How to Become an HVAC Technician in Pennsylvania – HVAC Contractor License

HVAC techs in Pennsylvania and across the world work with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Many also work as HVAC-R techs, maintaining refrigeration systems as well. If you’re looking into this career within Pennsylvania, this article will help you learn about:

  • How to become an HVAC tech in PA
  • HVAC licenses and certificates
  • HVAC salaries in PA

HVAC Job Duties

HVAC technicians install, remove, repair, and maintain climate control systems, ventilation units, refrigeration systems, air conditioners, and more. Depending on local laws, these techs may work independently or under a licensed contractor, although the latter is much more common. 

Do You Need an HVAC License in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania does not issue statewide licensing or certification for HVAC techs or contractors; however, techs across the U.S. are required to hold an EPA Certification if working with refrigerants. 

In PA, each city determines its regulations around HVAC work in that area. Some cities, such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, have their own set of licenses you must apply for before working in the field. We will discuss these further below.

Becoming an HVAC Tech in PA

To become an HVAC tech in PA, it’s recommended that you:

  1. Finish high school or receive your GED
  2. Apply to a trade school or apprenticeship
  3. Complete said program
  4. Consider additional certification
  5. Apply to HVAC tech positions
  6. If desired, accumulate enough experience to receive your contractor license

Trade schools in PA can be community colleges or independent organizations. They usually offer programs that are 6 months to 2 years long, teaching you all things HVAC in a classroom setting. Some trade schools will grant you an associate’s degree upon completion. 

Registered apprenticeships, on the other hand, offer classroom learning in conjunction with more hands-on experience. This experience is paid and the entire apprenticeship usually lasts four years. Apprenticeships are a great way to gain experience, network in the field, and learn through real-life scenarios. 

HVAC Tech Licenses and Certifications

You should first check with your local licensing board to find out what HVAC licenses and certifications are both required and offered in your city. To give you an idea of what those might be, we discuss the licenses and certifications offered in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia towards the end of this article. 

Apart from local licenses and certificates, you can also aim to receive a nationally-recognized HVAC certificate to make your resume stand out when applying to HVAC positions. Some of these certificates include the EPA Section 608 Technician Certification, as well as certificates offered by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) training academy and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

EPA Certification for HVAC-R Techs

HVAC-Refrigeration (HVAC-R) techs in PA and across the U.S. are required to receive their EPA Section 608 Technician Certification. There are 4 certification types you can choose from.

  • Type I certifications allow you to service small appliances
  • Type II certifications allow you to service high-pressure appliances
  • Type III certifications allow you to service or dispose of low-pressure appliances
  • Universal certifications allow you to service all types of equipment

You should participate in and complete an EPA-approved program to qualify for the EPA exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll have this lifelong certification.

NATE Certifications in PA

NATE is one of the largest programs in North America offering certifications for HVAC-R techs. 

Their most comprehensive certification is called the NATE Certification, which is given to techs with at least 2 years of work experience. You can receive this certification by taking ONE of the following routes:

  • Pass the NATE Core exam and a NATE specialty exam
  • Take the Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5) Pathway, which gives you 5 exams covering Electrical and Controls, Installation, Service, HVAC Fundamentals, and Comfort and Airflow

You can prepare for your NATE exam through formal training and educational experiences. Two years of experience is recommended for professional NATE exams.

Once you meet this requirement, you can register for and take your exam. Upon passing, you’ll receive your certification.

ASHRAE Certifications in PA

HVAC techs can also receive a Certified HVAC Designer (CHD) certificate from ASHRAE in PA. This certificate demonstrates that you are competent in designing, building, and sizing HVAC systems and equipment. 

To apply, you must list your education and work experience and pay the application fee. If approved, you will be able to schedule your exam at any of the 300 testing locations around the globe. 

HVAC Licenses in Philadelphia

Philadelphia requires and offers licenses for sheet metal HVAC techs, PA home improvement contractors, and HVAC engineers. 

  • Sheet Metal Technician Licenses are for those who install, maintain, and service sheet metal in HVAC systems.  
  • Home Improvement Contractor Licenses are for HVAC techs who want to independently work on one- or two-family dwellings. 
  • HVAC Engineer Licenses are for HVAC engineers who work with steam boilers, high-temperature boilers, steam engines, hoisting engines, or refrigeration machinery. These are offered in four grades, depending on your work. 

HVAC Licenses in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh HVAC techs do not have to be licensed and can instead work under a licensed HVAC contractor. To become a licensed HVAC contractor, you’ll need to get your HVAC Trade License from the city.

To apply, you’ll need:

  • To be 18+
  • A valid driver’s license or photo ID
  • 4+ years of practical experience in the field
    • References to prove relevant job experience in the form of sworn statements or a notarized form if self-employed
  • To have passed the trade test by Pearson Vue
  • To pay the appropriate fees

You can apply online or via mail.

HVAC Tech Salaries in Pennsylvania

HVAC tech salaries vary depending on where you’re working, your experience level, and your certifications or licenses. The average HVAC tech in PA makes $49,580 per year, which is equivalent to the national average. 

These are the highest-paying cities for HVAC techs in PA:

  • Mechanicsburg: $60,300
  • York: $54,870
  • Philadelphia: $54,180
  • Harrisburg: $53,700

HVAC contractors, on the other hand, generally make more than techs. The average salary for this position in PA is $79,800. The general range can vary from $68,900 to $90,600 per year.

 

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