California is no doubt one of the states that benefits most from the AC part of HVAC. The state has over 32,000 HVAC technicians working to keep California residents cool and comfortable.
HVAC mechanics and installers in California earn an average annual salary of $63,5601 — nearly $13,000 more than the median annual wage2 for these contractors nationwide. Not bad for a profession that’s based on technology originally called “an apparatus for treating the air.”3
To become an HVAC contractor in California you’ll need to get a license from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board.4 This license serves as proof of your professional training so potential employers and clients know that you’re capable of doing the job at hand.
The California HVAC license application requires verification of your work history and passing scores on two exams. You’ll also need adequate bond and insurance coverage to protect your business.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through each step to make sure you fulfill all the requirements to start working as a licensed HVAC technician in California, including answers to these common questions:
Do you need a license to be an HVAC Contractor Insurance?
How do you get an HVAC license in California?
What are the California HVAC license requirements?
How long does it take to get your HVAC license in California?
What are the California HVAC license renewal requirements?
Is California HVAC license reciprocity available?
What kind of insurance does an HVAC need in California?
What is the certificate of insurance requirement in California for HVAC contractors?
Do you need a license to be an HVAC contractor?
So who exactly needs to get a license to be an HVAC technician? The California Code of Regulations requires anyone who “fabricates, installs, maintains, services and repairs” HVAC systems to have a contractor license in order to complete any job priced at $500 or more in labor and material combined.
California HVAC license classifications
The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Contractors State License Board issues a different license classification for each type of contractor. As an HVAC technician, you’ll apply for the C-20: Warm-Air Heating, Ventilating and Air-Conditioning Contractor license classification.
If you work on equipment that has the potential to release refrigerants, you’ll also need to obtain a license from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This license will demonstrate that you have the proper training to handle refrigerants responsibly to minimize their environmental impact.
There are four types of EPA licenses5 for HVAC contractors:
Type I: Servicing small appliances
Type II: Servicing/disposing of high or very high-pressure appliances
Type III: Servicing/disposing of low-pressure appliances
Universal: Servicing all types of equipment
Some HVAC contractors choose to pursue a North American Technical Excellence (NATE) certification as well.6 NATE is the country’s largest non-profit organization offering HVAC certification. NATE certifications are widely recognized throughout the HVAC industry in the U.S. Although this professional certification is optional rather than a requirement, it may improve your earning prospects and make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers.