Pennsylvania HVAC License: How to Become an Electrician in Pennsylvania
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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 in the home services and construction industry.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 376,800 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and almost 15,000 work in Pennsylvania. The BLS predicts employment to grow 4% by 2029 nationwide, adding more than 15,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. That growth rate is expected to be even higher in Pennsylvania — projected at 9%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website.
Licensing requirements for HVAC workers and technicians vary widely from state to state and, in Pennsylvania, from locality to locality. Read on to learn more about becoming an HVAC tech in the Keystone State.
License Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Pennsylvania
Is a state license required to perform HVAC work in Pennsylvania? No, Pennsylvania doesn’t mandate licenses for apprentices, technicians or HVAC contractors at the state level.
However, some local municipalities, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, require local HVAC licenses or HVAC certifications to work on HVAC systems.
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.
Philadelphia HVAC License Types and Requirements
The City of Philadelphia Business Services Department is responsible for issuing HVAC licenses. HVAC candidates can pursue four types of HVAC licenses, and each come with different requirements and experience.
Sheet Metal Apprentice License: This license permits an individual to install, maintain, and service sheet metal systems used in HVAC systems. The apprentice must register for an apprenticeship program and serve under the supervision of a registered sheet metal technician.
Apprentices can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building. There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $20, which applies toward the $75 license fee due upon application approval.
Sheet metal apprentices must complete 8,000 hours of documented practical experience in the installation, maintenance, and other servicing of sheet metal systems, and at least 800 hours of classroom, shop, or related instruction in the installation, maintenance, and other servicing of sheet metal systems.
Sheet metal apprentices must renew their licenses every three years for a fee of $75.
Sheet Metal Systems Technician: Philadelphia requires a sheet metal technician license to install, maintain, and service sheet metal systems used in HVAC systems.
To be eligible, candidates must pass the Sheet Metal Technician examination, administered by the International Code Council, within one year of submitting the license application, and successfully complete a registered apprenticeship program.
There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $20, which applies toward the $150 license fee due upon application approval. Sheet metal techs must renew their licenses every three years for a fee of $150.
Candidates can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building.
Engineer License: Philadelphia requires an engineer license for any tech who maintains steam or high temperature hot water boilers, steam engines, portable or stationary hoisting engines, or refrigeration machinery.
Philadelphia offers two classes of engineer licenses that apply to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning professionals.
Engineer Grade A license: For steam boiler, stationary, refrigeration engineers, and fireman
Engineer Grade B license: For refrigeration only
To obtain an engineer license, candidates must pass an examination administered by the International Code Council (ICC) for their engineer grade within one year of filing the application, and also complete two years of experience as an assistant engineer or helper.
There’s a non-refundable application filing fee of $20, which applies toward the $50 license fee due upon application approval. Licensees must renew their licenses every year for a fee of $50.
Candidates can apply online via eCLIPSE or in person at the Philadelphia Municipal Services Building.
Home Improvement Contractor License: While there is no contractor license specific to HVAC, Philadelphia requires businesses that perform home improvement work on one- or two-family dwellings (excluding electricians and plumbers) to obtain a home improvement contractor license.
Licensing requirements include:
Register with the Office of the Attorney General
Establish a Business Income and Receipts Tax ID (BIRT)
Apply for a Commercial Activity License
Provide a certificate of insurance that includes:
General Liability Insurance: $500,000 per occurrence
Automobile Liability Insurance: $300,000
Worker’s Compensation Insurance:
$100,000 per accident
$100,000 per employee
$500,000 policy limit
Pittsburgh HVAC License Types and Requirements
HVAC Contractor License
The City of Pittsburgh requires an HVAC contractor license, issued by the Pittsburgh Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections, to install, erect, enlarge, repair, alter, remove, convert, or replace any mechanical system within the City of Pittsburgh. However, any work that doesn’t need a permit doesn’t require a licensed contractor, including:
Portable heating appliances, portable ventilation appliances, portable evaporative coolers, and portable cooling units
Steam or hot- or chilled-water piping within any heating or cooling equipment
Replacement of any minor part that does not alter approval of equipment or make such equipment unsafe
Self-contained refrigeration systems containing 10 pounds or less of refrigerant
Portable-fuel-cell appliances that are not connected to a fixed piping system and are not interconnected to a power grid.
To obtain HVAC contractor licensing, candidates need to:
Take and submit proof of passing the City of Pittsburgh proctored Master Mechanical exam, administered by Pearson Vue.
Provide documentation showing four years or more of practical work experience, accompanied by a statement verification from an employer or licensed mechanical contractor.
Pittsburgh HVAC contractor licenses mandate annual renewal, which requires completing eight hours of continuing education over the previous 12 months.
EPA Certification for Pennsylvania and Beyond
Across the U.S., including Pennsylvania, federal-level 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 Technical 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.
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How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License in Pennsylvania?
Since Pennsylvania favors local licensing by jurisdiction, there’s no statewide uniformity on license types, such as a journeyman license, or how long it takes to complete training. In general, however, many training programs and apprenticeships, including Philadelphia's sheet metal apprentice license, require 8,000 hours of practical experience (four years) and 800 hours of coursework.
What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Professional in Pennsylvania?
The annual mean salary for HVAC mechanics and installers in Pennsylvania is $54,740 ($26.32 per hour), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And according to Indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Pennsylvania increase with experience and training.
HVAC Installer: The average base salary for an HVAC installer in Pennsylvania is $65,937.
HVAC Technician: The average base salary for an HVAC technician in Pennsylvania is $49,737.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC supervisor in Pennsylvania is $70,738.
Salary ranges can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and real-world experience.
Pennsylvania HVAC Training Programs and Trade Schools
There are two main organizations that accredit HVAC programs, schools, and apprenticeships nationwide: HVAC Excellence and the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA).
HVAC Excellence’s accredited programs include:
PAHRA’s accredited programs include:
Pennsylvania HVAC Apprenticeship Programs
Air Conditioning Contractors Western Pennsylvania (ACCWPA) provides a four-year apprenticeship program that combines 3,200 hours of classroom and lab training with 8,000 hours of on-the-job training.
Additionally, multiple employers across the Keystone State offer official apprenticeship programs. Click here for a full list of HVAC apprenticeship programs.
Does My Pennsylvania HVAC License Work in Any Other States?
No. Because Pennsylvania’s licensing board doesn’t oversee HVAC contractor registration, the state doesn’t allow reciprocity agreements with nearby states, such as New York, North Carolina, or Ohio. The state issues HVAC licenses (if needed) at the local level.
Additional Resources for Pennsylvania HVAC Techs
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways: