Nebraska HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Nebraska
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Most states require training and licensure before you can legally design, install, repair, and maintain heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. As today’s HVAC technology becomes increasingly complex, and we place more emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, HVACR systems need retrofitting, upgrading, or replacement to remain compliant.
Learning this essential trade takes years, but once you complete the necessary training, your skills will be in high demand to work alongside general contractors, plumbers, electricians, and other tradespeople in the home services and construction industry.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are 394,100 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and 3,040 work in Nebraska. The BLS predicts employment to grow 5% from2021 to 2031 nationwide, and that growth rate is expected to be double that in Nebraska — projected at 10%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website. 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 82% of firms in Nebraska had unfilled hourly craft positions.
Licensing requirements for HVAC technicians vary widely from state to state and, in Nebraska, from locality to locality. Read on to learn more about becoming an HVAC tech and contractor license requirements in the Cornhusker State.
License Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Nebraska
Is a state license required to perform HVAC work in Nebraska? No, Nebraska doesn’t mandate licenses for HVAC apprentices, HVAC technicians, or HVAC contractors at the state level.
However, some municipalities, including Omaha and Lincoln, require local HVAC licenses or HVAC certifications to work on HVAC systems.
Note: Nebraska requires all state contractors, regardless of trade, to register with the Nebraska Department of Labor and submit a certificate of workers' compensation insurance.
It’s also important to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under section 608 of the Clean Air Act, requires any technician who maintains, services, repairs, or disposes of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere to earn a Section 608 technician certification. HVAC apprentices don’t need to hold a certification as long as “they are closely and continually supervised by a certified technician,” according to the EPA.
Omaha HVAC License Types and Requirements
The City of Omaha Planning Department Air Conditioning/Air Distribution (ACAD) board oversees local licensing. Candidates can pursue an ACAD apprentice license, a commercial ACAD or sheet metal journeyman license, and a residential sheet metal journeyman’s license.
Additionally, Omaha offers two HVAC contractor licenses from the City's Mechanical Contractors board: ACAD master commercial and ACAD master residential contractor licenses.
All apprentices need to register with the ACAD board, and must provide proof that they’re employed by a licensed master ACAD contractor.
Omaha ACAD Apprentice Program
An apprenticeship program is the first step to starting a career in the HVAC industry. Candidates typically need a high school diploma or GED, photo ID, and a valid driver’s license to be eligible. Candidates can join an apprenticeship program offered by a local company or trade union, or gain experience from a community college.
To start the process, apprentices need to submit the apprentice application, list the sponsoring licensed master ACAD contractor or trade union, and pay a $25 application fee.
Apprentices need to demonstrate four years of work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed master ACAD contractor to become eligible to apply for a journeyman license.
Omaha Journeyman License
The City of Omaha issues two classes of journeyman licenses.
A commercial ACAD or sheet metal journeyman’s license permits the holder to install all types of air conditioning and air distribution (excluding hydronics) systems.
A residential sheet metal journeyman’s license permits the holder to install air conditioning and air distribution (excluding hydronics) systems in one- and two-family dwellings only.
After successfully completing apprentice training, journeyman candidates need to submit the journeyman license application to the ACAD board and pay a $25 application fee. Once the board approves the application, journeyman candidates will receive an invitation to take the journeyman licensing exam through Prometric. Applicants must score at least 75% to pass.
To keep licenses valid, journeyman license holders need to complete eight hours of continuing education each year.
Click here to view the full journeyman license requirements.
Omaha ACAD Contractor License
The City of Omaha issues two classes of contractor licenses.
An ACAD master commercial contractor license permits the licensed individual to install all types of air conditioning or air distribution systems, excluding hydronic systems.
The ACAD master residential contractor license permits the licensed individual to install all types of air conditioning or air distribution systems, excluding hydronic systems, but only in one- and two-family homes.
After demonstrating eight years of experience installing ACAD systems, or four years of work experience as a licensed journeyman, candidates need to submit the contractor license application to the ACAD board and pay a $25 application fee. Once the board approves the application, contractor candidates will receive an invitation to take the contractor exam through Prometric. Applicants must score at least 75% to pass.
After passing the exam, candidates must provide the City of Omaha with a surety bond in the amount of $10,000 and proof of liability insurance in the amount of $300,000.
Click here to view the full contractor license requirements.
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Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Lincoln, Nebraska?
The City of Lincoln Department of Building and Safety is responsible for issuing HVAC licenses in Lincoln. Candidates can pursue an apprentice license, journeyman mechanical technician license, or a master mechanical contractor license.
Lincoln HVAC Apprentice License
To get started, candidates need to register their apprenticeship with the City of Lincoln. Apprentices need to demonstrate three years of work experience to become eligible to move on to the journeyman level. There is no required fee to register as an apprentice.
Lincoln Journeyman Mechanical Technician License
After completing the required apprentice training, candidates can apply to take the journeyman licensing exam via VisualVault. Candidates need to pay a $15 registration fee, as well as a $100 examination fee. The exam covers the Lincoln Fuel Gas Code and the Lincoln Gas Piping Code, and International Code Council.
Lincoln Master Mechanical Contractor License
This license permits the licensee to own an HVAC business and train up to three apprentices. After working as a licensed journeyman for at least one year, candidates become eligible to register to take the contractor exam via VisualVault. Contractors need to pay a $150 registration fee, as well as a $350 examination fee. The exam covers the Lincoln Fuel Gas Code and the Lincoln Gas Piping Code, and International Code Council.
Additionally, master mechanical contractors need to hold minimum liability insurance coverage of $500,000 and complete at least eight hours of continuing education each year.
EPA Certification Required in Nebraska and Beyond
Across the U.S., including in Nebraska, federal EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act require certification for technicians who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere. Any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing air-conditioning systems needs to hold the certification.
In most cases, your employer will require you to obtain the certification as part of your training program.
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.
For all certifications, you must pass 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. The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) certification and other professional certifications can add to your marketability and increase your opportunity to make more money.
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License in Nebraska?
The length of required training in Nebraska varies by the type of license and municipality, but it typically takes three to four years of apprentice training to become a journeyman, and an additional one to four years to become a contractor.
What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Professional in Nebraska?
The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Nebraska is $50,790 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And, according to ZipRecruiter.com and Salary.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Nebraska increase with experience and training.
HVAC apprentice: Average salary
HVAC Journeyman: Average Salary
HVAC Contractor: Average Salary
Salaries can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, such as education, certifications, additional skills, and real-world experience.
What Business Owners Need to Know
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Location-specific service history, including recorded calls, accessible from the mobile app.
Required forms that ensure every job is done right, driving consistency.
The ability to build multi-option proposals with photos, on-site, in minutes.
Sales presentations that make conversations with customers easier and drive average ticket.
Mobile payment acceptance, eliminating lost checks and increasing cash flow.
To learn more, schedule a demo with a product expert today.
Nebraska HVAC Training Programs and Trade Schools
Nebraska offers a wide variety of training opportunities across the state, including trade schools and community colleges that offer HVAC programs.
Some of the top training schools include:
HVACRedu - Online
Does My Nebraska HVAC License Work in Any Other States?
No, Nebraska doesn't offer state-level reciprocal agreements with other states, even nearby states including Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho or Texas. However, some cities do allow reciprocity, so make sure to check reciprocal agreements at the local level
Additional Resources for Nebraska HVAC Techs
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways: