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15 Easy Steps to Become an HVAC Contractor in North Carolina


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Getting into a trade can be a lengthy process but it’s equally rewarding. The HVAC marketing is currently booming and a positive growth is being seen. According to a research report by MRFR, the market size of commercial HVAC is projected to be worth USD 142.97 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 6.86% during the forecast period (2021 - 2027).


In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak created a negative effect on the commercial HVAC market as the sales rapidly declined. Now that the world economy is recovering, we can expect all industries to go back to working at full capacity, especially the construction industry. Because of this, many companies have started hiring commercial technicians at good salaries and great benefits like healthcare, salary increments and stable work hours. Therefore, there are a lot of job opportunities right now, including the chance to own your own business. Once you learn a trade like HVAC, you will have a career with job security especially if you’re in the commercial side.


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Is having a License in North Carolina really important?

Yes, it is mandatory to comply with North Carolina’s state rules and get a HVAC license to become a technician. Without the license, you are not eligible to perform any HVAC work. You will also need special certifications if you want to handle HVAC projects with commercial refrigeration units. The license with the special certification are some of the requirements you meet to have to run an HVAC business in North Carolina.

The State Board of Refrigeration Contractors licenses the commercial, industrial and transport refrigeration contracting.

The North Carolina State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors licenses all heating and air conditioning contractors.


What Are The Basic Types Of The HVAC Licenses?

There are two main categories of HVAC licenses:

  1. the heating and cooling licenses

  2. refrigeration contractor licenses.

A refrigeration license allows the contractor to work only on commercial refrigeration or HVAC units. The second category is further divided into three primary groups: H1, H2, and H3. You have the liberty to choose either the technician license or contractor license in each of these categories.

Obtaining a contractor license is crucial if you want to operate your own HVAC business. Each license group has its own benefits.

H1 license: Allows you to operate water-based systems in buildings.

H2 license: Allows you to handle forced air heating and cooling systems that exceed 15 tons.

H3 license: Allows you to work on a forced-air heating and cooling unit whose weight is less than fifteen tons.

As you progress and have more certifications, your salary prospects increase exponentially.


HVAC Licenses are broken down into two classes in North Carolina:

Class 1: Allows you to work in any home or building.

Class 2: Allows you to work in single-family homes only.



North Carolina HVAC H1 License

H1 license is the first type of license for heating and cooling. This license is for water-based heating systems found in residential, commercial, and industrial buildings. The H1 classification is divided into Class 1 and Class 2 levels. The Class 1 level of licensure permits HVAC professionals to work in any home or building and the Class 2 license allows HVAC professionals to to only work in single-family homes.


North Carolina HVAC H2 License

The H2 license is the second type of license for heating and cooling in North Carolina which permits HVAC professionals to work with forced air heating and cooling for units over 15 tons.


North Carolina HVAC H3 License

The H3 license is the second type of license for heating and cooling in North Carolina which limits HVAC professionals to working with forced air heating and cooling on units under 15 tons. Just like H1, H3 is also divided into Class 1 and Class 2. The Class 1 level of licensure permits HVAC professionals to work in any home or building and the Class 2 license allows HVAC professionals to to only work in single-family homes.


So, the license designations are as follows:


Heating Group 1 – water-based heating systems in any building.


  1. H1-I (Heating Group 1 Class I) Contractor

  2. H1-II (Heating Group 1 Class II) Contractor

  3. H1-T (Heating Group 1) Technician (Has to be a sublicensee of an H1 Contractor. Not a contracting license.)

  4. SLGT-H1 (Heating Group 1 State & Local Government) Technician (Has to be an employee of a state or local government. Not a contracting license.)

  5. PEIT-H1 (Heating Group 1 Private Education Institution) Technician (Has to be an employee of a private educational institution. Not a contracting license.)


Heating Group 2 – forced air heating and cooling units that weigh more than 15 tons.


  1. H2 (Heating Group 2) Contractor

  2. H2-T (Heating Group 2) Technician (Has to be a sublicensee of an H2 Contractor. Not a contracting license.)

  3. SLGT-H2 (Heating Group 2 State & Local Government) Technician (Has to be an employee of a state or local government. Not a contracting license.)

  4. PEIT-H2 (Heating Group 2 Private Education Institution) Technician (Has to be an employee of a private educational institution. Not a contracting license. )


Heating Group 3 - forced air heating and cooling units that weigh 15 tons or less.


  1. H3-I (Heating Group 3 Class I) Contractor

  2. H3-II (Heating Group 3 Class II) Contractor

  3. H3-T (Heating Group 3) Technician (Has to be a sublicensee of an H3 Contractor. Not a contracting license.)

  4. SLGT-H3 (Heating Group 3 State & Local Government) Technician (Has to be an employee of a state or local government. Not a contracting license.)

  5. PEIT-H3 (Heating Group 3 Private Education Institution) Technician (Has to be an employee of a private educational institution. Not a contracting license.)



North Carolina HVAC License Exam Requirements

HVAC License Exam Requirements in North Carolina region are as follows:

  1. To become a Contractor, an HVAC professional must have a minimum of 2 years of full-time HVAC work experience.

  2. If a candidate wants to appear for the technician’s exam, a minimum of 18 months of full-time HVAC work experience is required.

  3. If a candidate has academic credit in the field of HVAC, they can use up to 2000 hours to cover the required work experience

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What Is The Cost Of Obtaining A North Carolina HVAC License?

Each type of HVAC license has different price ranges in North Carolina so what you have to pay will depend on the type of license you want to obtain. The License free range is from $65-$130.


What Are The Benefits Of Obtaining An HVAC License In North Carolina?

Having an HVAC license makes you eligible to take up and have flexibility of job diversity in the HVAC field. A trade license is legal proof of your experience and skill. Not just legally, you will also find yourself to be more prepared to solve any problem you might find on the field.

It is a fact that HVAC technicians who are licensed have a better earning potential and gives you a level up or competitive advantage in the job market. This is especially relevant now because there’s a rising demand for HVAC technicians due to people’s increased need for comfortable homes and commercial spaces.


As an HVAC technician, you will significantly help making our earth a better place and protecting the environment through the work you do. By installing new heat pumps and transiting from old filters to newer ones, you will reduce the environmental impacts. And as a contractor with an HVAC license you will have the opportunity to hire the best technicians in North Carolina.

There’s also a great level of satisfaction that comes with the job as you know you're making a difference and positively impacting other people’s lives.


Steps to Get an HVAC License in North Carolina

  1. You need a formal HVAC diploma or attend a certificate program or earn a two-year degree

  2. You can become an apprentice which you can get through a local union or trade organization. You can also do informal apprenticeship through an employer as an entry-level worker supervised by a licensed contractor.

  3. After learning the trade of your choice through professional classroom training and job experience for the required amount of time, you can apply to take the examination for one of the three technician licenses. You can only take the exam of the Group and Class for which you have met the eligibility criteria. To be eligible, make sure you have 3,000 hours (18 months) of full-time job experience in the HVAC systems and related fields in which you want to be licensed.

  4. Fill out the application form and before submitting the application make sure that signatures are notarized.

  5. Make sure you get a thorough background check information from an approved provider.

  6. Submit the application with all the required documents and fee to the Board's office.

  7. If there is a problem with your application and it is denied or requires some additional information, you will be notified by the authorities. If your application is approved, you will receive conformation by mail or email.

  8. You must take the exam within 30 days of the notification date. Contact the exam provider to schedule it.

  9. You will be notified of your exam result at the exam center itself following your exam.

  10. If you fail the exam, you can attend an exam review conducted in Raleigh before giving the retest.

  11. If you pass the exam, you will be required to submit the completed Licensing Activation form and fee in order to obtain the license.

  12. If you want to become a contractor yourself and not as a technician, you will need to acquire 4,000 hours (2 years) of full-time job experience in the HVAC systems and related fields to the category you wish to be licensed.

  13. However, up to one-half (2,000 hours) (45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours) of the experience requirement can be used as academic or technical training directly related to the category for the license you want.

  14. Repeat the process for your contractor’s license.

  15. To be qualified to take a test for any of the Refrigeration Contractor’s Licenses, you have to have up to 4,000 hours of full time job experience in a related field under the supervision of a professional who holds a valid refrigeration contractor’s license. Up to one-half of 4000 hours of full time job experience can be in academic or technical training.

How much does HVAC or refrigeration training cost?

It depends on the schools you choose to do your course from. On an average, it costs somewhere between $500 to $2000.


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At the end of the day, people will always need to be comfortable in their homes and office spaces. HVAC is a field that isn’t going away any time soon. It will continue to exist and grow in the future with many new roles. Sure, the roles might not be easy, you might not have the time to sit at your desk. But on the bright side, HVAC eliminates monotony. There will always be something new and different to do.

We hope we've made your Licensing process a little easier and that you found some great insights. If you did, please Like, Comment and Share this article!


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