HVAC License Texas: How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Texas
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Being an HVAC contractor isn’t just a job, it’s a solid career path. HVAC professionals have a wide range of employment opportunities and they are well compensated. There’s also job security—there will always be a need for skilled professionals to install and maintain heating and cooling systems in our homes and businesses. The systems that heat, ventilate, and air condition our homes and businesses are complex and continue to become even more technologically advanced. Learning how to design, install and repair them can lead to an essential job that will always be in demand.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that there are over 391,400 Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers nationwide and 31,060 work in Texas. The national number is expected to grow 5% from 2021 to 2031 — adding more than 20,000 of these skilled workers to the ranks. In Texas that growth rate is expected to be more than quadruple that. The U.S. Department of Labor’s job search website, CareerOneStop, projects the growth rate in Texas to be 21% for HVAC mechanics and installers, and the Associated General Contractors of America, says contractors are hiring. In the 2022 AGC-Autodesk Workforce Survey, 93% of firms in the U.S. and 93% of firms in Texas had unfilled hourly craft positions.
Heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems wear out and break down, so there is always a need for tradespeople who know how to fix them or install new systems. Also, as the push for energy efficiency and reducing pollution grows stronger, there’s a need for mechanical systems to be retrofitted, upgraded or replaced entirely to remain compliant.
The licensing requirements for HVAC workers and HVAC contractors vary from state to state and in some cases from locality to locality.
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Licensing Requirements for HVAC in Texas
Is a license required for HVAC Contractors in Texas? Yes.
To perform heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration work in the state of Texas, you must be a licensed contractor—or a registered or certified technician working under a licensed contractor.
Steps to Get an HVAC License in Texas
You must be at least 18 years of age
Register with the state as a technician working for a contractor
Get work experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor
Get certification (optional or additional work experience)
Apply for license
Take ACR contractor exam
How to Become an HVAC Professional in Texas
REGISTER WITH STATE: The Texas Dept. of Licensing & Regulation requires anyone working under a licensed contractor in Texas as an A/C and Refrigeration technician to register with the state by submitting an online application and pay a $20 registration fee.
GET CERTIFICATION: After working on a jobsite for 24 months under a licensed contractor's supervision, Texas HVAC techs can opt to become a Certified ACR Technician by completing a 2,000-hour certification program and paying a $50 application fee. Many institutions offer Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Certification Training Programs. However, individuals seeking to obtain a Certified Technician License this way should verify it is approved by TDLR before enrolling in a program.
OR COMPLETE ADDITIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE: Those individuals not interested in becoming a Certified ACR Technician must complete 48 months of jobsite experience under the supervision of a licensed contractor before applying for their own contractor’s license.
APPLY FOR LICENSE: Once you’ve fulfilled the work experience requirements, HVAC technicians may apply for a Texas ACR Contractor License. You must be at least 18 years old to apply.
TAKE LICENSING EXAM: The license class and endorsements you choose will determine the type of work you can perform, the licensing exam that you will take, and the insurance coverage that you must maintain.
PROVIDE PROOF OF INSURANCE: Must maintain commercial general liability insurance while your license is active, and submit a Certificate of Insurance once you pass the licensing exam. The minimum insurance coverage required is based on the license Class A or B.
*If applying for both Class A and Class B license, you will receive a single document with two license numbers. Both licenses must have the same business affiliation and addresses.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Texas
What are the different types of HVAC licenses in Texas?
There are two types of HVAC contractor licenses in Texas. A Class A contractor license allows you to work on any size unit. A Class B contractor license allows you to work on cooling systems of no more than 25 tons and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour or less.
Before being allowed to earn your contractor’s license, you must first be a registered technician working under a licensed contractor.
From there you can decide to become a Certified Technician. That’s a voluntary qualification that exceeds the standards of a Registered Technician.
Before applying for a technician certification, you must meet either the practical experience or training requirement. Applicants may become qualified for technician certification by completing a department-approved certification program consisting of 2,000 hours of combined instruction and practical experience.
ENDORSEMENTS: There are three endorsements available to add to an Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License. Each license may have only one endorsement.
1. Environmental Air Conditioning: Includes treating air to control temperature, humidity, cleanliness, ventilation, and circulation to meet human comfort requirements.
2. Commercial Refrigeration: Includes the use of mechanical or absorption equipment to control temperature or humidity to satisfy the intended use of a specific space. Limited to coolers, freezers, ice machines, and equipment that provides temperature and humidity controls.
3. Process Cooling or Heating: Includes controlling temperature, humidity, or cleanliness solely for production requirements or the proper operation of equipment. Limited to coolers, freezers, ice machines, and equipment that provides temperature and humidity controls.
Benefits of Getting an HVAC License in Texas
There are many benefits to getting your Texas HVAC license:
Most important, it is required by law in Texas to be registered, certified or licensed through the state to legally perform A/C and Refrigeration work.
A trade license is proof of your experience and skill.
Only licensed ACR 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 Wage for an HVAC Technician in Texas?
The salary for an HVAC Technician in Texas is on the low side compared to the national average, but the cost of living is also lower in many parts of the state. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean pay for HVAC mechanics and installers nationally as $54,690 and in Texas as $51,270. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries for HVAC professionals in Texas increase with experience and training and are as follows:
HVAC Mechanic: The average pay for an HVAC Mechanic is $27.26 per hour in Texas.
HVAC Installer: The average pay for an HVAC installer is $22.80 per hour in Texas and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Technician: The average pay for an HVAC Technician is $24.63 per hour in Texas and $6,750 overtime per year.
HVAC Supervisor: The average base salary for an HVAC Supervisor is $72,940 per year in Texas.
Pay can vary widely depending on the city and many other important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.
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.
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 Get an HVAC License in Texas?
The cost of an air conditioning and refrigeration license in Texas is $115.
Anyone working under a licensed contractor in Texas as an A/C and Refrigeration technician must register with the state by submitting an online application and pay a $20 fee.
After gaining 24 months of jobsite experience under a licensed contractor's supervision, Texas HVAC techs can opt to become a Certified ACR Technician by completing a department-approved 2,000-hour certification program and paying the $50 application fee.
How to Get an HVAC License in Texas
WORK EXPERIENCE: Work at least 48 months under a licensed ACR Contractor supervisor in the past 72 months, OR hold Texas ACR Technician Certification for past 12 months and with at least 36 months practical experience under licensed ACR Contractor supervision in the past 48 months
SUBMIT WORK EXPERIENCE DOCUMENTATION: Submit completed Experience Verification Form. Do not complete this form yourself. The experience verification form must be completed by the licensed air conditioning and refrigeration contractor who supervised your experience.
TAKE THE EXAM: After submitting your application and proof of qualifications, the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation will approve your eligibility to take the licensing exam.
PROOF OF INSURANCE: You must submit proof of insurance by providing a Certificate of Insurance verifying a commercial general liability policy.
CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK: You must pass a criminal history check by providing a Criminal History Questionnaire if you’ve ever been convicted or pleaded guilty to a criminal offense. All license applicants are subject to a criminal background check.
How Long Does it Take to Get an HVAC Contractors License in Texas?
It will take a minimum of four years to qualify to take your ACR Exam in Texas. However, you can be working as a registered technician under a licensed contractor — and earning money — the whole time.
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Texas HVAC Training Programs and Schools
As previously stated, most HVAC technicians hold some kind of post-secondary degree or certificate. 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). Currently, HVAC Excellence has accredited two programs in Texas, and PAHRA has accredited one.
HVAC Excellence Accredited Programs
PAHRA accredited programs
Vernon College in Wichita, TX
There are many other programs to get the training you need to become an HVAC professional in Texas and they are all over the state.
Austin Community College appears on a Top 10 Ranking nationwide.
Here are two great lists of the best HVAC schools in Texas:
Houston Trade Training LLC and Southern Careers Institute Corpus Christi also get good reviews.
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 pursuing 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 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.
Texas HVAC Licensing Exam Details
According to The Training Center of Air Conditioning and Heating, an HVAC school in Houston, you can expect the test for a Class A License to consist of 120 questions and have a time limit of four hours. For a Class B license exam, you’ll have three hours to answer 100 questions. You must score at least 70% to pass either exam. Each will have specialized questions, but the same general topics will include:
Business and Law
Heating and cooling
Refrigeration systems and principles
Who Issues HVAC Licenses in Texas?
The Texas Dept. of Licensing & Regulation issues and renews all HVAC contractor licenses in the state.
Does My Texas HVAC License Work in Any Other State?
Yes. There are reciprocity agreements with South Carolina and Georgia.
HVAC Specific Requirements: EPA Certification
Everywhere throughout the country, including Texas, federal-level EPA 608 HVAC Certification (to handle refrigerants) (Environmental Protection Agency) is required for any professional who conducts refrigerant line-pressure tests or handles or adds refrigerant to existing AC 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.
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.
Other Requirements Unique to Texas
To keep your state-issued license current, Texas requires you to complete eight hours of continuing education, including one hour of instruction. This continuing education must be completed before your license expires. For late renewal (if eligible), educational courses must be completed within one year immediately prior to the date of renewal.
You can stay up to date on all HVAC industry news in several ways: