The state of Minnesota may not have official HVAC license requirements for contractors, but many large cities in the state do. This guide shows you how to get an HVAC license in Minnesota and where.
Who Needs an HVAC License?
At the state level, it’s not required for HVAC contractors to have any kind of technician, journeyman, or master mechanical license in Minnesota. Instead, the state of Minnesota requires HVAC businesses to have a mechanical contractor bond for $25,000 filed with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
This mechanical bond requirement applies to any businesses that carry out work related to air conditioning, ventilation, refrigeration, heating, cooling, fuel-burning systems, or gas. Note that even though HVAC certification isn’t required by the state, many businesses, property managers, and homeowners prefer to hire HVAC contractors who are fully licensed and insured.
In addition, some city governments have licensing requirements for HVAC businesses. Minneapolis and St. Paul both require mechanical contractors to obtain a certificate of competency or a trade license to perform work in the Twin Cities. St. Cloud has its own certificate of competency application.
HVAC License Types in Minnesota
It’s important to check the Minnesota HVAC license requirements of the city or county where your business performs work. In Minneapolis and St. Paul, it’s possible to obtain a journeyperson-level or master-level certificate of competency. This certificate is needed to obtain a trade license.
Minneapolis mechanical contractor licenses are divided into the following categories:
- Refrigeration systems installer: Required to install or repair residential or commercial refrigeration systems
- Gas fitter: Required to install or repair residential and commercial gas-burning equipment
- Oil burner installer: Required to install or repair systems for oil burning
- HVAC class A: Required to install, repair, or clean air circulation systems and air handlers
- HVAC class B: Required to clean ductwork, exhaust systems, and air circulation systems
- Steam and hot water systems installer: Required to install, repair or maintain steam piping for heating or cooling for residential and commercial applications
Many HVAC businesses handle tasks that fall into several of these categories. In those cases, contractors can apply for a combined trades license. The respective competency card is required for each specialization indicated.
Minnesota HVAC License Requirements
In Minnesota, the requirements for obtaining an HVAC-related competency card and trade license depend on the city where you’re applying. You need to meet the following requirements to obtain a journeyperson HVAC license in Minneapolis or St. Paul:
- Four years of trade-related training or schooling (equivalent to 576 hours)
- Four years of experience on the job or apprenticeship in related trade
- Proof of completion of the apprenticeship
- Voucher signed by a licensed master HVAC contractor
- Application for competency card exam
- Successful completion of the exam
Documentation is required for proving work experience and training, such as employment letters, university transcripts, or trade school diplomas. For a master HVAC license, you need further work experience in addition to the above:
- One year as a licensed journeyperson in HVAC-related trade
- Two signatures (notarized) from master HVAC contractors
- Completed application for comp card exam
- Passing score on master-level trade exam
The Twin Cities have a reciprocal comp card arrangement. This means you can obtain your card in either city and receive a corresponding certificate immediately in the other.
All employers in Minnesota are legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance unless they obtain permission from the Minnesota Department of Commerce to self-insure for this purpose. Cities such as Minneapolis and St. Paul have additional liability insurance requirements.
In Minneapolis, HVAC contractors must show proof of insurance coverage of $300,000 for property damage and $100,000/$300,000 for injuries. In St. Paul, liability insurance must cover at least $500,000 injury/property damage combined.
Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
Minnesota HVAC Licensing and Registration Fees
Minneapolis does not charge a fee for the competency card application, but there are several fees for obtaining a license once you’ve passed the exam. All HVAC-related trades must pay a $280 license fee and a $135.00 processing fee per license specialization. In other words, a combined license covering (1) HVAC type A; (2) refrigeration installer, and (3) steam/hot water installer would cost $840 + $405 total.
In St. Paul, submitting a comp card application costs $55 for journeyperson exams and $82.50 for master exams. These fees are nonrefundable and payable only by check. Send the application and check to the Department of Safety and Inspections, 375 Jackson St., Suite 220, St. Paul, MN 55101-1806. Renewal fees for comp cards must be paid each year of $33 or $64 depending on the length of time certified. The annual license fee for trades is $168.
No background check is needed for licensing, but contractors must provide a tax ID number, SSN (or ITIN), and other information. Note: Fee information is accurate at the time of writing but subjects to change.
Minnesota HVAC License Education Requirements and Exam
In the city of Minneapolis, competency card applicants must show proof of at minimum four years of trade education. This requires 144 hours of instruction per year or 576 hours total. These education requirements are in addition to the four years of on-the-job training (1,600 hours worked per year) or voluntary apprenticeship also required.
Instruction can include classroom training, online schooling, university/trade school programs, and employer-sponsored education. Minnesota has many good online and in-person training programs that can help prepare someone interested in an HVAC career.
The city of St. Paul has identical education requirements with one exception: Applicants can also take the competency certificate test if they can show at least seven years of on-the-job training in the HVAC specialization.
HVAC License Exam Details
Taking the exam for a competency certificate depends on the city where you’re applying. In Minneapolis, the process is as follows:
- Fill out the comp card application: Include proof of education and apprenticeship, such as transcripts, certifications, and employment letters.
- Mail or drop off the application: The Competency Card Office is located at the Public Service Building, 505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 220, Minneapolis, MN 55415.
- Wait for your approval letter: If you meet the requirements, you will receive an authorization letter to schedule the exam.
- Follow the instructions: The exam is handled by Pearson VUE. Once you receive your authorization letter, you can go to the Pearson VUE website and create an account with the ICC ID number you received in the authorization letter. Next, select the exam, choose a testing location and schedule your testing date.
- Complete the exam: Pearson VUE testing sites administer computer-based exams. The exam length depends on the journeyperson or master license you select. A passing score is 70% for journeyperson and 75% for master HVAC licenses.
The City of Minneapolis has also prepared a helpful bulletin with additional information and links about the HVAC license exam. If applicants fail the test, they can retake it after 60 days.
HVAC Training Schools in Minnesota
Minnesota has a large number of trade schools and colleges with HVAC programs. Specializations include heating, cooling, refrigeration, and system design.
- Hennepin Technical College: Brooklyn Park, MN, (952) 995-1300
- St. Cloud Technical & Community College: St. Cloud, MN, (320) 308-5000
- Northwest Technical College: Bemidji, MN, (218) 333-6600
- Dakota County Technical College: Rosemount, MN, (651) 423-8000
- Dunwoody College of Technology: Minneapolis, MN, (612) 374-5800
- Minneapolis Community & Technical College: Minneapolis, MN, (612) 659-6000
- Century College: White Bear Lake, MN, (651) 779-3300
- Minnesota State Community and Technical College: Fergus Falls, MN, (877) 450-3322
- Minnesota State College Southeast: Red Wing or Winona, MN, (877) 853-8324
- South Central College: North Mankato, MN, (507) 389-7200
Great HVAC training can be found both in-person and online. Use our tool below to find additional programs near you.
Minnesota License Application
Each city that requires a certificate of competency also has a license application for obtaining registration in your desired HVAC trade. Consult local requirements at your city hall in case of questions. In Minneapolis, contractors are required to fill out a specific application from a list for HVAC-A, refrigeration systems, gas systems and other specializations. The city of St. Paul uses a single Building Trades Business License Application form regardless of the HVAC-related trade.
Before filling out the form, take the time to gather the necessary support documentation:
- Certificate of compliance for workers’ compensation insurance
- $25,000 bond with the state of Minnesota
- Copy of liability insurance certificate
- Minneapolis or St. Paul master competency card
The trade license is provided to businesses. This means comp card requirements may be met by different members of your team. On the application, but the full name and competency certificate number of each master for the trade license(s) you’re applying for. Provide other details about your business, including the scope of the work your company will be performing.
Registration and Permitting Requirements
To qualify for a competency card, required education and apprenticeship must be on a fairly continual basis. In Minneapolis, the education requirements of 576 hours must be met within the five years previous to taking the exam.
All HVAC trade licenses in the Twin Cities must be renewed annually. It’s important to check up-to-date ordinances for the date of renewal in each city. In St. Paul, as of the time of writing, trade licenses expire on December 1st each year regardless of the date the license was issued. Certificates of competency expire on December 31st.
Comp cards that are expired can still be renewed after paying a late fee of $5.00 (up to 90 days) or $15.00 (past 90 days). Once the certificate has been expired over a year, it’s necessary to retake the qualification exam.
HVAC Registered Contractor Requirements in Minnesota
HVAC businesses can benefit from a registered contractor license in Minnesota, but they’re not required to obtain one unless their work involves residential remodeling or construction. Even if some drywall work or taping is required for installing ductwork, it’s not automatically necessary for businesses to hold a registered contractor license unless they also perform other special skills.
For HVAC work in Minneapolis or St. Paul that involves both gas and plumbing techniques, contractors must hold a state plumbing contractor license in addition to the appropriate Twin Cities trade license. Plumbing or restricted plumbing licenses require 16 hours of continuing education every two years related to the Minnesota State Building Code and other state plumbing statutes.
EPA Certification in Minnesota
Both the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency require HVAC contractors working with refrigerants to pass the EPA Section 608 technician certification test. These state and federal requirements apply to all personnel (aside from supervised apprentices) who repair, install, maintain or dispose of equipment that uses refrigerant.
The EPA maintains a list of training programs with national testing centers and online testing options. There are four levels of certification, ranging from small appliances only (Type I) to all residential and commercial refrigeration equipment (Universal).
HVAC License Minnesota FAQ
Find the answers to several frequently asked questions about Minnesota HVAC license requirements.
How Long Is My Minnesota HVAC License Valid?
An HVAC license for Minnesota in most cities lasts for one year. Both competency cards and HVAC trade licenses require annual renewal. The cost of renewal varies by city.
Can I Use My Minnesota HVAC License in the Other States?
As the state of Minnesota doesn’t have official HVAC license requirements, it’s not possible for HVAC businesses to operate in other states that require certification. That said, the years of education, apprenticeship and experience journeyperson or master-level HVAC contractors accrue while certified in Minneapolis, St. Paul or other cities can often allow contractors to take the HVAC license exam in other states more quickly.
Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
For questions related to the Minnesota contractor bond, you can contact the DLI at (651) 284-5034 or [email protected]. For local assistance with how to get an HVAC license in Minnesota, contact the Business Licenses & Consumer Services office in Minneapolis at (612) 673-2080 or [email protected]. In St. Paul, you can get assistance with HVAC licenses by calling (651) 266-8989.
For More License and Career Guides
To find out how to become an HVAC-R technician in another state, start here.
For information on other trades in Minnesota, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: