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Texas HVAC License: How to Get Certified as an HVAC Contractor in TX

November 8, 2022 9 min. read
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Thinking about getting your Texas HVAC license? That’s not a bad idea considering statistics like these:

It’s an exciting time to become an HVAC contractor. There’s never been higher demand, and the job supply is on course to outpace available talent. With an industry trajectory like that, you’ll never run out of work—which means job security won’t be a concern.

But you’ll need to get the proper licensing before performing HVAC contract work in Texas. You advance from a registered technician all the way to a Class A Contractor, with a few steps in between.

Fortunately, you don’t have to dig through a bunch of government websites and PDFs to find the answers you need—we have everything you need right here in this Texas HVAC licensing guide:

Bookmark this page and check back whenever you have a question. We promise this resource can help you find answers faster than Google—and that’s saying something.

Do you need a license to be an HVAC contractor in Texas?

Yes, you must be a licensed HVAC contractor to perform heating, ventilation, and air conditioning work in Texas.

The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR) is responsible for issuing licenses in The Lone Star State. Your level of involvement and the nature of the project determine which license or qualification you need:

  • Registered Technician: May assist a licensed air conditioning and refrigeration (ACR) contractor with maintenance or repair work. Must work under the direct supervision of the licensed contractor and can’t advertise or perform services independently.
  • Certified Technician: Voluntary qualification that shows you’ve exceeded the standards of a Registered Technician. This designation doesn’t provide any additional work freedoms—you must still work under the supervision of a licensed contractor. However, it shows that you’ve obtained at least 24 months of on-site experience with 2,000 hours of combined classroom instruction and practical experience.
  • ACR Contractor (Class B): May work on cooling systems of 25 tons and under and heating systems of 1.5 million BTUs/hour and under.
  • ACR Contractor (Class A): May work on any size unit.

Beyond HVAC licensing, the TDLR offers endorsements to perform specialized contract work. You can’t provide or perform these services until you receive the endorsement with your license:

  • Environmental Air Conditioning: May treat air to control temperature, humidity, ventilation, circulation, and cleanliness.
  • Commercial Refrigeration: May use mechanical or absorption equipment to adjust temperature or humidity to meet the needs of a specific space.
  • Process Cooling or Heating: May control temperature, cleanliness, and humidity for proper production requirements or operation of equipment.

Interested in obtaining any of these endorsements? Check the boxes on your Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License Application to apply—this will change your licensing exam and your required insurance coverage.

How do I get an HVAC license in Texas?

If you’re looking to become an HVAC contractor in Texas, there are a few steps you have to take to qualify for an HVAC license.

  1. Register with the state as a Registered Technician to start working under a licensed contractor. To obtain a license, you’ll need to complete 48 months of supervised work experience.
  2. Apply for the optional Certified Technician designation once you’ve obtained 24 months of on-the-job experience —this is not required for your contractor’s license, but it shows customers and employers that you’ve exceeded the standards of a Registered Technician.
  3. Apply for an ACR Contractor license once you’ve accrued 48 months of work experience. Apply for your ACR license by completing the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractor License Application and paying the required fee.
  4. Take the licensing exam after the TDLR has reviewed and approved your application.
  5. Submit a Certificate of Insurance via email to the TDLR after you pass the exam (or you can waive this requirement if you work for another contractor). Once you submit this, you’ll receive your ACR Contractor license.

Your contractor’s license will allow you to operate independently and start your own HVAC business. Selecting the classification, Class A or B, will inform the type of work you can do, which licensing exam you’ll take, and the insurance coverage you’ll need.

The entire process of getting your ACR Contractor license in Texas takes a minimum of 4 years. However, as a registered technician, you’ll still be making a healthy income as you qualify for the licensing exam.

Texas HVAC license requirements

The TDLR requires that individuals meet one of the following qualifiers before applying for the HVAC license:

  • Accumulated 48 months of jobsite experience as a Registered Technician (working under the supervision of a licensed ACR Contractor) within the past 72 months.
  • Held certification as a technician for the last 12 months and gained 36 months of practical experience (under the supervision of a licensed ACR Contractor) within the past 48 months.

You can find this work experience by getting hired by an HVAC firm or by joining an HVAC technical program or college course. Programs like these provide education, mentorship, and opportunities for on-site experience.

The TDLR includes a few exemptions that you can use for partial credit for your contractor experience requirements:

  • 4-year degree: 4-year degrees in mechanical engineering, refrigeration engineering or technology, and air conditioning engineering or technology can be used as a substitute for 24 months of practical experience.
  • 2-year degree or certification: 2-year associate’s degrees or certification programs (primarily focused on refrigeration and air conditioning-related work) can be used as a substitute for 12 months of practical experience.
  • 1-year certification: 1-year certification programs (or programs of at least 2 semesters) in refrigeration and air conditioning-related work can be used as a substitute for 6 months of practical experience.
  • Apprenticeship program: Every 2,000 hours spent in an apprenticeship program doing on-the-job training can be used for 12 months of practical experience.
  • Licensed engineers: Licensed engineers in Texas engaging in air conditioning and refrigeration contracting can use their experience to satisfy the complete 48-month requirement.
  • Military experience: Military personnel that can verify air conditioning and refrigeration work as part of their military occupational specialty can use their experience to satisfy the complete 48-month requirement.

Once you’ve completed 48 months of on-site experience (or exemption equivalent experience), you’ll qualify for the licensing exam. Submit your application, pay the required fees, and pass the examination to obtain your ACR Contractor license.

Licensing reciprocity for other states

Texas has a reciprocity agreement with South Carolina. See the TDLR’s Licensing Reciprocity page to see how South Carolina’s licensing types translate to Texas licensing.

How much does it cost to get licensed as an HVAC contractor in Texas?

Costs to get licensed as an HVAC contractor vary depending on your schooling and apprenticeship programs. Technician certification at a technical school or community college tends to cost $1,200 to $15,000. Earning an associate’s degree in HVAC technology costs an average of $15,000 to $35,000.

While you can use education as a substitute for some of your required experience, you don’t get paid for attending school. However, time spent working on the job as a registered or certified technician will earn you hourly wages that can be used to offset the costs of earning your HVAC license.

Beyond education, here are the costs you can expect when obtaining your HVAC license in Texas:

Registered and Certified Technician fees

  • $20 Registered Technician registration fee
  • $20 annual renewal fee for Registered Technicians
  • $50 Certified Technician application fee
  • $35 annual renewal fee for Registered Technicians

ACR Contractor (Class A or B) fees

  • $115 application and exam fee
  • $65 license renewal fee
  • $25 class upgrade fee
  • $74 class upgrade re-examination fee
  • $25 to add an endorsement to an existing license

READ MORE: How to get HVAC certified

Do I need to renew my HVAC licenses?

Yes, you need to renew your HVAC license every year. Submit your renewal application online 30-60 days before your license expires to ensure you don’t lose coverage.

The TDLR requires 8 hours of approved continuing education coursework every year to renew your license, and 1 hour of this must be spent on Texas state law and rules regulating the conduct of licensees.

Search through the TDLR’s list of continuing education providers to find approved coursework that qualifies for the state’s requirement. Keep your certificates of completion from these courses for your renewal application documentation.

What happens if my HVAC license expires?

You can’t legally perform air conditioning and refrigeration contract work if your license expires. If your license has expired by 90 days or less, you can renew your license online by paying a late fee that’s 1.5 times the typical renewal fee.

If your license has expired by more than 90 days (but less than 18 months), you need to pay a renewal fee that’s 2 times the typical renewal fee.

If your license has expired by more than 18 months (but less than 3 years), you can get approval from the executive director to reinstate your license. Upon approval, your renewal fee will be 2 times the normally required renewal fee.

Requirements for business owners

The TDLR requires ACR Contractors who own their businesses to have insurance. If you’re employed by another contractor (and don’t own your own business), you are eligible for an insurance waiver—no fee required.

Submit your Certificate of Insurance to TDLR customer service to satisfy this requirement.

Insurance needs

See the TDLR’s table of Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements to determine how much insurance you need based on your license and operations:

Class A licenses

  • Per Occurrence for Property Damage and Bodily Injury: $300,000
  • Aggregate for Property Damage and Bodily Injury: $600,000
  • Aggregate for Products and Completed Operations: $300,000

Class B licenses

  • Per Occurrence for Property Damage and Bodily Injury: $100,000
  • Aggregate for Property Damage and Bodily Injury: $200,000
  • Aggregate for Products and Completed Operations: $100,000

Learn more about HVAC business insurance, types, costs, and how to get it in our quick-and-easy guide.

Does HVAC certification in Texas increase your earning potential?

Yes, and by a fair margin. HVAC technicians generally start at $36,614 per year, but senior HVAC licensed professionals make an average of $72,899—that’s a 99% wage increase.

Your experience, location, and licensing will all impact your earning potential. Certification in Texas significantly boosts your wages. With a license, you’ll be able to run your own HVAC business, present your credentials to earn customer trust, and win bigger projects.

Here’s what you can expect to make as an HVAC technician in Texas:

  • < 3 years: $35,605
  • 3-5 years: $43,515
  • 6-9 years: $48,671
  • 10-16 years: $53,683
  • 17+ years: $59,473

Curious how much you could be making as an HVAC contractor or what you need to offer to hire a team of your own? Check out our Essential HVAC Salary Guide to discover up-to-date salary information based on national averages, years of experience, job titles, and geographic location.

Use this tool to plan out your career, decide where you want to work, and stay on top of competitive rates for your team.

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