Whether it’s the icy chills of a Chicago winter or the sun-drenched heat of a Southern Illinois summer, the need for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning services is a constant in the lives of Illinois residents. If you’re intrigued by the idea of an evolving career in a high-demand field, this is the time to plunge into the dynamic world of the HVAC industry.

This guide breaks down the process of obtaining an HVAC license in Illinois. We’ll show all the steps, tricks and tips to help you get your license.

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Is An HVAC License Required In Illinois?

The landscape of HVAC licensing in Illinois isn’t quite as straightforward. While the state does not mandate an HVAC license for professionals to operate, several cities and municipalities within Illinois do require one.

This shows the significance of obtaining an HVAC license. It not only validates your proficiency in HVAC systems and your understanding of safety protocols, but it also demonstrates your dedication to your craft and commitment to upholding the industry’s high standards. It’s an important credential that potential employers value, as it assures them of your comprehensive training and expertise.

Regardless of the state’s broader requirements, having an HVAC license will increase your employment opportunities within Illinois. If you’re a licensed HVAC professional seeking the right job, BlueRecruit is here to assist. We are committed to providing HVAC professionals with a platform to highlight their skills and secure their dream job. You can learn more about this trade and other trades as well as conduct training, earn certifications, and even explore trade schools and scholarships at BlueCareer.

Types Of HVAC Licenses In Illinois

Illinois prides itself on holding high standards for its HVAC industry. It recognizes a variety of HVAC licenses and certifications, each with its specific purpose and focus. The guidelines may seem a little confusing, but don’t worry; we’re here to guide you through it.

EPA Certifications

For HVAC specialists working with refrigerants, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established specific rules and certification criteria. Known as the 608 Certification, it’s a federal requirement for anyone handling, disposing of, or servicing small appliances, high-pressure units, and certain controlled refrigerants. The certification comes in different types, each corresponding to specific appliances:

  • Type I certification is for small appliances, like water coolers, refrigerators, and window-type air conditioning systems.
  • Type II allows the handling of high-pressure appliances. These include heating systems, air conditioners, and supermarket refrigerators.
  • Type III EPA certification covers low-pressure appliances, such as chillers.
  • Universal certification allows HVAC contractors to work with all equipment under types I, II, and III.

NATE License Certifications

The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) offers nationally recognized certifications for HVAC technicians. These are knowledge-based exams that test your real-world understanding of HVAC systems, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems. NATE Certifications include the “Ready-to-Work” and “HVAC Support Technician” certificates.

The ‘Ready-to-Work‘ certification is a foundational NATE qualification for newcomers to the HVAC industry. The ‘HVAC Support Technician‘ qualification, meanwhile, is intended for those who have been employed in the industry for between six and twelve months.

For seasoned HVAC professionals, NATE offers specialty certifications like the ‘Core and Specialty Test‘ and the ‘Senior Level Efficiency Analyst’. These advanced-level certifications require HVAC professionals to demonstrate their expertise in complex HVAC systems and the latest energy-efficient technologies.

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We highly encourage every, regardless of industry, to obtain their OSHA 10 certification. We have a fantastic partnership with CareerSafe that provides BlueRecruit users discounted pricing. You can learn more and get started here.

ASHRAE Certifications

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is the body that establishes the requirements for environmentally friendly technologies in buildings. HVAC technicians and general contractors seeking to specialize in designing and managing HVAC systems may consider obtaining ASHRAE certifications.

Remember, whether you’re a mid-level HVAC professional or a veteran in the field, having the right credentials significantly increases your employability. Once you’ve earned these proper licenses and certifications, BlueRecruit can help you take the next big step in your career. Use our platform to showcase your skills and experience, and connect with hiring companies looking for professionals just like you!

How To Get An HVAC License In Illinois

Navigating the process of getting an HVAC license in Illinois might seem complex, but breaking it down into manageable steps can help make it clearer and less daunting. Here’s your guide to becoming a certified HVAC technician in Illinois.

Comply With The Licensing Requirements For Illinois HVAC Contractors

To become an HVAC technician in Illinois, there are specific requirements that you must meet:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must possess a high school degree or its equivalent in the GED.
  • You must possess a valid driver’s license because HVAC technicians often drive to clients’ locations. A clean driving record is also necessary, as many job listings specify no significant or frequent traffic violations or DUIs in the previous five years.

Complete Your Training

You need proper training to become an HVAC technician. This can be obtained through one of two paths:

Formal Education: Attend a trade school, community college, or technical college that offers HVAC courses. These institutions prepare you for the certification exams and provide a comprehensive understanding of HVAC systems.

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On-the-Job Training: You can also choose to become an apprentice or an entry-level worker for an HVAC business and get hands-on experience. This strategy typically entails two years of on-the-job training while preparing you for certification tests.

Pass The Exam

Once you’ve gained the necessary skills and experience, it’s time to get your certifications.

The EPA Section 608 Certification is a must-have for anyone handling certain controlled refrigerants found in AC and refrigeration systems. You’ll need to pass an exam to earn this certification. The exam is divided into different types, each corresponding to different appliances and scopes of work.

Core Section

The ‘Core Section’ of the EPA qualification exam must be passed irrespective of the accreditation type you’re striving for. This test covers key topics, such as ozone depletion, the Clean Air Act, substitute refrigerants and oils, refrigeration, safety, and more.

Illinois HVAC Exam Overview

The Illinois HVAC exam is comprehensive and rigorous. It tests your knowledge of a variety of HVAC systems, tools, maintenance techniques, and safety procedures. The exam may also cover regulations and laws applicable to the HVAC industry in Illinois.

Obtain Your License

After passing the necessary exams, you’re ready to obtain your HVAC license. Be aware that while Illinois doesn’t have a statewide licensing process for HVAC technicians, many cities and municipalities have their own licensing requirements. It’s critical to research the area’s license requirements before beginning any work.

Get Additional Certifications If Necessary

Adding to your list of certificates will make you more employable and even enhance your compensation. Certifications, such as NATE License Certifications or ASHRAE Certifications, may be beneficial, depending on your career goals.

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Lastly, a state-issued license for business and insurance for worker’s compensation are requirements if you want to run an HVAC company in Illinois.

Remember, no matter where you are in your HVAC career, BlueRecruit is here to support you. If you’re ready to take the next step, create a profile with us. We connect skilled HVAC professionals with hiring companies ready to fill their job vacancies.

Who Issues HVAC Licenses In Illinois?

In Illinois, there isn’t a state-level HVAC license; rather, HVAC licenses are issued at the local or city level. This means the licensing authority varies depending on where you plan to work. Typically, these could be city clerk’s offices, local licensing boards, or municipal departments. Regardless, you will be required to comply with the licensing requirements set by the local authorities. Always check your specific city or municipality for their unique contractor license requirements and processes.

Cost Of Obtaining An HVAC License

The cost of obtaining an HVAC license in Illinois depends largely on your chosen path. If you opt for formal education at a trade school or community college, you may need to budget for tuition expenses. These costs can range significantly—from a couple of thousand dollars for short trade programs to $15,000 for more comprehensive courses.

If you’re aiming for the EPA Section 608 Certification, the examination fees can vary. The Type I exam costs as little as $20, while the Universal Exam can set you back over $150.

Additionally, your local jurisdiction may impose a licensing fee. If you start as an apprentice, your upfront costs might be lower, but you’ll likely need to cover the cost of exams and licensing fees.

How Long Does It Take To Get An HVAC License?

The time it takes to get an HVAC license can depend on several factors. To get ready for the EPA Section 608 Certification Exam, you should typically anticipate two years of education or professional experience. Suppose you opt for on-the-job training as an HVAC engineer or support technician. You can gain experience while working under a seasoned professional, earning income throughout your learning period. Your worth in the HVAC industry rises as your skill level develops with experience. However, remember that every journey is unique, and the time to obtain an HVAC license may vary based on individual circumstances and local requirements.

Benefits Of Becoming An HVAC Technician In Illinois

Choosing to become an HVAC technician in Illinois offers numerous benefits. First, the HVAC industry is always in demand, guaranteeing a level of job security not found in all professions. Moreover, the job brings a significant opportunity for hands-on problem-solving, making every day unique. Lastly, the HVAC field offers great chances for career advancement. By acquiring additional certifications such as NATE or HVAC Excellence, you can specialize and increase your marketability. This ultimately leads to higher earnings and more job opportunities.

Salary Outlook

In Illinois, the salary outlook for HVAC professionals is positive. On average, an HVAC professional earns around $62,730 annually, with top earners reaching over $74,660.

Specific roles, like HVAC Installers and Technicians, make an average hourly wage of around $27.17 to $28.57. More experienced roles, like HVAC Mechanics, earn approximately $32.70 per hour. Meanwhile, HVAC Supervisors have a base salary of around $82,193 per year. Remember, salaries can vary based on location, education, certifications, and experience.

Job Opportunities

With a solid foundation in HVAC systems and the necessary certifications, job opportunities abound in Illinois. Cities like McHenry, Elgin, and Chicago are known for their high demand and salaries for skilled HVAC contractors. Whether you aspire to work with an established HVAC company or plan to start your own business, the opportunities are endless.

If you’ve already obtained your HVAC license and are looking for job opportunities, look no further than BlueRecruit. Start exploring exciting HVAC job opportunities with us today!

HVAC License Renewal

The longevity of your HVAC profession in Illinois depends not only on acquiring the necessary licenses and certifications but also on timely renewals. Remember that your HVAC license is not a one-time business. It expires after a specific period, based on the city where you work. For example, the city of Freeport requires professionals to renew their general contractor license every December 31.

To stay abreast in your field, ensure that your license is always current. The process involves completing necessary continuing education hours and paying the associated fees. A valid contractor license is key to demonstrating your commitment to professional standards and continual learning.

Illinois HVAC License Reciprocity

License reciprocity is important for HVAC contractors seeking opportunities in different states. While your skills and experience are transferrable, your Illinois HVAC license may not be. Every state has its unique licensing requirements that include minimum work experience thresholds and the passage of a specific licensing exam. It’s essential to thoroughly research the mandates of the state you’re considering before starting HVAC work there, even if you hold an Illinois license. Be aware that your EPA Certification and other qualifications may not be sufficient to perform HVAC work legally in another state. Always verify local regulations to ensure compliance and avoid professional setbacks.

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Your journey to becoming an HVAC professional in Illinois holds immense potential and promise. By acquiring the necessary licenses and certifications, you are equipping yourself with the tools to build a successful career in a thriving industry. The demand for skilled HVAC technicians is ever-present, ensuring a steady stream of job opportunities and the chance to make a meaningful impact.

BlueRecruit stands by your side, ready to unleash the full potential of your HVAC career. Our platform connects you with a wide network of hiring companies actively seeking professionals like you. With BlueRecruit, you can transcend traditional job search methods and unlock a world of possibilities.

So, seize the opportunity. Embrace the path to licensure, harness your skills, and let BlueRecruit be your guide. Step into a future where your expertise is valued, your ambitions are realized, and your HVAC career reaches new heights.

Take charge of your HVAC journey today. Join BlueRecruit and pave the way to a brighter and more fulfilling professional future!


What is the highest license in HVAC?

The highest license in HVAC can vary depending on the state and specific licensing requirements. In some cases, it may be a master HVAC license, which typically requires extensive experience, additional certifications, and federal certification requirements and passing a comprehensive examination. This advanced license demonstrates a high level of expertise in the HVAC field. It also allows HVAC contractors to take on more complex projects and oversee other technicians.

How much does an HVAC technician make in Illinois?

Illinois HVAC technician salary might fluctuate depending on expertise, abilities, area, and the particular job within the business. On average, HVAC technicians in Illinois earn around $62,730 per year. However, top earners in the field can make over $74,660 annually. Salaries may vary further depending on the city, additional skills, education level, and years of experience.

Where is HVAC most needed?

HVAC professionals are in demand across various locations, but some areas may have higher demand than others. HVAC is often needed in regions with extreme climates, where heating and cooling systems are crucial. Additionally, areas with growing populations and construction activities tend to have increased demand for HVAC services. Urban centers, suburban areas, and regions with a significant number of residential and commercial properties typically require HVAC expertise. However, HVAC needs can be found in various settings. These include residential homes, commercial buildings, hospitals, schools, and manufacturing facilities.