Oregon HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Oregon
Table of Contents
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Contractors and technicians are in demand. If you are looking for a career with tangible skills and job security, HVAC may be for you.
We all rely on climate control and refrigeration systems in our homes and businesses. Those systems break down and wear out, and now with more emphasis on energy efficiency and reducing pollution, systems need to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant.
» Want to grow your HVAC business? Click here to get a demo.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and Oregon employs 3,280 of them. Employment is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029 throughout the country, adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Oregon that growth rate is expected to be much higher — projected at 19% according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website,
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 59% of firms in Oregon had unfilled hourly craft positions on June 30, 2020. Contractors are eager to hire trained tradespeople.
The licensing requirements for HVAC workers and contractors vary from state to state and, in some cases, from locality to locality, but they all need proper training. That is required in Oregon too!
Licensing Requirements for HVAC Contractors and Technicians in Oregon
Is a license required to perform HVAC work in Oregon? Yes! Even apprentices must be registered by an employer with the state.
The Oregon Building Codes Division Office (BCD) issues non-contracting specialty electrical licenses for Limited Energy Technicians, while the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB) issues specialty contracting licenses for HVAC work.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Oregon
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Oregon?
There are two types of HVAC technician licenses and a contractor license in Oregon. Each has specific requirements that must be met before licensing.
Class A Limited Energy Technician
Completion of an approved apprenticeship in Oregon; OR
Official transcripts verifying 432 hours of required classroom training, and verification of 6,000 hours of on-the-job training broken into specific work categories; OR
Verification of 12,000 hours of work experience obtained outside of Oregon, broken into specific work categories. Requires trade-specific installation experience in protective signaling that includes fire alarm, nurse call, burglar alarm, and other systems that are part of a fire or life safety system.
Class B Limited Energy Technician
Completion of a board-approved apprenticeship program; OR
Provide verification of 4,000 hours of work experience equivalent to a board-approved apprenticeship program broken into specific work categories and completion of a board-approved 32-hour training program (may be taken after application is approved); OR
Verification of 8,000 hours of work experience broken into specific work categories.
Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor HVAC/R
Allows a company to maintain, service, repair or replace commercial and industrial electrical products that use fuel or other forms of energy to produce heat, power, refrigeration or air conditioning. The scope of limited energy installations allowed is limited to the signing supervisor’s license limitations.
The Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor HVAC/R must either employ a Class A or Class B Limited Energy Technician or have been one themselves.
Local ordinances and permitting vary throughout the state. All HVAC professionals should check with municipal authorities in the areas where they work to ensure they have met all local credentialing requirements.
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Oregon
Complete a board-approved HVAC apprenticeship program meeting all experience and classroom instruction requirements.
Apply to take a licensing exam and pay required fees.
Pass the exam and obtain your license.
Consider becoming an independent specialty contractor. Specialty electrical contractors own and operate their own businesses and can hire other licensed employees to work for them.
To obtain a CCB license, you must be at least 18 years old, complete no fewer than 16 hours of training on law and business practices, and pass the necessary exam. Potential electrical contractors must also provide the CCB with surety bonds and proof of general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.
How to Get an HVAC License in Oregon
GAIN THE NECESSARY EXPERIENCE: You begin your career in the HVAC field in Oregon with an apprenticeship. That can be a formal apprenticeship through a local union or trade organization or through a community or technical college apprenticeship program. If you complete an approved apprenticeship, you will satisfy the licensing experience requirement. The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries maintains a list of apprenticeship programs.
Alternatively, you can find an informal apprenticeship as an entry-level employee through a job board like Indeed or Zip Recruiter and work for a licensed contractor while gaining the minimum years of experience and related classroom training. A Class A applicant needs a minimum of 6,000 hours of lawfully obtained experience verified by an employer and a minimum of 432 hours of related classroom training. A Class B applicant needs a minimum of 4,000 hours of lawfully obtained experience verified by an employer and a minimum of 288 hours of class or related training. Because employers are often looking for candidates with experience or graduates of a trade school, you may find it difficult to secure a position without first getting some post-secondary education or all of the required classroom related training before getting hired.
BECOME A LIMITED ENERGY TECHNICIAN CLASS A OR B: Once you meet the necessary experience requirements, you are eligible to apply to test for your Limited Energy Technician Class A (LEA) or Class B (LEB) License. You must include an electrical experience verification form with the application. A checklist is available to assist with the application process.
Limited electricians can work only within the scope of their specialty areas, while general journeyman electricians can work in all areas under the supervision of a licensed electrical contractor or supervising electrician.
Limited and general journeyman electrician licenses must be renewed every three years and require continuing education credits.
CONSIDER BECOMING A LIMITED MAINTENANCE SPECIALTY CONTRACTOR HVAC/R (LHR): Contractors own and operate their own businesses and can hire other licensed employees to work for them. Contractor licenses are issued by the Oregon Construction Contractors Board (CCB). The CCB has detailed instructions on its website and also publishes a guide to becoming a licensed contractor that outlines all of the requirements.
To obtain a CCB license, you must be at least 18 years old, complete no fewer than 16 hours of training on law and business practices, and pass the necessary exam. Potential specialty electrical contractors like those applying to get an LHR must also provide the CCB with surety bonds and proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Business names must be registered with the Oregon Secretary of State.
Oregon offers several electrical contractor licenses, including those for residential contractors, commercial contractors, and dual contractors. Electrical contractor licenses must be renewed every three years.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Oregon
There are many benefits to getting your Oregon Technician or Contractor license:
Most important, it is required by law in Oregon to be licensed through the state to legally perform heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration work.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed 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.
The #1 newsletter for the trades.
What Is the Median Salary for an HVAC Technician in Oregon?
The salary for an HVAC Technician in Oregon increases as you acquire more experience, according to Indeed.com.
HVAC Installer: The average wage for an HVAC installer is $23.44 per hour in Oregon and $6,094 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $26.42 per hour in Oregon and $6,562 overtime per year.
HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $27.95 per hour in Oregon and $8,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $75,315 per year in Oregon and $11,250 overtime per year.
How Much Does It Cost to Get an HVAC License in Oregon?
Tuition at many Oregon community colleges costs $4,000 to $5,000 per year. Licensees must also pay fees to obtain their license after passing the necessary exam. License application fees vary by license type.
Limited Energy Technician Class A (LEA) - $50
Limited Energy Technician Class B (LEB) - $50
Limited Maintenance Specialty Contractor HVAC/R - $250
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Technician or Contractors License in Oregon?
It will take a minimum of two years to qualify to take the licensing exam for a Class B Limited Energy Technician license (LEB) in Oregon. A Class A license will take at least three years. However, a board approved apprentice program typically takes four years to complete.
Oregon HVAC Training programs and schools
There are many community colleges, trade schools, technical and vocational schools to provide the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Oregon.
Those schools include:
Portland Community College in Portland offers both a certificate program and an associate degree program to prepare you for a career in HVAC/R and other construction trades.
Lane Community College in Eugene offers the Construction Trades, General Apprenticeship program, which provides a structured system of training in construction trades or occupations, leading to certification and journey-level status, only for apprentices who are sponsored by individual employers, accepted by a Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee, and registered with the State of Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. The Apprenticeship Program for HVAC Technicians/Installers is four years long.
Clackamas Community College southeast of Portland has a Limited Energy Apprenticeship Program with admission through the Independent Electrical Contractors of Oregon Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).
Chemeketa Community College in Salem provides an HVAC/R registered apprenticeship program for the Mid-Valley HVAC/R Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee.
HVACClasses.org breaks down many of the different programs at the above schools.
Tuition: The cost of tuition depends on the program you choose but can range from $1,200 to $15,000 at a technical school or an associate’s degree at a community college.
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.
Oregon HVAC Specialty Licensing Exam Details
Once your application is approved, the Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) will mail a letter of authorization with exam instructions. Oregon offers testing locations throughout the state, and you'll receive your exam results in the mail within two weeks of taking the exam. You must score at least 75% to pass.
Licensing exams are open book, and applicants can use a variety of resource materials, including the National Electrical Code (NEC). Exam prep materials, study guides, and practice tests are available.
The CCB contractor exam contains 80 multiple-choice questions on business practices and law. The test is administered by PSI Services. Study guides are available, although the exam is open book. A passing score is at least 70%.
According to the CCB, the test is based on the Oregon version of the NASCLA Contractors Guide to Business, Law and Project Management.
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Oregon?
The Oregon Building Codes Division Office (BCD) issues non-contracting specialty electrical licenses for Limited Energy Technicians, while the Oregon Construction Contractors Board issues specialty contracting licenses for HVAC work.
Does My Oregon HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
No. Oregon has reciprocal licensing only for three specific plumbing and electrical licenses, but not for Limited Energy Technicians.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Oregon, 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.
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.
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.
Continuing Education/Renewal in Oregon
To keep your state-issued LEA or LEB license current, Oregon requires you to renew it before it expires every three years. You must complete approved continuing education before renewal. The amount of continuing education varies depending on the license.
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways:
Read about the latest industry trends