Many homeowners believe that an HVAC license and HVAC certification are interchangeable terms that mean the same thing. This is incorrect; the two titles mean quite different things, and understanding this can be helpful when you want to hire an HVAC professional. In this article, we will take a closer look at HVAC licensing and certification to help you make a more informed hiring decision.
What is an HVAC License?
When a person becomes interested in a career in the HVAC industry, they complete a degree or certification on the subject. It’s easier to think of this as a kind of post-graduate study program to prepare the person to work in the industry. This may seem like overkill, but it’s important because many states require an individual to pass a licensing examination before they can start work in the HVAC field. This ensures that the person has a focus on safety and that they are reliable.
Every candidate for an HVAC license must meet three minimum requirements before they will be accepted for the examination, they are:
- A minimum age of 18 years old.
- Fluency in English.
- Four years of warm heating experience.
The warm heating experience period can be partially accumulated as part of the certification process.
License candidates that meet the minimum criteria have an opportunity to take the International Code Council (ICC) examination. These comprehensive examinations have been created by the ICC, and they are administered at a series of testing centers located around the nation. When a candidate passes this licensing examination and they meet the requirements, they are legally eligible to become an HVAC technician. That individual can then choose to work for another HVAC company, or they could go into business for themselves. Due to a lack of practical on the job experience, most people tend to choose the former rather than the latter.
What is HVAC Certification?
HVAC certification provides all the skills that someone would need to work as an HVAC technician. But, this doesn’t allow a person to complete the certification and start their own HVAC company. For that, they would need the HVAC license we covered above in addition to the certification. When an individual studies for HVAC certification, they must complete around 120 hours of classroom instruction. These HVAC certification courses are usually completed during a five year period. Each candidate pays a registration fee to join the course, and they need to maintain a 2.5 minimum grade point average to pass.
Most colleges will offer this type of HVAC certification course to a candidate with either a GED or a high school diploma. If an individual has previous experience of working with a licensed HVAC technician, they will have more choices. This HVAC program will teach students about the design of equipment, construction materials, temperature control issues, how to carry out an installation, and how to handle repair issues. This covers every facet of working with heating and cooling equipment to help the person become a reliable and effective HVAC technician.
A person that passes the HVAC certification process can build or modify heating and cooling systems in compliance with required energy conservation standards. They will have the skills that need to carry out HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance tasks. This HVAC certification is granted to the candidate with either an associate degree or a printed certification of completion.
HVAC License or HVAC Certification: Which is Best?
Whenever you meet a person that claims that they can fix your HVAC system, it makes good sense to check their qualifications carefully. After all, your HVAC system represents a significant investment, and it’s a good idea to protect that investment. It’s not likely that you would allow someone to work on your car if they were not a qualified mechanic. And yet, many homeowners allow untrained people to work on their HVAC systems, and this can lead to a number of problems.
Responsible homeowners will want to hire a qualified HVAC professional, but which is best, an HVAC license or HVAC certification? The answer is both! Avoid hiring people that lack one or both of these qualifications, and the best HVAC contractors will always have both. These credentials are proof that this person has the training and relevant experience to work on your expensive HVAC system safely. If you ask to see proof of their HVAC license or certification, they will be happy to accommodate your wishes. After all, they worked hard for those qualifications, and they won’t ask you to “trust me” to get the job done poorly on the cheap.
Another key reason to choose an HVAC professional with a license and certification is they are more likely to keep up with trends in the industry. The HVAC industry moves pretty quickly; new innovations and techniques appear all the time. When you want a new HVAC system, it makes sense to hire a professional that’s up to date with the latest technology. They can offer valuable insights when you choose your HVAC systems that can make a huge difference to the performance and efficiency of your new system. Involving an HVAC professional at an early stage of a new build can help you to get the ideal HVAC system to match the size of your home. This will improve your indoor comfort levels and improve the energy efficiency to lower your utility bills.
Finally, it’s worth noting that an HVAC professional should have adequate levels of insurance coverage to work in your home. Even if an HVAC technician is careful, accidents can happen, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. Of course, a true HVAC professional will work hard to correct any problems, but you need to have insurance. Always ask an HVAC professional about their insurance for extra peace of mind before they start work in your home. Choosing an amateur to work on your HVAC system is risky because they lack formal training, experience, and insurance to cover any damage.
If you want to hire a licensed and certified HVAC professional, get in contact with us today.