How to Become an HVAC Technician in Washington – HVAC Contractor License WA State

Washington is one of the highest-paying states for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians. With a mean salary of $65,180, this state offers attractive positions for those who want to work in the HVAC field. 

To become an HVAC tech in Washington, you’ll need to complete a training period, become a licensed electrical trainee, then receive your journeyman electrician license in an HVAC specialty category. You can also start your own HVAC business by getting your HVAC Contractor License. This article will break down the steps you need to take to work in Washington’s HVAC field.

Do You Need an HVAC License in Washington?

The state of Washington requires HVAC workers to be licensed or certified by the State Department of Labor & Industries. HVAC work may also be regulated by individual cities, so always double-check your city’s requirements before completing any HVAC work. 

The following state licenses and certifications are available:

  • General or specialty contractor registration: This is required if you are completing non-electrical aspects of HVAC-Refrigeration (HVAC-R) work.
  • Specialty HVAC Electrical Contractor License: This is required if you plan to own your own business that completes electrical HVAC-R work. 
  • Electrical administrator or master electrician certifications: All HVAC-R firms completing electrical HVAC work must employ one of these individuals.
  • Journeyman Electrician Certification: This is offered in 2 HVAC specialties for HVAC techs.
  • Electrician Trainee Certification: You must begin your HVAC career in Washington as either a trainee or apprentice with this certification. 

Steps to Become an HVAC Tech in WA

To become an HVAC tech in Washington, you’ll need to become a trainee, gain between 2,000-4,000 hours of experience, and then become a journeyman technician. If you want to further expand your career, you can also consider pursuing an HVAC contractor license or a master electrician license.

  1. Become an HVAC Trainee

The first step to becoming an HVAC tech is becoming an electrician trainee. You can do this if you are 16 years or older with a valid Social Security Number. If you are under 18, you will need to hold a minor work permit and parental/school authorization forms. 

To be a trainee, a qualified and licensed/certified HVAC tech or contractor must supervise your work. The supervision ratio is 1 trainee to 1 journeyman HVAC tech or 2 trainees for every specialty electrician.

HVAC trainees will hold this certification as they train on the job, through an apprenticeship, or while in trade school. This certification must be renewed every 2 years until the trainee is ready to take their journeyman exam. 

You can find all of the information on this certification and apply for it online. 

  1. Gain HVAC Experience

As you work under your qualified supervisor, you will gain experience in the HVAC field. You’ll need either 2,000 or 4,000 hours of supervised work hours to apply for your journeyman certification.

Be sure your Trainee Certification is up-to-date during this time.

  1. Become a Journeyman HVAC Tech

There are two types of journeyman certifications you can pursue to become an HVAC tech in Washington. 

First, there is the HVAC-R Restricted Certification (6B). This certification limits you to work with 30 volts or less and limited linework on small HVAC systems. You only need 2,000 hours of supervised experience to apply for the exam for this license.

Before applying, you must complete 96 hours of electrical basic trainee classes, verify your work experience, then apply online or via mail.

The second certification option is the HVAC-R Nonrestricted Certification, which lets you work on 30 volts and less plus limited line work on all HVAC-R systems. You need 4,000 hours of experience, of which 75% should be supervised, to apply for the exam for this license.

Before applying, you must complete 48 hours of electrical basic trainee classes, verify your work experience, and apply via mail.

HVAC techs with an out-of-state license should use this form.

When your application is reviewed and approved, you will receive instructions on how to schedule your journeyman exam. Once you pass your exam, you’ll receive your certification. 

All HVAC journeyman certifications expire every three years. You can renew your certification online.

  1. Additional HVAC License Options

If you become an HVAC tech at the journeyman level but want more out of your career, you may move on to become a master electrician or HVAC contractor in Washington. 

Master electricians have at least 2 years of experience in their specialty (HVAC) before taking the master exam. If you were a general journeyman electrician with no specialty, you will need 4 years of experience before applying. You can apply in person, by mail, or online.

After your application is reviewed and approved, you’ll receive instructions on how to register for the master exam. Once you pass this exam, you’ll receive the license. 

This license will replace any other license you have held. This means that your journeyman HVAC license will no longer be valid. 

HVAC contractors can receive a general contractor license or specialty contractor license. All contractors are self-employed or have a business that employs other HVAC journeyman techs and/or trainees. They must also employ a master electrician or electrical administrator unless they are licensed as one themselves. 

Contractors will need a valid UBI number, a $4,000 surety bond, and workers comp (if applicable) to apply.

If you are a licensed general contractor who is completing non-electrical HVAC work, such as ductwork, you should only register as a contractor with the state.

HVAC Tech Salaries in Washington

Out of all 50 states, Washington ranks 4th in states with the highest-paid HVAC techs. There are almost 7,000 filled HVAC positions in the state and a positive job outlook. 

The average base salary in Washington is a whopping 14% above the national average. Below are the average salaries in the highest-paid cities in the state.

  • Everett, WA: $70,750
  • Renton, WA: $69,660
  • Seattle, WA: $60,200

Journeyman HVAC techs see an even higher average salary of about $67,800 across the state, not including additional overtime pay.

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