Why become a qualified air conditioner contractor? Because two-thirds of all US homes utilize one or more air conditioning systems. At some point, home air conditioning services for maintenance, home air conditioner repair, or new installation will be required.
A licensed HVAC contractor can look forward to a rewarding and lucrative career. That is because heating and air conditioning services will always be in demand, regardless of the season. While the importance of quality home air conditioner services is indisputable, many persons do not realize the extent of formal and hands-on air conditioning training required to become a qualified air conditioner contractor.
Air Conditioning Professionals
Persons interested in providing commercial or home air conditioning services must meet the educational guidelines and hands-on air conditioning training required by law. State-mandated instruction is necessary to become a licensed HVAC contractor. And strict codes, standards, and procedures (such as those endorsed by Air Conditioner Contractors of America, ACCA) must be adhered to.
Note: Air Conditioner Contractors of America, ACCA, is responsible for setting the standard for proper design and installation of central split air conditioning systems nationwide. ACCA procedures and standards for heating and air conditioning services are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and required by many building codes and regional laws.
Air Conditioner Contractors of America, ACCA, also provides unique learning opportunities for air conditioner professionals across the US. Their primary goals: making the HVAC/R industry and each qualified air conditioner contractor successful, setting high standards for licensed HVAC contractor excellence, and promoting the best commercial and home air conditioning services possible.
To become a licensed HVAC contractor and work on units like HVAC split air conditioning systems, multiple skills must be mastered. Consider the following basic air conditioning training required to become an HVAC qualified air conditioner contractor:
- Basic air conditioning training -formal instruction, usually acquired over two-years or more: how various air conditioning systems work, codes and regulations in regards to professional home air conditioning services, installation, maintenance, home air conditioner repair procedures, and more. Basic skills required of all air conditioning professionals.
- Hands-on air conditioning training - essential to become a qualified air conditioner contractor. Putting knowledge to work while on the job.
- Licensed HVAC contractor training - specifically for heating and air conditioning services. Includes instruction on split air conditioning systems, and heating and cooling practices. Utilizes a combination of classroom education and hands-on experience.
- Ductwork fabrication and installation - taking sheets of galvanized steel and fabricating ductwork to connect to the various vents that carry heated or cooled air from air conditioning systems to areas of a structure.
- Ventilation and exhaust - requiring arc welding skills to join parts together, utilized primarily by air conditioning professionals for commercial applications.
Heating and Air conditioning Services
Air conditioning professionals like an HVAC qualified air conditioner contractor have an open door to off-shoot fields; heat, ventilation, refrigeration, commercial and home air conditioning services. Consider the following:
- HVAC maintenance technician - checks and maintains the operation of HVAC split air conditioning systems.
- Licensed HVAC Contractor Service Technician - trouble-shoots, repairs, and installs components in residential air conditioning systems. Note: the most successful licensed
HVAC contractor service technicians work their way up to commercial applications and refrigeration.
- Qualified air conditioner contractor HVAC System Installer - installs residential and commercial HVAC split air conditioning systems, weighing as much as 20 tons. Some system installers provide full heating and air conditioning services for installation (running copper piping, hanging ductwork, etc.)
- Air conditioner contractor refrigeration technician - handles low temperature systems; chillers, walk-in coolers and freezers, wine chillers, ice machines, etc. (Considered a stressful job, due to emergency nature of services.)
- HVAC system engineer qualified air conditioner contractor - designs blue prints for installing HVAC split air conditioning systems, including ductwork. Calculates factors to determine proper size air conditioning systems for a particular structure.
As you can see, air conditioning professionals provide a variety of heating and air conditioning services for different applications. Servicing various types of air conditioner systems, each requiring specialized skills. For that reason, unique air conditioning education training requirements may exist to become a qualified air conditioner contractor in a specific area of service.
HVAC Contractor License Requirements
Each state regulates its own HVAC contractor license requirements, insurance and basic air conditioning training requirements. These obligations must be met before offering commercial or home air conditioning services anywhere in the US. Obviously, the more types of commercial and/or home air conditioning services a licensed HVAC contractor offers, the more intense/broad the air conditioning education training requirements.
For instance, HVAC air conditioning education training is required before working on HVAC split air conditioning systems. For environmental safety purposes, EPA 608 certification is also required by anyone handling a refrigerant (i.e. Freon). Therefore, air conditioner professionals who offer home air conditioning services must acquire EPA 608 certification, before training to troubleshoot HVAC split air conditioning systems.
Additional certification would likely be required for commercial applications. Of course, a universal HVAC contractor license would give a qualified air conditioner contractor more job flexibility.
What is a Universal HVAC Contractor License?
A universal license allows a contractor to offer a broader range of commercial and home air conditioning services. Three types of HVAC certification is required for a universal HVAC contractor license:
- Type I certification - for small pressure appliances and units (utilizing less than 5 pounds of refrigerant).
- Type II certification - for medium, high, and very high pressure appliances and heating and air conditioning systems.
- Type III certification - for handling low pressure refrigerant systems and appliances.
A qualified air conditioner contractor that meets universal HVAC contractor license requirements can provide both commercial and home air conditioning services. Someone with only type I or type III certification could not, since type II certification is required for larger commercial units utilizing high pressure refrigerants. Of course, other certification requirements exist for other types of heating and air conditioning services.
Other HVAC Contractor License Requirements
It is important to note that each state may have unique guidelines that must be met before qualifying for HVAC licensing. For instance, the state of Texas issues two types of licenses for HVAC contractors. Class A allows contractors to work on any size HVAC equipment. Class B limits services; up to 25 tons of cooling, and 1.5 Btu of heating.
In addition to obtaining the appropriate license for the type of commercial or home air conditioning services rendered in Texas, special endorsements are required. Endorsements for environmental air conditioning, or commercial refrigeration and process cooling/heating, or both. A separate exam for each endorsement is necessary; requiring a minimum of 36 months of hands-on air conditioning training within the last five years.
By contrast, the state of Virginia endorses three classes of qualified air conditioner contractor licenses, based upon value of commercial and home air conditioning services rendered within a one-year period. A separate HVAC contractors exam for each HVAC contractor license desired must be taken and passed. Certification usually requires between 2 and 5 years experience. A tradesman license is also required of all HVAC professionals, obtained after passing a separate exam.
Washington state has four HVAC contractor license classifications:
- General/specialty contractor - basic AC licensing.
- Electrical contractor - for businesses w/employees that provide electrical refrigeration, heating and air conditioning services.
- Electrical administrator - for businesses with an employee certified as administrator; ensuring company work performed abides by state laws and Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) code standards.
- Journeyman electrician - for working on HVAC/R electrical components
Air Conditioning Education Training
In many states, HVAC contractor license requirements to become a qualified air conditioner contractor will include formal HVAC air conditioning education training. Practical on the job training is also required.
As important as HVAC classroom instruction is to become a licensed HVAC contractor, experience is the best teacher. Skills to render expert home air conditioning services are generally acquired over time; implementing Air Conditioner Contractors of America (ACCA) standards, while providing home air conditioner repair, maintenance, and installation services. Rule of thumb, the more areas that air conditioning professionals are certified in, the more experience is required to perfect his/her skills.
Even so, rookie air conditioning professionals who fully apply themselves during air conditioning education training can provide expert quality heating and air conditioning services from the get-go. Services every bit as trustworthy and excellent as veteran air conditioning professionals. Key factors are:
- How committed the licensed HVAC contractor in-training is about becoming the best qualified air conditioner contractor he/she can be - providing the best home air conditioning services possible.
- How adept rookie air conditioning professionals are learning the various air systems, and how they work: ductless air conditioner systems, single-package, wall, window, solar, split air conditioning systems, evaporation coolers, etc.
- How knowledgeable the newly licensed HVAC contractor is about state codes, and the standards endorsed by the Air Conditioner Contractors of America - ACCA.
Becoming a Qualified air conditioner Contractor
Air conditioning education training requirements to become a licensed contractor and provide home air conditioning services may differ state to state. However, basic air conditioning training requirements in the US usually includes:
- EPA 608 certification - required to handle refrigerant. EPA 608 certification is critical for safety instruction; for handling refrigerants, and the safety of people and the environment. It is considered the first and most important aspect of air conditioning education training. Required before learning to trouble shoot air conditioning systems.
- Formal air conditioning education training - accredited vocational training; usually provided by community colleges, technical schools, or industry-related associations.
- Hands-on air conditioning training - turning knowledge into skill, by implementing what has been learned. (Hands-on air conditioning training is critical to become a qualified air conditioner contractor. In the state of California, for instance, a minimum of four years experience providing home air conditioning services is required to become a licensed HVAC contractor.)
- HVAC contractors exam - paid for and passed before meeting HVAC contractor license requirements.
- Insurance requirements - for type of HVAC contractor license acquired and heating and air conditioning services rendered.
- Ongoing education - for the state in which services are rendered. For instance, in Texas eight hours of basic air conditioning training is required each year for HVAC contractor license renewal.
HVAC Contractors Exam Preparation Tips
An HVAC contractor license is one of the most sought after licenses in the building industry. That is because regardless of the time of year, commercial and home air conditioning services are always high in demand.
HVAC contractors exam requirements to become a qualified air conditioner contractor may differ state to state. Even so, the tips below can help you prepare for a HVAC contractors exam, regardless of state guidelines:
- Research - exam requirements and materials to be covered. Familiarize yourself with HVAC contractors exam format.
- Prepare - obtain and organize your HVAC contractors exam tools; reference books, recommended reading, industry codes, etc. Become familiar with the layout of your books, for quick, easy referral while taking the HVAC contractors exam.
- Study - HVAC contractors exam material. Including HVAC system assessment, design, and installation, duct system and design, ductwork fabrication and installation, HVAC components (electrical, plumbing, refrigeration, etc.), quality air conditioner contractor service and maintenance procedures, commercial and home air conditioner repair, safety, system checks, protective equipment, and handling hazardous materials.
- Develop - speed and efficiency. Helpful idea: make flash cards with key topic questions on one side and answers on the reverse, for self-drills.
- Review - materials just prior to the HVAC contractors exam, paying special attention to codes, procedures, and any areas of weakness.
Persons interested in becoming a qualified air conditioner contractor and providing commercial and home air conditioning services, should research their state's requirements. Try connecting with the National Contractors Association online; research HVAC license requirements by state. Another resource is the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation - or your state's equivalent.Posted by: TrustedPros