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Kentucky HVAC License: How to Become an HVAC Professional

October 2, 2023 8 min. read
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If you’re looking for a stable line of work in a field with growing demand, getting your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration license in Kentucky is a strong choice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of HVAC jobs will grow by 5% from 2021 to 2031, with over 40,000 openings each year over that span. The Bluegrass State currently has just over 5,000 HVAC professionals, so now is a great time to get started. 

The starting salary for someone with a full Kentucky HVAC license is around $31,435, which can increase to over $52,000 for those with extensive experience. You stand to earn even more than that if you start a Kentucky HVAC business.

 In this licensing guide, we’ll go over every critical step in the licensing process.

If you’re serious about getting your Kentucky HVAC license, check out our other free HVAC business resources. You’ll get templates, business advice, and guides to help you launch a successful HVAC career.

Does Kentucky require an HVAC license?

Yes, in Kentucky, you need an HVAC license to perform any work on systems that add or remove heat from the air and surrounding surfaces. These licenses are handed out by the Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction (DHBC) through the Division of HVAC

Fully licensed HVAC contractors can perform installation, routine maintenance, and major repairs on the following systems: 

  • Furnaces
  • Heat pumps
  • Condensing units
  • Fan coil units
  • Chiller systems
  • Certain heating boilers

For more information about the laws and regulations surrounding HVAC, you can find it in the state’s HVAC Laws & Regulations document

Types of HVAC licenses in Kentucky

There are three different types of HVAC classifications that are administered and overseen by the Kentucky board:

HVAC ApprenticeA registered apprentice is in the process of learning the trade and can assist with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning projects under the supervision of a master or journeyman contractor. 
Journeyman HVAC MechanicA licensed journeyman HVAC mechanic is able to perform heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work under the direction of a master contractor. 
Master HVAC ContractorA fully licensed master HVAC contractor can take on any heating, ventilation, and air conditioning project and advertise their services in the state. 

In Kentucky, journeyman and master HVAC licenses can be active or inactive. Inactive licenses let you hold on to your designation with it expiring, but you cannot actually work on HVAC projects until you pay the reactivation fee. 

Kentucky HVAC license requirements

The Department of Housing, Building, and Construction outlines the requirements you must meet to get an HVAC license in Kentucky: 

HVAC Apprentice• Find a licensed master HVAC contractor you can register under for your apprenticeship
Journeyman HVAC Mechanic• Be at least 18 years old
• Gain at least two years of experience working under a master HVAC contractor


• Have at least four years of master HVAC experience outside of Kentucky
• Pass the journeyman HVAC contractor exam
Master HVAC Contractor• Be at least 18 years old
• Gain at least two years of experience working as a licensed journeyman HVAC mechanic


• Have at least five years of master HVAC experience outside of Kentucky
Pass the master HVAC contractor exam 

In addition to the Kentucky state laws, anyone working with refrigerants in the United States is also required to get their Section 608 Certification. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act requires HVAC and other contractors to meet these standards. 

Our complete HVAC licensing guide has more information on meeting the Section 608 Technician Certification and EPA requirements as an HVAC professional. 

How do I get an HVAC license in Kentucky?

Typically, the process of getting your master HVAC contractor license in Kentucky takes at least four years. But you can work as a licensed journeyman in as little as two years.

Here are the steps you need to take to get that full license:

  1. Find a licensed HVAC master to work under and register as an apprentice
  2. Gain two years of experience as an apprentice, working under the direct supervision of a licensed master contractor or journeyman technician
  3. Write and pass the journeyman exam with a score of at least 70%
  4. Submit a completed journeyman HVAC mechanic license application
  5. Gain an additional two years of experience as a journeyman working under the supervision and direction of a master HVAC contractor
  6. Write and pass the master contractor exam with a score of at least 70%
  7. Submit a completed master HVAC contractor license application
    1. Attach proof that you have at least $500,000 in general liability insurance and at least $300,000 in property damage insurance

Applicants can submit applications to the Kentucky Department of Housing, Building, and Construction at the following address:

500 Mero Street
Frankfort, Kentucky

Kentucky HVAC license exam

Kentucky has two HVAC exams, one for the journeyman license and one for the master contractor license. These exams are administered by the DHBC’s testing vendor, Prov. 

Exam Info
Journeyman HVAC Mechanic• 3 hours to write
• 60 questions
• Minimum score of 70%
Master HVAC Contractor• 4 hours to write
• 100 questions
• Minimum score of 70%

Here are the main subject areas you need to know about for each of the exams: 

  • General knowledge
  • Systems and sizing
  • Equipment
  • Piping
  • Refrigeration systems
  • Electrical
  • Maintenance
  • Plan reading, estimating, and math
  • Law and administration

For more information on either of the exams, you can check out Prov’s candidate information bulletin

Does Kentucky reciprocate HVAC licenses?

Reciprocity agreements let out-of-state license holders apply directly for a license without having to go through the entire process. 

While Kentucky doesn’t have a formal HVAC reciprocity application, the state law does outline that out-of-state contractors can qualify for journeyman and master HVAC licensing if the state where they hold their license has experience requirements “substantially equal to or greater than those in [Kentucky].” 

The experience requirements section of the HVAC law also outlines that out-of-state applicants need to demonstrate proof of the following work experience minimums: 

  • Journeyman: four years of experience doing HVAC work
  • Master: five years of experience doing master-level HVAC work

For more information on reciprocity in Kentucky, you can review this page from the legislature. 

How much is an HVAC license in Kentucky?

The DHBC’s process for determining fees differs from most other states, as the application cost is pro-rated depending on when you apply. If you’re looking to get your full HVAC license in Kentucky, you can expect to pay between $255 and $530, depending on your date of birth and when you submit your applications. 

Licensing stageFees
Initial Application (Journeyman)$29.17-$75 depending on birth and application month
Initial Application (Master)$145.83-$375 depending on birth and application month
Exam$80 (per exam)
Renewal (Journeyman)$50
Renewal (Master)$250 
Late Renewal (Journeyman)$75
Late Renewal (Master)$450

You can find the full application fee charts in the journeyman and master license applications.

It’s important to note that there are also fees associated with the insurance requirements that you need to meet in order to become fully licensed.

Kentucky HVAC license renewal

In Kentucky, your initial license is valid for 7-18 months, depending on your birth month and application month. 

After your initial license period, you will renew your journeyman or master license annually by the last day of your birth month. This can either be done through the online portal or by filling out a physical renewal form and submitting it to the DHBC. 

You will be eligible to renew your license up until 60 days past its expiration date. If you miss the late renewal period, you will need to reactivate your license by paying the renewal fee plus a reinstatement fee for each year the license has been expired. 

The state of Kentucky requires all license and certificate holders, including HVAC mechanics, to fulfill a continuing education requirement before renewal. You need to take at least six hours of continuing education regardless of the license type. 

You can find out more about these courses on the DHBC’s Continuing Education page.

What happens if my HVAC license expires? 

If you think your Kentucky HVAC license is expired, you need to stop all work immediately, or else you open yourself up to penalties, fees, and legal action. Performing HVAC work without a license is a Class A misdemeanor, with each violation counting as a separate offense.

You can then use the Kentucky government’s eServices portal to verify whether the license is expired or not. From there, you just need to fill out your renewal form and pay any necessary late fees. 

How to start an HVAC business in Kentucky

Once you have your certified or registered HVAC license and have built up some experience, you’re ready to take the next step: starting your own HVAC business in Kentucky. The state government has a one-stop page that explains all the steps for starting a business in Kentucky, including:

  1. Choosing a business name and finding a structure
  2. Registering your business
  3. Getting your state and federal tax numbers
  4. Meeting any additional insurance requirements
  5. Securing the necessary licenses and permits for your area
  6. Learning your responsibilities as an employer
  7. Identify any other regulations

Once you’ve met the Kentucky business requirements, there are some practical steps to starting an HVAC business that you’ll also want to consider—like pricing HVAC jobs, finding the necessary equipment, and setting up your HVAC business software

Does an HVAC license in Kentucky increase your earning potential? 

Yes, getting an HVAC license in Kentucky definitely increases your earning potential. It allows you to start taking on projects in a regulated industry that’s increasing in demand across the country. 

When you first get into the industry, you can expect to make a salary of around $31,000. But that quickly jumps to around $43,000 once you’ve got more experience, and you stand to earn even more as a master HVAC contractor or if you open your own business. 

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