Not all states requires an HVAC contractor to have a license, but South Carolina does. In addition, the Municipal Association of South Carolina offers certification for HVAC mechanics. This helps to cover any county or city regulations.
After apprenticing or attending a vocational school, you can get started right away as a tech. When you’re ready to advance, you can become a journeyman and master. And if you decide to be a contractor, you will need to undergo the state’s official licensing process. This process includes both business knowledge and HVAC-related requirements.
The average salary for technicians is $39K per year in South Carolina. But how do techs move up in the industry from there? This article will serve as a guide to the certification and licensing process in South Carolina
HVAC Certification from the Municipal Association of South Carolina
Certification through the Municipal Association helps make sure you can work in almost any area of the state. So it may be a great idea to pursue this certification as you are eligible - it will definitely make life easier for you!
This certification requires experience, an application and testing. There are three levels of certification:
- Residential HVAC
- Journeyman Unlimited
- HARV (master mechanical)
With residential HVAC certification, you can work on residential equipment such as heat pump and AC equipment, LP and natural gas, including fuel oil and appliances and piping; and ductwork and related trades.
As a journeyman you can work on units of any size related to the installation, maintenance, repair, fabrication alteration or extension of AC, refrigeration, piping vessels, warm air heating, low-pressure boilers, ventilation systems, duct systems, and related parts of a complex system. You must work under the supervision of a master or contractor.
A master mechanical certification includes everything under journeyman, without the requirement of supervision.
To get certified as a journeyman, you must have two full years of experience. If you completed a two-year vocational program in this area, that can count as a year.
To become a master, you must have four years experiencing as a journeyman. Alternately, if you have ten full years of experience but have not been certified as a journeyman, you can directly proceed to master’s level.
EPA certification is a necessity for both of these. Prov is the name of the organization that handles exams for South Carolina. You make arrangements for testing only after your application to MASC is approved.
There is a $25 application fee and the form can be found on the MASC website.
HVAC Contractor Licensing Requirements for South Carolina
To get your license as a Residential HVAC contractor in South Carolina there are general requirements you will need to meet, an application process, and in some cases an exam.
The license allows contractors to work on residential systems only. It covers A/C, heat pump equipment, LP & Natural Gas, Fuel Oil appliances, piping, ductwork, and other HVAC related trades.
General Requirements for Eligibility
Here’s a list of all the requirements you need to meet for the HVAC contractors’ license:
- 1 year of experience under the direct supervision of a Master Heating & Air or licensed HVAC contractor
- A letter written on company letterhead from your employer to prove your experience
- A properly-filed application to the Board
- A photocopy of your current driver’s license and social security card to the Residential Builders Commission
- A check for $100 to process the application made payable to the LLR-Residential Builders Commission. Include it with the copies of identification mentioned above
- A passing grade on the PSI exam. You can forgo taking the exam if you are already a licensed South Carolina Mechanical Contractor for HVAC or if you are a licensed Master Heating & Air licensed by exam by the Municipal Association
- A license fee and submitted test results and a bond for any work exceeding $5,000
To get started on the path to your HVAC contractor license, take these steps:
- Submit initial application
- Make a financial statement. General contractors not bidding on jobs over $100,000 or mechanical contractors not bidding on jobs over $30,000 have a separate financial balance sheet. New contractors taking on larger jobs must have an accountant prepare financials according to the application’s stipulations
- Register for your technical exam and Business Management and Law Exam with PSI. After you have registered you will receive an Eligibility Letter from the testing company.
- Schedule your exam at any state testing site
Examination Process for the SC Contractor License
Once you have scheduled your exam with PSI (contact PSI Examination services at 1-800-733-9267) after receiving your letter of eligibility after the application process, it is time to prepare for your exam. Here are the exam details you need to know:
- 80 questions to be answered within a 4-hour time limit
- a minimum score of 65% (you will need to get at least 52 questions right to pass)
- paid exam fee of $100
Exam topics include: AC and Heat Pump Equipment; Load Calculations; Insulation; Safety; Piping; Furnaces and Heaters; Heating and Cooling Principles; Hangers and Supports; Fuel Oil; Ducts; LP Gas; Testing, Adjusting and Balancing; Sound, Vibration and Seismic Control; Fuel Gas; Combustion Air; Chimneys, Flues, and Vents; Ventilation and Exhausts; Refrigerants and Controls.
Getting Your License After Passing Your Exam
After passing your exam you must submit the following paperwork to the state’s Contractor’s Licensing Board:
- Your completed application (Doc #165)
- Your exam score sheets for both tests
- A financial statement
- A copy of the certificate for your registered corporation, partnership or LLC if applicable
- Your license fee in the amount of $160 if the license is issued for more than 12 months before the next renewal date. If it is less than 12 months the fee is only $80
- A $10,000 surety bond signed by the applicant with the power of attorney attached. If you plan on taking on work over $5000 in cost labor and materials included, the bond has to be issued in the individual applicant’s name and not in the name of the company or LLC
The license is renewable every 2 years before June 30th of each odd-numbered year
National EPA Certification Requirements
Section 608 of the Clean Air Act requires that HVAC techs who work with any refrigerant related equipment that is liable to release harmful contents into the atmosphere must be certified. Here are the general requirements:
- Pick a certification type
- Pass the EPA test to get your Section 608 Tech Certification
- Pay your $24.95 certification fee
- Schedule and take an exam (this can be done online)
There are 3 EPA Certification Types:
EPA Section 608 HVAC Type I certifies techs to work on small appliances containing five pounds of less of refrigerant.
EPA Section 608 HVAC Type II allows techs to work with high- and very high-pressure appliances, including non-automotive systems and split systems.
EPA Section 608 HVAC Type III certification permits techs to work on low-pressure appliances
Finally, the EPA Section 608 Universal Certification allows the user to work on any of the above
Section 608 Certification Exam
There is a standard 12-page manual techs use to prepare for the test.
For the Type I, the exam is open-book, but the passing grade is 84% for each section and the core questions must be repeated in a proctored environment if other certifications are pursued later on. It might be easiest to find a test site and take a proctored exam the first time you test.
If you fail your test on the first attempt you can take it again as soon as you would like, but it will cost $5.95 for each additional attempt
Here are some topics covered on the core of the exam: ozone depletion, clean air act, 608 regulations, substitute refrigerants, refrigeration, recovery techniques, recovery, recycling, safety, dehydration evacuation, and shipping.
To help you succeed at taking the EPA 608 exam, I have created a practice exam for all pf the various types of the 608. If you are interested, check out the practice tests below:
Taking the steps to get certified as an HVAC technician, or licensed as a contraction, helps to expand your possibilities within the field, which can only lead to higher salaries and professional recognition. With minimal applications, exams, and fees you can start pushing your career to its limits.
The HVAC job market is only due to expand, creating higher demand and with it a bigger payoff. Start investigating your options for certification in South Carolina today!