Before working as an HVAC technician in Florida, you want to make sure that you have all the necessary licenses and certifications to work.
Florida requires HVAC technicians to be licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR).
This guide will go over exactly what licenses and certifications you need to work as an HVAC technician in Florida including how to get them and maintain them.
Florida HVAC License Requirements
Florida has several classes for certified and registered HVAC contractor licenses. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations defines a contractor as any person qualified and responsible for a project, such as HVAC installation or maintenance.
Obtaining a Florida HVAC Contractor License has several requirements, such as passing an exam, meeting experience requirements, passing a background check, showing proof of financial stability, and obtaining liability insurance.
Types of HVAC Licenses in Florida
In Florida, there are two different HVAC contractor license categories: Certified and Registered.
A Certified contractor can work in any jurisdiction in the state. A Registered contractor can only work in the jurisdiction where they are registered.
For example, if you get a local HVAC license from Broward County, you can apply for a Registered Air Conditioning Contractor license with the DBPR.
For both Certified and Registered Air Conditioning Contractor licenses, there are several Classes of licenses:
- Class A contractors means you have unlimited “experience, knowledge, and skill to install, maintain, repair, fabricate, alter, extend, or design central air-conditioning, refrigeration, heating, and ventilating systems.”
- Class B contractors are limited to work on systems up to 25 tons of cooling and 500,000 BTUs of heating.
- Class C contractors are limited to servicing systems and obtained their licenses prior to October 1, 1988. New Class C licenses are no longer issued.
Requirements to Get an HVAC License in Florida
Examination and experience requirements vary between Certified and Registered Contractor licenses, as local jurisdictions may have different requirements for Registered Contractors.
However, for both Certified and Registered Contractors, the following requirements apply:
- Fingerprints: You must submit your fingerprints through LiveScan for a complete background check.
- Financial/Credit: You will need to submit a credit score report and proof that local, state, and federal records have been searched to prove financial stability.
- Insurance: You must attest that you have obtained public liability and property damage insurance as required by the board, as well as workers compensation, unless you can show an exemption.
- Fee: Your license fee may vary depending on the time of year you apply, either $145 or $245. See the Florida HVAC License Costs section below for more information.
- Age: You must be over 18 years of age to apply.
- Application: You can submit your application online using the online portal or complete a paper application and mail into the board.
Florida HVAC License Exam Information
To obtain a Certified Contractor license, you will need to take several exams, including a Business and Finance Exam and a Trade Knowledge Exam.
However, if you have received a bachelor’s/baccalaureate degree in building construction from an accredited four-year college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you can request an exemption from taking the trade knowledge portion of the exam.
Class A and Class B Air Conditioning Licenses are considered Division 2 Exam Categories. There is a $135 administrative fee to register for your exams, plus $80 for each the Business and Finance exam as well as your Class A or Class B Trade knowledge exam.
The total cost to take your Florida HVAC license exams is $295 ($135 + $80 + $80).
Florida Business and Finance Exam
All Division 2 licensees are required to take Business and Finance exam, which is a 120-question, multiple-choice exam that is six and a half hours long.
The exam is broken into the following categories:
- Establishing the Contracting Business (11%): Covers basic business organizational structures, business plans, assets, and insurance requirements.
- Managing Administrative Duties (26%): Tests knowledge of business costs, accounting principles, negotiating and purchasing, and managing contracts.
- Managing Trade Operations (10%): Questions touch on topics such as leasing and purchasing equipment, managing material and tool inventories, ordering materials and supplies.
- Conducting Accounting Functions (32%): Consists of accounting topics such as invoicing, taxes, and accounts payable.
- Managing Human Resources (6%): Covers employment laws, OSHA, labor laws, and hiring processes.
- Complying with Government Regulations (15%): Tests knowledge of federal and state laws and regulations for OSHA, FEMA, Worker’s Compensation, and license requirements.
Class A Air Conditioning Trade Exam
The Class A Air Conditioning Trade Knowledge Exam takes more time and consists of more questions than the Class B exam. The exam contains 130 questions and takes seven and a half hours to take.
The exam covers the following topics:
- Pre-Installation (14%): Questions include evaluating knowledge of reading plans, making adjustments from plans, understanding of energy conservation principals, thermal resistance, and load requirements.
- Sheet Metal Ducts (9%): Tests knowledge of fabrication, sealing, locking, and seaming ductwork, as well as fittings.
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (23%): Topics include installation of major systems and equipment, such as fans, heat pumps, smoke detectors, coolers, and systems ranging from under 25 tons, to over 100 tons.
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Equipment Components (14%): Covers installation of specific components within systems, such as controls, single phase and three phase electrical components, piping, tubing, ductwork, piping, and coils.
- Maintenance Analysis of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (9%): Assesses knowledge of troubleshooting and diagnosing issues within systems
- Maintenance Service of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (14%): Questions cover maintenance of specific components within a system, such as compressors, blowers, regulators, and controls.
- Safety and Equipment (9%): Topics include warning signs, personal protection equipment, site safety, and using various tools.
- Energy Management (5%): Covers topic in energy efficiency, energy forms, and load calculations.
- Indoor Air Quality (3%): Tests knowledge of air flow, filters, and air cleaners.
Class B Air Conditioning Trade Exam
The Class B Air Conditioning Trade Knowledge Exam is shorter and covers fewer topics than the Class A exam. The exam contains 80 questions and takes five hours to complete.
The exam topics have different percentages, but covers the same topics:
- Pre-Installation (12%)
- Sheet Metal Ducts (9%)
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (22%)
- Installation of Refrigeration and HVAC Equipment Components (14%)
- Maintenance Analysis of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (10%)
- Maintenance Service of Refrigeration and HVAC Systems (14%)
- Safety and Equipment: (10%)
- Energy Management (5%)
- Indoor Air Quality (4%)
Other Florida HVAC License Information
If you get your Certified Contractor license, then you are allowed to perform work in any jurisdiction in that state. However, that does not mean that you do not have to comply with local code, such as specific city energy code requirements. Always ensure that you review the specific city or county requirements where you perform work.
If you get your Registered Contractor license, you will need to apply for separate, local licenses if you perform work in other cities or jurisdictions. Each jurisdiction may have their own exams, own applications, or fee requirements.
For example, Miami-Dade County allows State of Florida Certified Contractors to work in Unincorporated portions of the county with a verified state license, but not in incorporated portions of the county.
To work in incorporated portions of the county, contractors must apply for a local license. Miami-Dade County has licenses for Mechanical Maintenance Man, for people that perform maintenance on HVAC systems, but do not install them.
They also offer a wide variety of mechanical contracting licenses, some of which require exams, while others do not. For example, an Air Conditioning Unlimited license is similar to a Class A contractor license with the state of Florida.
How to Get Your Florida HVAC License
There are many steps to getting your Florida HVAC license. Start by reviewing the requirements on the Florida DBPR and make sure you have everything you need to apply.
Here are the steps you will need to take to apply for your Florida HVAC license:
- Ensure you have four years of verifiable, qualified experience and are over 18 years of age.
- Gather required materials, such as your FICO Credit Score Report, Background Check, Proof of Insurance.
- Create an online account with the board.
- Select which license you applying to.
- Answer eligibility questions to ensure the correct application has been selected, if available.
- Attach necessary documents for licensure, including: (a) proof of insurance, (b) credit report, (c) background check.
- Make secure payments.
- Receive the application summary and payment receipt confirmations via email.
- Take applicable exams.
- Return and check application status and attach additional documents, if needed.
Florida HVAC License Costs
When applying for a Florida HVAC license, you will need to pay the application fee to the Florida DBPR as well as your exam fees.
The DBPR fee varies depending on the year and what time of year you apply. Between May 1st of an even year through August 31st of an odd year the fee is $245. Between September 1st of an odd year through April 30th of an even year the fee is $145.
This is because there is a two-year renewal cycle for licenses and your first year may be prorated.
Therefore, for a full two-year cycle, your total cost would be $245 for the application fee and $295 for exam fees, or $540 altogether.
Florida HVAC Certification Requirements
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that anyone who maintain, service, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release refrigerants into the atmosphere be certified to prevent refrigerant pollution.
Technicians are required to pass an EPA approved test to each their Section 608 Technician certification. There are four different types of EPA 608 certifications: for small appliances, high pressure appliances, low pressure appliances, and all types of equipment.
We have a program EPA 608 Certification Course that prepares you for the exam and lets you take it online.
Florida also requires continuing education (CEs) for renewing your HVAC license. You are required to obtain 14 CEs for each renewal. CEs must include: 1 hour specialized or advanced module, 1 hour workplace safety, 1 hour business practices, 1 hour workers’ compensation, 1 hour laws and rules, and the remaining hours can be any board approved construction related instruction.
While Florida does not require any other special certifications, you can still obtain other certifications to help you get a job, advance your career, or increase your wages.
Some of these certifications might include a certificate from North American Technician Excellence (NATE). NATE Certifications, such as the Ready to Work Certificate for new technicians, or the main NATE Certification, either under the Traditional Pathway or CHP-5 pathway.
The American Society for Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) also provides continuing education and certificates. You can take courses in topics such as HVAC Design and Operations Training or get a certificate in Operations and Performance Management.
How to Become an HVAC Technician in Florida
If you are just getting started, here are the steps you will need to take to become a HVAC technician in Florida:
- Obtain your high school diploma or GED. While the DBPR does not specifically list this as a requirement, many employers may require you to have your high school diploma or GED to hire you.
- Complete Education and Training. You can attend a trade school, community college, accredited college program, or work in an apprenticeship. You may want to consider Faraday’s Online Florida HVAC Training Program which trains you on HVAC basics and helps you find a job.
- Get your EPA 608 Certification. Even though it is not mentioned on the DBPR website, the EPA 608 Certification is a federal requirement.
- Write your resume. Include all your education, training programs, certificates, and even volunteering you have done.
- Apply for jobs. Research companies that you would like to work for, including the company you worked for as an apprentice, if you did an apprenticeship.
How Long it Takes to Become an HVAC Technician in FL
Florida DBPR requires a minimum of four years of experience or college education to apply Air Conditioning license. However, there are some specific requirements for the type of on-the-job experience:
- Pursue a construction-related degree from an accredited college for 4 years (equivalent to 3 years of experience) and 1-year proven experience applicable to the category for which you are applying.
- 1 year of experience as a foreman and 3+ years of credits from an accredited college.
- 1 year of experience as a worker, 1 year experience as a foreman, and 2 years of credits from accredited college.
- 2 years of experience as a worker, 1 year experience as a foreman, and 1 year of credits from an accredited college.
- 4 years of experience as a worker or foreman of which at least 1 year must have been as a foreman.
Overall, you need between 4 and 5years of education and experience before applying for your Florida HVAC license.
HVAC Technician Schools & Training in Florida
Taking a training program or attending a school or college for HVAC technicians is a great way to learn the fundamentals of the industry. HVAC technicians in Florida can take Faraday’s Online HVAC Training Program to help you prepare for your exams or advance your career.
Here are other programs in Florida where HVAC technicians can get additional education:
- Traviss Technical College: Offers two programs, HVAC/R Technology 1 and 2, which are 750 and 600 hours respectively.
- Lively Technical College: Also offers two programs. The HVACR/1 program prepares students for a career in HVAC.
- Palm Beach State College: Has an intense, 1350 clock-hour program for helpers, mechanic assistants, and mechanics.
- Pinellas Technical College: Offers a 750-hour program that also covers EPA 608 Certification.
- Suncoast Technical College: Has a 750-hour program that also covers the EPA 608 Certification and prepares students to pass the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCEER) career tests.
- Osceola Technical College: Offers a 1350-hour program that includes preparation for the EPA 608 as well as the NATE Core and Heat Pump certification exams.
Salary & Job Outlook for HVAC Technicians in Florida
The average HVAC technician salary in Florida is $46,940 annually and $22.57 hourly. Salaries depend on where you live in Florida, how much experience you have, and what company you work for. The average 10-year job growth is about 5%.
For example, the average HVAC technician salary in Tampa Bay is $47,200 while it's $45,870 in Gainesville.
Nationally, HVAC technician salaries can range anywhere from $30,000 to $80,000. The average HVAC salary in Florida is slightly lower than the national average of $50,590 for HVAC technicians.
Your experience, who your work for, and other factors have a large impact on your salary as an HVAC technician in Florida.
There are some things you can do that can help you get a job as an HVAC technician or earn more money if you’re already one in Florida, such as:
- Get certifications/more certifications. HVAC certifications—such as the various NATE Certifications and EPA 608 Certifications—demonstrate your experience and knowledge in various parts of the industry.
- Join a union. Unions help HVAC technicians get better pay and benefits.
- Stay on top of industry advancements. Staying on top of advancements in the field helps make sure you are up to date on the newest tools and technologies and can always perform jobs to the best of your ability.
- Improve time management. Working efficiently and effectively as an HVAC technician helps the business’ bottom line while keeping customers happy.
- Work on communication skills. Always make sure to always address customers politely, communicate any delays and issues ASAP, and update them on your progress whenever possible.
- Start your own company. Once you have enough experience, there is no quicker (and harder!) way to multiply your earnings than by starting your own company.