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Licensing Guides

South Dakota HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in South Dakota

category-iconHVAC, SD

Table of Contents
  1. License Requirements for HVAC Professionals in South Dakota

  2. City of Sioux Falls HVAC License Types and Requirements

  3. Rapid City HVAC License Types and Requirements

  4. EPA Certification for South Dakota and Beyond

  5. National HVAC Certifications

  6. How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License in South Dakota?

  7. How Much Does It Cost to Become an HVAC Technician in South Dakota?

  8. What Is the Mean Salary for an HVAC Professional in South Dakota?

  9. South Dakota HVAC Training Programs and Trade Schools

  10. South Dakota HVAC Apprenticeship Programs

  11. Does My South Dakota HVAC License Work in Any Other States?

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 remain 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 380,400 heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers nationwide, and 1,260 work in South Dakota. The BLS predicts HVACR employment to grow 5% by 2030 nationwide, adding 19,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. That growth rate is expected to be even higher in South Dakota — projected at 12%, according to CareerOneStop, the U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website.  Contractors are struggling to find skilled tradesmen like plumbers, electricians, and HVACR professionals. In fact, 60% of firms in the United States and a whopping 81% in South Dakota had unfilled hourly craft positions, according to the Associated General Contractors of America, 2020 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey. So, if you get the training you need you should have a variety of jobs to choose from when you’re ready.

Licensing requirements for HVAC workers and technicians vary widely from state to state and, in South Dakota, from locality to locality. Read on to learn more about becoming an HVAC contractor or tech in South Dakota.

License Requirements for HVAC Professionals in South Dakota

South Dakota doesn’t mandate state licenses for HVAC apprentices, HVAC technicians, or HVAC contractors. However, some municipalities, including Sioux Falls and Rapid City, require local HVAC contractors licenses or specialty contractor licenses for certain types of HVAC work, similar to Class A or Class B general contractor or residential building contractor licenses. It's important to check with the appropriate municipality for complete licensing and regulation requirements.

If you're starting your own HVAC business, you'll also need to register your business with the South Dakota Secretary of State and obtain the proper business licenses.

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.

City of Sioux Falls HVAC License Types and Requirements

The City of Sioux Falls Building Services issues contractor licensing relating to mechanical and refrigeration work within city limits. The two licenses include a mechanical contractor license for mechanical and HVAC work, and a refrigeration contractor license for refrigeration and coolant work. The city also offers an inactive license for those who plan to reinstate their expired license without retesting.

Examination and licensing rules are the same for both licenses, and are explained in more detail below:

Mechanical contractor or refrigeration contractor licenses: To obtain either of these licenses, a contractor must pass a mechanical examination before applying for the license. Exam applications and testing information may be downloaded online.

When applying for the exam, the applicant must show evidence of four years of experience as a sheet metal mechanic, refrigeration technician, general manager, project manager, or engineer employed by a licensed mechanical contractor. In addition, the applicant must have spent at least 2,000 hours per year working as a sheet metal mechanic, refrigeration technician, general manager, or engineer.

The Mechanical Board of Appeals and Examiners offers experience credit for graduates who take certain programs or courses at accredited trade schools, colleges, or universities, or those who performed mechanical, construction management, or engineering work in the military.

The exam application fee is $75. Those who pass the test must apply for their mechanical contractor or refrigeration contractor license within 90 days. 

Licensing requirements include:

  • $10,000 surety bond

  • $200 license fee ($100 if applying in the second year)

Licenses must be renewed every two years, and licenses remain active by providing current bond information. Once a license expires, it can't be renewed after 12 months without retesting.

Inactive master mechanic license: Those who have passed the mechanical examination may apply for an inactive master mechanic license, which doesn't allow them to work as a mechanical contractor, but allows them to hold a current license to avoid future retesting upon reinstatement of the mechanical contractor license. The license fee is $20, and processing takes about two weeks.

Rapid City HVAC License Types and Requirements

The City of Rapid City Building Services Division issues mechanical and gas contractor licenses for contractors, apprentices, journeymen/installers, or gas fitters. Before applying for a new license, contractor and journeyman applicants must pass an exam and pay initial fees.

Exam requirements include:

Mechanical contractors: Two years verifiable mechanical trade experience at the journeyman level.

Mechanical journeymen (installers): Four years verifiable mechanical trade experience.

Gas contractors: Three years verifiable experience in the fuel gas trade.

Licensing requirements include:

  • Contractor license application

  • Licensee information

  • Copy of state license, if applicable

  • Copy of excise tax certificate

  • Certificate of general liability insurance

  • $1 million general aggregate liability

  • $300,000 fire damage

  • $1 million each occurence

  • Workers’ compensation insurance certificate, or signed workers’ compensation statement

  • Pass exam, if applicable

  • License fee

  • Mechanical apprentice: $25 

  • Mechanical installer: $40

  • Mechanical contractor: $205

  • Gas fitting apprentice: $10

  • Gas fitter: $25

  • Gas Fitting contractor: $200 

Licenses last three years. Expired licenses require renewal within a one-year grace period, or license holders must reapply for a new license, retest (if an exam is needed for that license), and pay a new license fee.

Contractor license renewal requirements:

  • Contractor license renewal application

  • For mechanical license holders, six hours continuing education per license period

  • Certificate of liability insurance

  • Workers’ compensation insurance certificate, or signed workers’ compensation statement

  • License renewal fee

  • Mechanical apprentice: $25 

  • Mechanical installer: $40

  • Mechanical contractor: $80

  • Gas fitting apprentice: $10

  • Gas fitter: $25

  • Gas fitting contractor: $50

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EPA Certification for South Dakota and Beyond

Across the U.S., including South Dakota, 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. 

You must acquire your EPA Certification from an approved organization. There are four types of EPA certifications for refrigerant, including:

  1. Type I: for servicing small appliances containing five pounds of refrigerant or less.

  2. Type II: for servicing high-pressure units that contain five pounds or more of refrigerant (including most small commercial and residential systems).

  3. Type III: for servicing or disposing of low-pressure appliances.

  4. 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:

  • Ozone depletion

  • Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol

  • Section 608 regulations

  • Substitute refrigerants and oils

  • Refrigeration

  • The Three R’s (Recover, Recycle, Reclaim) 

  • Recovery techniques

  • Dehydration evacuation

  • Safety

  • Shipping

National HVAC Certifications

Other certifications can help show 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.

How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC License in South Dakota?

Since South Dakota favors local licensing by jurisdiction, there’s no statewide standard on license types or length of license processing time. When it comes to HVAC training, though, many training programs and apprenticeships offer 8,000 hours (about four years) of on-the-job training.

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. 

ServiceTitan features:

  • SMS communications that keep customers informed about the technician’s visit.

  • 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. 

How Much Does It Cost to Become an HVAC Technician in South Dakota? 

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. For instance, the HVAC/R Technology program at Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls is a 1-year diploma program that’s 35 credits. The cost for the program is $255/credit, so just under $9,000. There are two Heating & Cooling Technology programs offered through Mitchell Technical Institute. One is a 1-year diploma program made up of 34.5 credits and costs $8,194. The other is an Associate of Applied Science degree that is 75.5 credits and costs $17,792. Each has additional required costs. Laptop/software will cost $999. Books/tools for the diploma program are estimated at $2,679 and $3,009 for the AAS. 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, but if you start with a college program, that may be included. Since South Dakota does not require classroom training, you only need to meet employer expectations and some may be willing to train you strictly on the job. Licensing is at the municipal level, so the licensing costs vary. In both Sioux Falls and Rapid City after completing enough work experience you become eligible to take the required examination to earn your journeyman license. In Sioux Falls there is a $75 examination fee and a $200 license fee. In Rapid City there is a fee structure.

  • Mechanical Apprentice: $25

  • Mechanical Installer: $40

  • Mechanical Contractor: $205

  • Gas Fitting Apprentice: $10

  • Gas Fitter: $25

  • Gas Fitting Contractor: $200

The cost to renew your local license will vary, so be sure to check with the jurisdictions where you will be working.

What Is the Mean Wage for an HVAC Technician in South Dakota?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $54,690, and $48,400 for those in South Dakota. That salary, as you might expect, 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 South Dakota and $6,250 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Technician: The average wage for an HVAC Technician is $26.61 per hour in South Dakota and $6,500 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Mechanic: The average wage for an HVAC Mechanic is $27.11 per hour in South Dakota and $7,875 overtime per year.

  • HVAC Supervisor: The average base pay for an HVAC Supervisor is $69,354 per year in South Dakota and $9,375 overtime per year. 

Pay 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. 

South Dakota 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 has not accredited any schools in South Dakota. Other South Dakota schools also offer HVAC programs, but are accredited by different organizations.

South Dakota HVAC Apprenticeship Programs

Apprenticeship programs enable candidates to get paid while learning and gaining the work experience required for a journeyman or contractor license. If you're looking for an HVAC apprenticeship program in South Dakota, there are many opportunities available. 

  • South Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation provides a StartTodaySD website to locate apprentice programs.

  • South Dakota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors (SDAPHCC) offers an apprentice program providing four years on-the-job training in conjunction with studies and tests.

  • Sheet Metal Workers Local Union 10 offers pre-apprentice and apprenticeship programs. Applicants must meet certain qualifications.

  • National job-search websites show local HVAC employers offering apprenticeships.

Does My South Dakota HVAC License Work in Any Other States?

No. Because the state of South Dakota doesn’t use a licensing board to oversee HVAC contractor registration, the state doesn’t generally allow reciprocal agreements with other states. Instead, local cities issue licenses (if required) for the HVAC position.

Those with state electrician licenses may take advantage of reciprocal electrical license agreements, under certain conditions, with Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

Additional Resources for South Dakota HVAC Techs

You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news several ways:

Listen to top HVAC podcasts, such as ServiceTitan’s “Toolbox for the Trades” podcast

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