Oklahoma HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Oklahoma
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There is no shortcut when it comes to learning a trade. It takes time, hard work, and perseverance. HVAC/R, also known as mechanical, work requires a knowledge of plumbing, electrical, ductwork, refrigerants, and more, but once you learn the trade, you will have a career with job security.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and Oklahoma employs 4,280 of them. Employment is projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029 throughout the country, adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. According to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, the growth rate is expected to be much higher in Oklahoma — projected at 10%.
That statistic is supported by how many contractors are trying to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVAC technicians. According to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 60% of firms in the U.S. and 67% of firms in Oklahoma had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. So, if you get the training you need, you will have a lot of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.
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A large part of what HVAC contractors and technicians do is replace and repair existing systems. And, as more of an emphasis is placed on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to comply with these new standards. Licensing requirements for HVAC contractors vary from state to state and in some cases, from locality to locality. In Oklahoma, licensing is uniform statewide, but in some parts of the state, you may have to pay to be registered locally as well.
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors in Oklahoma
Is a license required to work as an HVAC professional in Oklahoma? Yes.
To legally perform heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work in the state of Oklahoma, you must be licensed or registered as an apprentice working under someone who is a licensed contractor. Mechanical Journeyman and Mechanical Contractor licenses are issued through the Oklahoma Constructions Industries Board.
Some of Oklahoma’s cities still retain the authority to require state-licensed tradesmen to register with their own governing agencies, so you always want to check with the jurisdiction where you intend to work to make sure you’re following any local requirements. In Oklahoma City, for example, Mechanical contractors must pay a fee to register their state licenses with the city so they can practice there.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Oklahoma
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Oklahoma?
According to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board website, its mission is to protect life and property by licensing and inspection of the related trades for the health, safety, and welfare of the public. This includes the Mechanical Industry.
The state requires apprentices to be registered and issues two main types of state-level licenses with a few sub-classifications.
Apprentices and Journeymen must work for an active, licensed Mechanical Contractor.
Both the Mechanical Journeyman and Mechanical Contractor's license have two options — Limited or Unlimited. A limited license entitles the licensee to install, alter, modify, service, maintain, or repair: any cooling product, system, or equipment including the process piping, that has a cooling capacity of no more than 25 tons and/or all heating equipment including the process piping that have a heat input of no more than 500,000 Btu/h per appliance; and sheet metal, natural gas piping, and refrigeration. An unlimited license allows you to work on any heating or cooling unit without regard to capacity.
There’s also one other subclass of the Journeyman license. It is the Limited Residential Journeyman License that allows you to install complete new systems in new construction for detached one- or two-family dwellings and multiple single-family dwellings (townhouses) not more than three stories in height with a separate means of egress — meaning no apartment buildings. This license also limits the power of the units you can work on to cooling systems of 5-tons or less and 150,000 Btu/h or less for heating systems and related accessories such as humidifiers, filtering systems, kitchen vent hoods, exhaust fans, and clothes dryer vent exhausts.
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Oklahoma
You must be at least 14 years of age to register as an apprentice.
Work for an active, licensed Mechanical Contractor who will provide direct on-the-job supervision, and apply for an Apprentice Registration card to document your work hours officially. You need three years of experience to qualify to test for your Journeyman license. Some formal mechanical education may substitute for partial experience requirements. You must renew your registration every year.
Apply for your Mechanical Journeyman License through Oklahoma CIB including an affidavit of citizenship and pay a $75 application fee.
Applicants for a journeyman license must be at least 18 years of age.
Once your application is approved and you are eligible for examination, contact the third-party testing agency to schedule your exam.
Successfully pass all parts of the exam and receive the Journeyman license.
Work for an additional year as a licensed Journeyman.
Apply for your Mechanical Contractor License through Oklahoma CIB including an affidavit of citizenship and pay a $330 fee.
Applicants for a contractor license must be 19 years of age and meet the same requirements as a journeyman with an additional one year of experience in the mechanical trade.
Successfully pass all parts of the exam, show proof of a $5,000 Corporate Surety Bond payable to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board and have a minimum of $50,000 commercial general liability insurance, then receive the Mechanical Contractor license.
Take six-hour of continuing education classes and renew your license every three years. The Contractor renewal fee is $200. The Journeyman renewal fee is $75.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Oklahoma
There are many benefits you’ll see from getting your Oklahoma Mechanical license:
Most importantly, it is required by law in Oklahoma to be licensed through the state to perform heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration work.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed Mechanical 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.
A license gives you a competitive advantage in the job market.
It also increases your earning potential.
What Is the Median Salary for an HVAC Professional in Oklahoma?
The annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers in Oklahoma is $47,670, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Oklahoma increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Installer: The average salary for an HVAC installer is $21.29 per hour in Oklahoma and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average salary for an HVAC Technician is $21.34 per hour in Oklahoma and $6,375 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average salary for an HVAC Mechanic is $25.59 per hour in Oklahoma and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $71,950 per year in Oklahoma and $11,250 overtime per year.
Salary can vary widely depending on the city where you work and other factors like education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Mechanical License in Oklahoma?
It can cost absolutely nothing to get started in the HVAC field in Oklahoma. If you begin as an HVAC helper— an entry-level apprentice position— with an HVAC company, you just need to work for a licensed contractor and register with the state and keep track of your work hours. Your employer will need to verify those hours each year to satisfy the work experience requirement to test for your Journeyman license.
If you want to attend a vocational school or technical or community college for a certificate program or Associate of Applied Science degree, that’s another great way to get started. You will have that expense of schooling upfront, but employers often state a preference for job candidates with some knowledge of the field.
If you decide to go after an apprenticeship, you may encounter some fees but, usually, your employer covers the cost. You’ll also be paid a portion of a journeyman level wage and that salary will increase as you learn.
The cost to register as an apprentice with any of these paths is $25 made payable to the CIB. The Oklahoma Mechanical Contractor application license fee is $330 and the Journeyman application is $75. The cost to take the PSI test for any of the limited or unlimited licenses is $100.
How to Get an HVAC License in Oklahoma
Because HVAC systems are becoming increasingly complex, most aspiring HVAC professionals opt to get some post-secondary education. Alternately, you could begin with an apprenticeship that will combine hands-on training with classroom instruction and usually takes four to five years. The bottom line is that you need to learn and begin gaining the necessary work experience required for licensure.
REGISTER AS AN APPRENTICE: No matter whether you take an entry-level job or enroll in a formal apprenticeship, you need to be at least 14 years old and register with the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board using this application. Included in the application is an affidavit verifying your lawful presence in the United States. You’ll also need to pay a $25 fee. You must renew your apprentice registration every year.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Oklahoma requires anyone applying for the Journeyman License to be 18 years of age and demonstrate three years of experience working in the classification for which they want to test. There are a few ways to satisfy that requirement.
Three years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade in the category for which the applicant is applying, or
An associate's degree or vocational diploma certifying completion of an educational program consisting of 1,000 hours or more from a school, approved by the Committee, (a list of approved schools can be found under testing information on the CIB website) which exhibits knowledge of the trade in the category of license applied for and one year of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, or
A vocational diploma certifying completion of an educational program consisting of 500 or more hours from a school, approved by the Committee, which exhibits knowledge of the trade in the category of license applied for and two years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, or
A vocational diploma certifying completion of an educational program consisting of a minimum of 375 or more hours from a school, approved by the Committee, which exhibits knowledge of the trade and in the category of license applied for, and 2 1/4 years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, or
A vocational diploma certifying completion of an educational program consisting of a minimum of 334 or more hours from a school, approved by the Committee, which exhibits knowledge of the trade and in the category of license applied for, and 2 1/3 years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, or
A vocational diploma certifying completion of an educational program consisting of a minimum of 250 or more hours from a school, approved by the Committee, which exhibits knowledge of the trade and in the category of license applied for, and 2 1/2 years of verifiable experience in the mechanical trade, or
Equivalent, verifiable experience in the mechanical trade while serving in the U.S. military.
You must also sign an affidavit verifying your lawful presence in the United States. You can apply using this form and pay the $75 fee. The mailing address is:
Oklahoma Construction Industries Board 2401 NW 23rd, Suite 2F Oklahoma City, OK 73107
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: Once your application is approved and you are eligible for examination, you will be provided the contact information of the third-party testing vendor who you will contact to set the date, time, and location of the examination. More on that is listed below under exam details. If you pass, you will receive your journeyman license.
WORK EXPERIENCE: Oklahoma requires anyone applying for the Contractor License to be 19 years of age and meet the same requirements as a journeyman with an additional one year of experience in the mechanical trade. You must also sign an affidavit verifying your lawful presence in the United States. You can apply using this form and pay the $330 fee. For the Contractor license, you are also required to carry a $5,000 Corporate Surety Bond payable to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board and have a minimum of $50,000 commercial general liability insurance.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: Once your license application is approved and you are eligible for examination, you will be provided the contact information of the third-party testing vendor who you will contact to set the date, time, and location of the examination. You will need to take both a business and law exam and trade exam. There are financial requirements, too. If you pass your exam and show proof of a $5,000 Corporate Surety Bond payable to the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board and have a minimum of $50,000 commercial general liability insurance., you will receive your contractor license.
DISPLAY OF LICENSE: All Vehicles must display the firm name and the license number bearing the initials “OK” preceding that number. Signs and license numbers shall be printed in letters and numerals at least 2 inches high in conspicuous places on both sides of each vehicle in contrasting color. Contractors must display this number on all advertising, contracts, and bids.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Mechanical License in Oklahoma?
It will take a minimum of three years to qualify to take the Mechanical Journeyman license exam in Oklahoma, but you will have most likely spent some time taking classes first or an apprenticeship will take four to five years. As an apprentice, you will be earning a wage as you learn what you need to pass the state licensing exam. Likewise, if you take classes first as part of a certificate program or earn an Associate degree, you’ll still need to acquire the required three years of experience and you’ll be getting paid while you do.
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Oklahoma HVAC Training Programs and Schools
There are many programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Oklahoma, and they are located all over the state.
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).
Each of those organizations has accredited schools in Oklahoma.
HVAC Excellence has accredited one.
Red River Technology Center in Duncan, OK
PARAH has accredited nine.
Autry Technology Center in Enid
Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center in Choctaw
Indian Capital Technology Center in Muskogee
Indian Capital Technology Center in Sallisaw
Indian Capital Technology Center in Tahlequah
Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater
Moore Norman Technology Center in Norman
Southern Oklahoma Technology Center in Ardmore
Tulsa Technology Center in Tulsa
HVACClasses.org breaks down the credit hour requirements and tuition costs for some of the programs listed above.
Here are two lists of the best HVAC schools in Oklahoma:
Niche: 2021 Best Colleges with HVAC and Refrigeration Engineering Technician Degrees in Oklahoma
Tuition: The Cost of Tuition depends on the program you choose. Certificate programs can cost less than $1,000 and associate degrees from community colleges can cost several thousand. Apprenticeships can run from $500 to $2,000 or more and often are completely employer sponsored. There are many jobs listed for HVAC apprentices on zip recruiter and indeed. Many employers will sponsor employees in an apprentice training program that typically lasts four to five years. Or you can look for formal apprenticeships through union and non-union organizations. Local 344 serves Oklahoma City. Local 430 and Local 798 are in Tulsa. In Oklahoma, though, all you need is to be registered as an apprentice with the Construction Industries Board and work for a licensed Mechanical Contractor who can attest to your hours of work.
Oklahoma’s Department of Labor maintains a website of Apprenticeship Programs 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.
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.
Oklahoma HVAC Licensing Exam Details
The examinations are administered by PSI testing services. The Candidate Information Bulletin (CIB) provides you with information about the examination and application process. Every exam costs $100 and is to be paid directly to PSI.
The CIB suggests you prepare by doing the following:
Start with a current copy of this 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.
Take notes on what you study. Putting information in writing helps you commit it to memory, and it is also an excellent business practice. 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 exam is broken down by content, number of questions, and time allowed:
Mechanical Business and Law: 50 questions, 120 minutes
Bidding and estimating
Project Management and Supervision
Labor and Personnel
Payroll and Payroll Taxes
HVACR Contractor Limited: 80 questions, 210 minutes
HVACR Contractor Unlimited: 90 questions, 240 minutes
HVACR Journeyman Limited: 60 questions, 180 minutes
HVACR Journeyman Unlimited: 70 questions, 180 minutes
Each trade exam covers:
Electrical Knowledge and Controls
Air Distribution Systems
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems
Exams are administered in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, McAlester, Woodward, and Lawton. To pass the exam, you need at least a 70%.
Who Issues Mechanical Licenses in Oklahoma?
Mechanical Journeyman and Contractor licenses are issued through the Oklahoma Department of Health, Construction Industries Board. Be sure to check with local governments where you intend to work to make sure you meet any additional licensing or permitting requirements.
Does My Oklahoma Mechanical Journeyman or Contractor License Work in Any Other State?
Oklahoma does not have any specific reciprocity agreements with any other states; however, if you can demonstrate three years of work experience, you can apply to test for the appropriate license.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Oklahoma, 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, 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.
Take 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.
Core Exam: 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.
You must complete six hours of continuing education every 36 months through an approved provider. Renew your license every three years using this application. The Contractor renewal fee is $200. The Journeyman renewal fee is $75.
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