn as you learn with a guarantee of pay increases as you develop new skills.
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 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 Missouri?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Missouri as $52,920. The salary for an HVAC Technician increases, as you might expect, as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $24.29 per hour in Missouri and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $24.91 per hour in Missouri and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $24.81 per hour in Missouri.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base wage for an HVAC Supervisor is $76,307 per year in Missouri.
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.
What Business Owners Need to Know
Getting the most out of an HVAC technician, no matter where they are in their licensing journey, takes work. ServiceTitan’s cloud-based, all-in-one HVAC software gives technicians and business owners the technology they need to do the work efficiently, and the data they need to do it smartly.
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How to Become an HVAC Professional in Missouri
To enter the HVAC field in Missouri, you need to learn and gain work experience. Missouri has common HVAC license requirements at the municipal level and to satisfy employer expectations. Most often you’ll need to acquire some combination of classroom training and hands-on work experience. In St. Louis, for example, you can complete a four-year apprenticeship, which would combine 7,500 hours of documented on-the-job experience and related classroom education or demonstrate a minimum of 7,500 hours of documented work experience before taking the county-mandated exam. Kansas City requires you to be at least 21 years old and have a high school diploma or GED, have three years of experience and pass an examination to be given for the City of Kansas City, Missouri, by Prometric or the International Code Council (ICC) before you can apply for a Certificate of Qualification.
There is no state-mandated minimum age to get started on this career path. Through Missouri’s Career and Technical Education, some high schools offer vocational programs for juniors and seniors, combining the trade education with high school curriculum. The Franklin Technology Center in Joplin is just one example. Students completing the HVAC program may earn two industry certifications including EPA 608 and OSHA 10. They will also test for the HVAC Excellence certificate. All of these are at no cost to the student.
If you don’t get started in high school, most employers seem to expect job candidates to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and some post-secondary training in the field.
EDUCATION: One path you can take to become a journeyman HVAC professional in Missouri is to attend community or technical college to learn what you need to earn the required certifications. For instance, the Missouri Community College System has HVAC/R programs at campuses throughout the state that prepare students for HVAC technician work, commercial refrigeration, fuel gas piping, sheet metal and duct work, welding, and more. At Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, you’ll find a 61- to 63-credit hour Associate of Applied Science degree in HVAC and Refrigeration as well as a 39- to 41- credit hour Advanced Certificate, a 23-credit hour Certificate, and a 40-credit hour Energy Efficiency Certificate. More information on other educational and training programs is explained below.
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. Missouri has eight UA local chapters that offer plumbing, pipefitting, HVAC and welding apprenticeships. UA Local 178 based in Springfield offers apprenticeships for plumbers, pipefitters, service technicians, welders and HVAC/R service. Apprentices are mentored on the job by journeymen and go to school to learn trade-specific subjects. It amounts to five years of training with each year consisting of a minimum of 1,700 hours of on the job training and a minimum of 224 hours of classroom instruction. UA Local 562, serving the St. Louis area, requires five years of training, with each year consisting of up to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 216 hours of classroom instruction.
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 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 Missouri’s Office of Apprenticeship, 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.
APPLY FOR EXAMINATION/LICENSE: Once you’ve completed the license requirements in terms of the amount of training and education for your locality, you may apply for examination for licensure. In St. Louis, for example, you’ll need to provide all of the documentation listed on this application, pay a $45 fee, and submit the application in person to the St. Louis County Department of Public Works Central office in Clayton at 41 South Central Ave., 6th floor. Again, you’ll need to check with your specific local licensing agency for the requirements in the area where you intend to work before you are eligible to sit for the journeyman exam.
CONSIDER BECOMING AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR: If you wish to own your own business in the HVAC field in Missouri after you’ve accumulated significant experience and local licensing and certifications, you’ll need a state-issued business license from Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, workers’ compensation insurance, liability insurance and unemployment insurance. You may also be required by your municipality to post a cash deposit prior to seeking licensing like in Kansas City.
How Much Does It Cost to Become an HVAC Technician in Missouri?
How you get started will determine your upfront costs. If you start by getting some kind of college degree or certificate you’ll have tuition expenses. You can expect to pay $189 per credit hour for in-state tuition at State Technical College of Missouri, abbreviated locally as State Tech. At Ozarks Technical Community College in Springfield, HVAC in-state students can expect to pay about $120 per credit hour, so for the 63-credit AAS that would be about $7,500. The cost to take the EPA Section 608 Certification Examination 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 will also likely be a license fee from your locality and fees associated with taking certification exams. In Kansas City, for example, the license application fee is $60, and the fee for trade licenses is $181 for every four-year period.
How Long Does it Take to Become an HVAC Tech in Missouri?
The education and experience requirements for licensing varies from one municipality to another. It will take about four years of schooling/work experience to complete most apprenticeships. It takes about two years to earn an associate degree. Typically you are sufficiently prepared for the EPA Section 608 Certification examination after about two years of either schooling or working under a licensed professional. 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.
Missouri HVAC Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Missouri, and they are located all over the state, in major cities and smaller communities. There are also many more options for online training. The US Department of Labor’s careeronestop.org website lists 1,924 training programs for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Engineering Technology Technicians in Missouri.
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).
PAHRAH has accredited one school in Missouri:
State Technical College in Linn
HVAC Excellence has accredited four schools in Missouri:
Hillyard Vocational Technical School in St. Joseph
Jefferson College in Hillsboro
Ozark Technical Community College in Springfield
State Technical College in Linn
The program accredited by both HVAC Excellence and PAHRA at State Tech in Linn is an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, & Air Conditioning Technology.
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit-hour requirements for several programs in Missouri including two of those above.
Here are three great lists of the best HVAC schools in Missouri:
You’ll see that many of the same colleges or programs appear on all these lists.
Apprenticeship: As mentioned earlier, the alternative to a college education program is to look for an apprenticeship. There are several formal apprenticeship opportunities to get the training you need in Missouri. Several are through local United Association unions like Local 8 out of Kansas City.
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. You can simply look for an entry-level position on Indeed or Zip Recruiter or another job board and work for a licensed contractor. Employers will often pay for the instruction if you maintain a certain grade point average, or will reimburse you after a certain amount of time on the job.
Tuition: Apprenticeships usually have some up-front costs for books or tools, but the apprentice will be paid a percentage of the journeyman wage and could receive periodic wage increases as they meet program requirements. The cost of tuition at a vocational school or college can range from $2,000 to $3,000 for an online program or 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.
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.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Missouri, 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 Missouri?
There are no licenses issued at the state level for HVAC contractors/technicians in Missouri. However, there are many municipalities that have licensing requirements. The Kansas City Department of Planning & Development and the St. Louis County Department of Public Works issue licenses for those areas. Each city or county throughout the state has slightly different licensing requirements and application processes. Be sure to check with local governments to know what is required in the area you intend to work.
Does My Missouri HVAC Experience Allow Me to 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 a licensing exam. Be sure to check those mandates before beginning work as an HVAC professional in another state, even if you’ve been doing HVAC work in Missouri. Your EPA Certification and other Certifications may not be enough to legally perform HVAC work in another state. However, if you’ve completed a registered apprenticeship through the U.S. Department of Labor, your credentials transfer from state to state. You may still need to take an examination and apply for a license in your new home state, so always check first. Local governments within the state of Missouri may reciprocate with one another, so again check before getting started.
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.
Although Missouri does not require continuing education at the state level for HVAC, some municipalities do. St. Louis requires 24 hours of Continuing Education Units within the three-year licensing period. You’ll want to check in the area where you will be practicing to be sure to keep your license current. Also, you will want to stay informed about emerging technology in the HVAC industry. There are many ways to keep yourself current in regard to the technology used in HVAC systems and appliances. Distributors want you to know about their company’s latest offerings and will often hold training sessions about new and changing equipment and parts.
HVAC manufacturers offer training, too, including online. For example, according to HVACSchool.org, Carrier has something they call Carrier University, an elaborate training system that includes classroom and online courses and symposiums and seminars covering all aspects of the HVACR industry and all of the people involved in it.
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways:
Read about the latest industry trends.
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