Pennsylvania differs from most states when it comes to HVAC contractor licensing. While the state does not issue licenses, it does require contractors to register. Each individual city may specify its own licensing regulations. To become an HVAC technician, you will still need the necessary education and experience. This guide explains what you need to know about HVAC licensing in Pennsylvania.
Who Needs an HVAC License?
Currently, Pennsylvania doesn’t license contractors at the state level. Technicians, contractors, and apprentices performing HVAC work do not need a state license. However, several municipalities have set their own licensing requirements. These vary from city to city:
Except for Pittsburgh, most cities do not specifically license contractors performing HVAC work. Instead, HVAC contractors must either obtain home improvement or general contractor licenses. Some jurisdictions, such as Allentown, have no applicable licensing for HVAC work at all. You will need to check with each city government for specific requirements.
HVAC License Types in Pennsylvania
Since contractor licensing in Pennsylvania happens at the city level, every municipality decides what type of licenses it will issue. Altoona has an HVAC license for companies that only work on heating and cooling systems. Contractors with this license cannot do electric or plumbing work.
Pittsburgh offers a Mechanical/HVAC trade license that allows businesses to work on heating and cooling systems within the city. You should check with your jurisdiction for its specific guidelines.
Pennsylvania HVAC License Requirements
While Pennsylvania does not issue contractor licenses, it does require registration for home improvement contractors. The state’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act mandates registration with the Attorney General’s Office. Pennsylvania allows home improvement contractors to register online, but they also have the option to send in paper applications.
After completing registration, each applicant receives a Pennsylvania Home Improvement Contractor number. State law mandates that contractors must include their PAHIC numbers in all advertising, estimates, proposals, and contracts. People and businesses performing HVAC work must also comply with HICPA regulations.
Violations can result in civil and criminal penalties, but the state can also render offending businesses’ contracts null and void.
At this time, background checks are not required for contractor registration. Both the online and paper applications do ask for background information: previous bankruptcies, civil judgments, felony charges, or contractor license suspensions. Be sure to complete the application with accurate details.
Under the HICPA, all home improvement contractors must also submit proof of insurance coverage. Pennsylvania mandates two basic types of coverage:
- Personal injury/liability, minimum $50,000
- Property damage, minimum $50,000
Contractors also have the option to register as self-insured, which requires the completion of a self-insurance certificate of coverage and attestation. This certificate must be signed by both the contractor and the organization providing self-insurance. The completed form must be attached to the contractor’s registration application and submitted via U.S. postal mail.
If registering as self-insured, a contractor must provide certain details about the self-insurance organization: contact information, the number of members, total number insured, years of operation, and the individual in charge of handling claims against insured parties.
City-Specific Insurance Regulations
Some cities have specific insurance regulations for HVAC and general contractors. Philadelphia mandates $500,000 general liability coverage plus $300,000 automobile liability insurance and worker’s compensation: $100,000 per accident and $100,000 per employee.
Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
Pennsylvania HVAC Licensing and Registration Fees
Pennsylvania contractors must pay a $50 non-refundable fee when registering with the state as home improvement contractors. If applying by mail, this fee can be paid by check or money order. Online registrants pay this fee plus a $1.28 processing charge via credit or debit card.
Each jurisdiction has its own fees for the general contractor, home improvement, or HVAC licenses. Pittsburgh’s HVAC trade license fees change every year, so you should check the current fee schedule before applying. Currently, the city charges $80 annually. Altoona mandates a city contractor’s license for any HVAC technicians offering services to commercial customers. Altoona’s license application fee is $50.
Pennsylvania state and city licensing/registration fees are accurate at the time this guide was written. Nevertheless, keep in mind that they may change at any time. Check with your jurisdiction for additional details.
Pennsylvania HVAC License Education Requirements and Exam
Pennsylvania does not have statewide education or exam requirements for HVAC contractors. Individual cities set their own examination and educational guidelines. With a wide range of classroom and online education programs for HVAC technicians, you can easily obtain the training you need.
HVAC License Exam Details
HVAC license testing requirements differ by jurisdiction. Pittsburgh applicants must schedule and pass an International Code Council’s contractor/trades exam, which is proctored by Pearson Vue. While most ICC trade exams are open-book, candidates are strongly encouraged to gain knowledge and proficiency prior to their testing time.
The ICC issues an information bulletin for Pennsylvania contractor/trades exam candidates. You’ll also want to review the ICC exam catalog for additional details. You’ll need to register for the exam through Pearson Vue. You have two options for taking the exam — the PRONTO online testing system or in-person at one of many area testing centers:
- Pearson Professional Centers Pittsburgh East, 1500 Ardmore Road Suite 401, Pittsburgh, PA 15221
- Pearson Professional Centers Pittsburgh West, 2 Penn Center Boulevard Suite 109 Building 2, Pittsburgh, PA 15276
- Pearson Professional Centers Washington, 95 West Beau Street Suite 106, Washington, PA 15301
- Pearson Professional Centers Philadelphia, 1800 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, Suite 1001, Philadelphia, PA 19103
- Delaware Community College, 901 South Media Line Road, Academic Building Room 4260, Media, PA 19063
- Pearson Professional Centers Blue Bell, 1777 Sentry Parkway West Building 14 Suite 303, Blue Bell, PA 19422
- Pearson Professional Centers Allentown, 5100 West Tilghman Street Suite B-30, Allentown, PA 18104
- Pearson Professional Centers Scranton, 330 Montage Mountain Road, Suite 102, Scranton, PA 18507
Several more testing centers are located throughout the state. You can search the Pearson Vue website for the closest one near you.
HVAC Training Schools in Pennsylvania
Prospective HVAC contractors have many options for career education in the Keystone State and can get started on this career path with relative ease. Many trade schools, community colleges, and educational institutes offer specialized HVAC training in Pennsylvania:
- Pennsylvania College of Technology, Williamsport, PA (570) 320-2400
- Orleans Technical College, Philadelphia, PA (215) 728-4700
- Rosedale Technical College, Pittsburgh, PA (800) 521-6262
- Pennco Tech, Bristol, PA (215) 785-0111
- Lancaster County and Technical Center, Willow Street, PA (717) 464-7050
- All-State Career, Essington, PA (855) 834-4580
- Penn Commercial Business/Technical, Washington, PA (724) 222-5330
- Berks Career and Technology Center, Leesport, PA (610) 374-4073
- West Montgomery Career and Tech Center, Limerick, PA (724) 222-5330
- New Castle School of Trades, New Castle, PA (800) 837-8299
Great HVAC training can be found both in-person and online. Use our tool below to find additional programs near you.
Pennsylvania License Application
Pennsylvania HVAC contractors must register with the state and obtain applicable licenses for the jurisdictions in which they do business. See the “Pennsylvania HVAC Licensing and Registration Fees” section for additional information.
Registration and Permitting Requirements
Depending on where you’re doing business, you may need to obtain a separate business license from the Pennsylvania city in question. For instance, Philadelphia requires a Commercial Activity License in addition to state registration and a city contractor’s license.
Pennsylvania home improvement contractor registrations are valid for two years. You may use the same application for initial registrations and renewals. Cities with the general contractor and HVAC technician licensing set their own renewal process and requirements.
For example, HVAC licenses in Pittsburgh expire one year from the date of issue. Pittsburgh contractors must also earn 8 continuing education credits prior to renewal. Visit each city government’s website for more information.
HVAC Registered Contractor Requirements in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania only registers home improvement contractors at the state level. PAHIC registration is not the same as licensing and should not be referred to as such. Refer to the “Pennsylvania HVAC Licensing and Registration Fees” section for full details.
EPA Certification in Pennsylvania
Contractors working with stationary air conditioning and refrigeration systems must obtain certification per Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. To meet this requirement, you must pass an EPA-approved exam. The test you will take varies according to the kinds of equipment you service. You will need to take the exam from an EPA-approved certifying organization.
After receipt, Section 608 Technician Certifications do not expire. Pennsylvania cities’ HVAC licenses usually include both general HVAC work and refrigerant usage. However, you should confirm specifics with your local city government.
HVAC License Pennsylvania FAQ
How Long Is My Pennsylvania HVAC License Valid?
Pennsylvania does not license contractors at the state level. Home improvement contractor registrations remain active for two years. For city-specific HVAC and general contractor licensing periods, check with your local government offices.
Can I Use My Pennsylvania HVAC License in the Other States?
Most states mandate licensing for HVAC contractors. Since Pennsylvania does not, you will need to obtain a license in each state you plan to offer services.
Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
Pennsylvania contractors can contact the Attorney General’s office regarding home improvement contractor registration. You can reach the office at (717) 787-3391. For questions about cities’ business and contractor license procedures, contact each jurisdiction’s government offices directly.
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 Pennsylvania, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: