If you’re looking for a career that is in high demand in Illinois and provides excellent job security, you may be considering becoming an HVAC technician.
However, before you proceed with your decision to be an Illinois HVAC technician, it’s important to cover all your bases. For example, most states have licensing and certificate requirements when it comes to being a heating and cooling worker.
Luckily for you, Illinois is one of the few states that doesn’t have statewide licensing or certification requirements to become an HVAC technician. However, depending on where you live in Illinois, there may be county or city requirements.
Additionally, even if they aren’t required by your city or state, there are certain credentials and certifications that all heating and cooling professionals must obtain.
If your head is spinning at the idea of schooling and certifications, there’s no need to worry. This article goes over everything you need to know to become an HVAC technician in Illinois, including licensing and certification requirements.
Illinois HVAC license requirements
As mentioned, Illinois doesn’t have any statewide licensure or certification requirements to become an HVAC technician as states like Florida do.
However, depending on where you live in Illinois, there’s a good chance that your city, county, or municipality has requirements in place. Therefore, it’s important that you check your local guidelines to find out what those requirements are.
In Chicago, for example, there are contractor license requirements in place that vary according to the value of the projects you plan to work on. These classifications range from Class A to Class E with Class A having no restrictions and a Class E license having the most restrictions.
For example, if you have a Class E license in Chicago, you can only work on projects with a value of up to $500,000, while a Class A license can work on any project no matter the cost.
While Chicago doesn’t require an official HVAC license, other cities like Springfield do. To receive your HVAC license in Springfield and many other cities and counties in IL, you’ll have to pass a certification exam.
Additionally, if you plan to start your own HVAC company, you’ll have to obtain a business license regardless of where you live.
Illinois HVAC certification requirements
While the state of Illinois doesn’t have any statewide license or certification requirements, there are several HVAC certifications you’ll have to obtain if you hope to get hired as a technician.
EPA 608 certification
The EPA 608 certification is required for all HVAC technicians who plan to work on any type of equipment containing refrigerant. The goal, is to get you to understand how detrimental refrigerant is to the atmosphere and how to best contain it when you’re servicing, repairing, installing, or removing HVAC equipment.
There are four different types of 608 certifications including Type 1, Type 2, Type 3, and Type 4. Make sure to check which Type the HVAC equipment you plan to work on falls into. If you want to be on the safe side, however, you should get your Type 4 certification. Type 4 is also known as a Universal certification because it allows you to work on any type of HVAC equipment.
Because the EPA 608 Certification exam is one of the most important you’ll take as an HVAC technician, it’s important that you prepare for it accordingly. The best way to do that is with our EPA 608 Certification Course & Exam Program where you can study prep materials for the exam and take it online!
In addition to the mandatory EPA 608 Certification, there are several NATE certifications that aren’t required by the state of Illinois, but they may be required by HVAC employers. Even if they aren’t, they can help you get a job or possibly get a promotion or raise in your current role.
Here are the most popular NATE certifications ranked from earliest in career (least experience) to latest in career (most experience):
- NATE Ready to Work Certification
- NATE HVAC Support Technician Certification
- NATE Certifcation Traditional Pathway & CHP-5 Certification
- Senior Level Efficiency Analyst Certification
The above links go to Faraday’s guides that go over what’s on each exam, how to best prepare for each exam, and how to take them online or at a testing center near you.
It may also be a good idea to obtain an ASHRAE certification which is sure to put you a notch above the rest of the HVAC competition.
Other requirements to be an HVAC technician in Illinois
In addition to each of the license and certification requirements we’ve covered so far, here are a few other things you may need to obtain if you want to start your own heating and cooling business in Illinois:
Business insurance will protect you from any damage to your business or a component of it. It will also help with any legal liabilities or employee-related risks that you incur from operating a heating and cooling business.
Commercial general liability insurance
This type of insurance will cover you if something happens to a customers property or to the customer while you’re working on their property.
Errors & omissions insurance
Errors and omissions insurance is a sort of secondary insurance that covers liabilities that traditional insurance doesn’t. It also provides coverage if a client attempts to sue you for negligence, errors, or mistakes you made that result in financial loss on their part.
Workers compensation is useful for when one of your employees injures himself or herself while working for you. It will cover their medical bills and pay for their injuries so that you don’t have to do it yourself.
If you plan to start your own heating and cooling business, each of these insurances is a must.
Licensing & certification fees to become an HVAC technician in Illinois
Like everything else in Illinois, the fees that you incur on your road to becoming an HVAC technician will vary from place to place. Nothing in life comes free and that includes heating and cooling licenses and certifications.
If you’re already working for someone, there’s a good chance that they’ll pay for your expenses. If you’re forced to go it alone, however, you’ll have to do some research to determine the licensing and certification fees in your area.
Here are a few examples of what individual counties and cities charge for HVAC licenses:
- Dupage County – $100
- McLean County – $65
- EPA 608 Certification exam – $25 for first attempt and $6 for each additional attempt
- EPA 608 Universal Certification Exam – $150
- Chicago Contractor License – $300 to $2,000
How to become an HVAC technician in Illinois
If you’re serious about pursuing an HVAC career, congradulations on an excellent decision. Heating and cooling is one of the most lucrative and necessary trades out there, and the world needs more people who are willig and ready to contribute.
Here’s what you need to know and the steps you’ll have to follow to start your career:
- Earn your high school diploma or obtain a GED. While Illinois doesn’t require an HVAC license to start practicing, they do require a high school diploma or GED equivalent.
- Complete the necessary training & schooling. There are many Illinois HVAC training programs out there that can help you get started in your HVAC career. You can also start working for a heating and cooling company as an apprentice and work your way up from there.
- Obtain your EPA 608 Certification. As mentioned above, being EPA 608 certified is a requirement for all HVAC technicians regardless of where you live.
- Pursue additional certifications (optional). These include the NATE certifications listed above.
- Write out your resume. Make sure to list your work experience, licenses, and certifications.
- Start applying for jobs! Casting a wide net will give you the best chance at earning a competitive salary and finding your best fit.
By enrolling in Faraday’s Online HVAC Training Program, you’ll put yourself on the fast track to checking off each of these boxes.
How Long it Takes to Become an HVAC Technician in IL
While going through each step on the list above seems like a lengthy process, the total time it takes to become an HVAC technician in Illinois varies.
It can take anywhere from six months to three years to finish all your training and certification depending on where you live and what the local requirements are.
However, if you start working as an apprentice for a heating and cooling company, you can start your career and get your additional training and certifications as you move forward.
HVAC technician schools & training in Illinois
The best way to prepare yourself for a career in the HVAC industry is by enrolling into a school or training program. Faraday’s Online HVAC Training Program is one of the best and most convenient options at your disposal. If you’re a resident of Illinois, you apply for enrollment into this program.
However, if you’re looking for a different option that possibly has in-person schooling and training, here are a few other options.
- Parkland College, Champaign
- Kenney-King College, Chicago
- Illinois Central College, East Peoria
- College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn
- Kankakee Community College, Kankakee
- Vatterott College, Quincy
Salary & job outlook for HVAC technicians in Illinois
The HVAC field is one that’s growing and lucrative. On average, HVAC technicians in Illinois make around $53,000 per year and an average of $25.72 per hour.
Earnings range based on where you live. For example, the average HVAC technician salary in Chicago is $59,790 but it's only $46,350 in Peoria.
Heating and cooling is also an industry that rewards you based on experience and skill. So, the longer you work as an HVAC technician and the more certifications and licenses you obtain, the more money you’ll make.
HVAC technicians also have a good job outlook, with the total number of jobs expected to grow over the next decade and great job security.