Unlocking a world of opportunity begins with the right key. In the world of skilled trades, earning your North Carolina HVAC license is pivotal. This certification demonstrates your skills, commitment, and readiness to embark on a fulfilling career journey.

Acquiring an HVAC license in North Carolina unlocks many professional opportunities and paves the way to boost your earnings. So, whether you’re thinking about a career shift or you’re an experienced technician striving for career advancement, this guide will show the path toward securing your North Carolina HVAC license.

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Types Of HVAC Licenses In North Carolina

As you delve deeper into the world of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), you’ll encounter different types of HVAC licenses in North Carolina. Each has its unique requirements and privileges, which we’ll discuss below. 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.

Refrigeration Contractor

The Refrigeration Contractor license allows professionals to install, service, and repair commercial refrigeration units. This licensure permits HVAC professionals to work on diverse projects involving commercial and industrial refrigeration systems.

To qualify for a refrigeration license, one must pass the state examination. You must also demonstrate competence in handling complex refrigeration systems and upholding the highest safety and efficiency standards. Once you pass the HVAC technician license exam, you can aim to specialize in commercial refrigeration contracting.

Heating And Cooling

This type of license offers a broader scope, encompassing the realms of both heating and cooling systems. As a heating and cooling license holder, you’re authorized to handle HVAC projects related to forced air heating, heat pumps, water-based heating systems, and cooling units, to name a few.

The Heating group is further divided into three categories:

  • H1: This license covers water-based heating systems and allows HVAC professionals to work on such projects in residential and commercial settings.
  • H2: With an H2 license, HVAC technicians can handle forced air heating systems that weigh more than 15 tons in all types of buildings, including residential, commercial, and industrial.
  • H3: An H3 license permits HVAC professionals to work on all heating systems weighing 15 tons or less, offering the most comprehensive coverage within the heating domain.

Licensing Requirements for HVAC/R Contractors in North Carolina

If you want to become an HVAC/R contractor in North Carolina, you must meet specific prerequisites. These requirements not only ensure you have the aptitude to perform the job well but also maintain a high standard of service in the HVAC business industry.

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Education Requirements

You can leverage formal education to meet half of the on-the-job experience requirement. Obtaining a certificate or an associate’s degree in HVAC technology can fast-track your career progress. Schools across the state offer programs that equip students with technical training directly related to HVAC systems. We maintain an extensive list of trade schools on our website.

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.

On-The-Site Experience

Alongside formal education, practical on-the-job experience is a critical component of your HVAC portfolio. This hands-on experience equips you with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in the field. Here are some licenses to give you the additional boost of practical experience:

Refrigeration License:

To earn a refrigeration license, you need to have 4,000 hours of experience with commercial refrigeration units. However, you can meet half of this requirement (2,000 hours) through academic or technical training. You can achieve the remaining hours under the supervision of a certified professional refrigeration contractor or engineer. The State Board of Refrigeration Contractors regulates this licensure in North Carolina.

Heating and Cooling License:

Similar to the refrigeration license, this license requires you to undertake 4,000 hours (roughly two years) of on-the-job experience. It involves work in the maintenance, service, repair, or installation of heating systems. Again, you can fulfill half of this requirement through academic or technical training.

For the standard HVAC technician license, you must have 3,000 hours of practical experience. The North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Heating, Plumbing, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors is responsible for plumbing or heating systems-related licensing.

How To Get A North Carolina HVAC License

Acquiring a North Carolina HVAC license is an enriching journey that combines academic learning, hands-on experience, and determination. Here is a concise step-by-step guide to help you navigate this path:

1. Begin your journey by either enrolling in an HVAC diploma or certificate program or completing a two-year degree. Another viable option is to undertake an apprenticeship, either through a local union or trade organization or informally, under the supervision of a licensed contractor for HVAC units.

2. Once you’ve acquired enough knowledge and hands-on experience, prepare to apply for one of the two technician licenses. Make sure to fulfill the eligibility criteria for the technician license you are applying for.

3. Complete and submit your application, ensuring that any required signatures are notarized.

4. Obtain background check information from an approved provider and submit it along with your application to the Board’s office.

5. Upon approval of your application, you’ll be notified of your exam eligibility. Schedule your test with the help of the exam provider from the North Carolina State Board. You must take the exam within 30 days of notification.

6. Once you pass the exam, complete the Licensing Activation form and submit the required fee to obtain your North Carolina HVAC license.

7. If your goal is to become a licensed contractor, you must acquire an additional 2 years (or 4,000 hours) of full-time on-site experience. However, up to half of this requirement can be fulfilled through relevant academic or technical training.

8. As mentioned, to qualify for a Refrigeration Contractor’s License, you must provide evidence of 4,000 hours of applicable experience.

Cost Of Obtaining An HVAC License In North Carolina

Obtaining a North Carolina HVAC license is a worthwhile investment in your future, despite the costs involved. Here’s a breakdown of the standard fees:

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  • Exam Application Fee: $100
  • License Activation Fee: $150
  • License Renewals: $150 annually
  • EPA Certification Fee: $40
  • Background Check: $30 and up

Please remember these costs may change in the future, so it’s recommended to verify with the state Board of Examiners.

You will shoulder an initial expense if you want to pursue a certificate program or an Associate of Applied Science degree at a vocational school, technical institute, or community college. For apprenticeships, expect to pay nominal fees spread over the four or five-year program duration. But remember, your wage increases as you gain additional experience and expertise.

How Long Does It Take To Get An HVAC License?

The time it takes to obtain a North Carolina HVAC license varies depending on several factors. Firstly, the duration of academic or technical training can range from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the program.

Once you meet the prerequisites, the process of applying, taking the examination, and obtaining your license typically takes a few weeks to a few months. Altogether, you can expect the entire process to take anywhere from 2 to 4 years.

How Much Does HVAC Pay In NC?

Compensation for HVAC professionals in North Carolina can vary widely based on experience, specialization, and location. Entry-level HVAC technicians could expect to earn around $15-$20 per hour, while more experienced technicians and contractors might earn in excess of $25-$35 per hour. However, please note that these figures are estimates and can fluctuate.

National HVAC Certifications

Stepping into the realm of HVAC operations in North Carolina necessitates more than just state-level certifications. A broad range of national certifications adds credibility to your HVAC skill set, enhancing your marketability to prospective employers.

EPA Certification

The EPA Certification is a mandatory qualification for HVAC professionals in North Carolina and nationwide, as mandated by Section 608 of the federal Clean Air Act. This certification is crucial for technicians who service, maintain, repair, or dispose of equipment that could release ozone-depleting refrigerants into the atmosphere.

Obtaining the EPA Section 608 HVAC Certification is especially important for those handling refrigerant line-pressure tests or adding refrigerant to existing air conditioning systems. Various training programs can guide you in obtaining this certification, or your employer may require it before you’re permitted to handle refrigerant. You can find the appropriate certification programs in your state by visiting the official EPA website and searching for “608 Certification”.

NATE Certification

Recognized and highly respected across the nation, the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification distinguishes HVAC technicians as masters in their fields. Although not a legal necessity, many employers highly prefer their technicians to hold this certification.

It covers a variety of specializations, including air conditioning, gas furnaces, and oil heating. With NATE certification, an HVAC technician is proven to possess the professional acumen needed to effectively diagnose and repair HVAC equipment.

R-410A Certification

R-410A, a commonly utilized refrigerant akin to Freon, requires special handling due to its extraordinarily high pressure. Hence, technicians intending to work with R-410A are strongly recommended to complete a specialized training course. This certification attests to a technician’s competence in safely handling and utilizing R-410A in HVAC systems.

Indoor Air Quality Certification

The Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) certification is a testament to an HVAC technician’s understanding of installing, maintaining, and repairing HVAC air quality systems.

Given the propensity for air conditioning units to encounter issues, hiring a technician with IAQ certification can be crucial in maintaining the system’s optimal performance. This certification demonstrates the technician’s ability to ensure the indoor air quality stays within acceptable parameters, providing homeowners with peace of mind.

HVAC License Renewal

In North Carolina, it’s crucial to note that both HVAC and Refrigeration licenses need to be renewed annually by the end of each calendar year. This ensures that HVAC professionals are up-to-date with the industry’s latest standards and practices.

For HVAC contractors, the renewal fee is set at $150, whereas for HVAC technicians, the fee is a more modest $75. Refrigeration contractor licenses in North Carolina must also be renewed for a fee of $120.

North Carolina HVAC or Refrigeration Contractor License Reciprocity

Unfortunately, North Carolina doesn’t offer reciprocal agreements with any other state for HVAC or Refrigeration contractor licenses. To secure licensure, applicants must satisfy all the requisite conditions and successfully clear the respective exams within North Carolina. However, current and former military personnel, along with their spouses, may receive credit for experience obtained during active service.

One potential exception to this rule is for those holding a Licensed South Carolina Contractor in Heating Group 1 Class II or Heating Group 3 Class II. If you are in good standing with these South Carolina licenses, you may be eligible for a technical exam waiver. Please note, however, that this waiver only applies to the technical exam. Recipients are still required to take and pass the North Carolina Business and Law exam.


If you are a job seeker with an ambition to grow, a career in the HVAC industry in North Carolina could be the perfect pathway for you. Obtaining a North Carolina HVAC license is more than just a formality; it’s the first step towards building a fulfilling, successful career. As an HVAC professional, you can create comfortable environments, solve challenging problems, and continually grow your skill set.

And as a potential recruiter, hiring a licensed HVAC technician ensures you are choosing a professional who meets the state’s standards, ensuring quality work and customer satisfaction.

No matter where you are on this journey, BlueRecruit is here to support you. We connect skilled professionals with hiring companies, helping bridge the gap between opportunity and talent. You can create an account in less than 10 mins, and it’s FREE. It’s not just about finding a job or an employee; it’s about building a future. Pursue your HVAC license today, and let BlueRecruit guide you on your path to success!


Does North Carolina require an HVAC license?

Yes, North Carolina requires an HVAC license for all HVAC contractors and professionals who intend to perform installations, maintenance, or repair work on HVAC systems. This license ensures that professionals have the necessary training, education, and experience to perform work safely and effectively.

Is it hard to get an HVAC license in NC?

Acquiring an HVAC license in North Carolina demands dedication and a strong commitment. It involves academic or technical training, on-site experience, passing exams, and more. While the process can be challenging, it is achievable and leads to a rewarding career.

What HVAC work can be done without a license in NC?

In North Carolina, any job costing less than $30,000 does not require a license. However, it is highly recommended to always hire licensed professionals to ensure safety, compliance with building codes, and quality workmanship.

How long is HVAC school in NC?

HVAC schooling duration in North Carolina varies depending on the specific program. Certificate programs can take up to one year, while an associate’s degree in HVAC technology typically takes about two years to complete. This duration does not include the on-site experience necessary for obtaining an HVAC license in North Carolina.