South Carolina is an excellent place to embark on a career in the heating and air conditioning industry. Chilly winters and hot summers mean there is almost always a demand for HVAC services. This resource guide will walk you through the steps of how to get an HVAC license in South Carolina so you can achieve your goals of a rewarding HVAC career.
Who Needs an HVAC License?
Anyone with the knowledge and skills to service, install and repair HVAC equipment can do so under the supervision of an appropriately licensed contractor. However, certain circumstances require you to obtain an HVAC license from one of two entities — either the State Contractor’s Licensing Board or the Residential Builder’s Commission. These include:
- Starting your own business
- Directly enter into HVAC contracts with customers
- Performing HVAC work without supervision in South Carolina
HVAC License Types in South Carolina
There are two main classifications of HVAC contractors in South Carolina. The type of buildings you work in will determine which one you need. It is essential to understand the distinctions (and apply for the correct one) since they are administered by different South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation departments.
The State Contractor’s Licensing Board issues Mechanical Contractor licenses for individuals servicing, installing, or repairing heating and cooling equipment in industrial, commercial, and residential settings. It is required for projects valued at $5,000 or more.
Residential Specialty HVAC Contractor
Anyone performing only residential HVAC work valued at over $200 should obtain a residential specialty contractor license from the South Carolina Residential Builder’s Commission. This is not a general contractor license, and you cannot enter into direct contracts with residential customers. Instead, you must subcontract to licensed building contractors.
South Carolina HVAC License Requirements
Interested individuals must meet several South Carolina HVAC license requirements to become fully licensed in the state. These include:
- Obtain required hours of work or educational experience
- Pass state business and law and subject exams
- Submit an application Doc #165
- Submit completed financial statement or surety bond information
- Pay required fee
- Submit business formation documents
HVAC contractors in South Carolina can become licensed without meeting specific insurance requirements. However, in cases where a financial statement is not provided or a contractor cannot meet minimum net worth requirements, a surety bond is required. Here are a few other types of insurance you may need when working as an HVAC technician in South Carolina:
- Liability insurance: There are two main types of liability insurance you may want or need to purchase depending on where you work in the state. For example, the City of Charleston requires both general and professional liability coverages. These cover damages to people or property that result from your work.
- Commercial auto: If you operate any vehicles for work — and most HVAC contractors do — you will need a commercial auto policy. Some cities and counties may require specific minimums, so it is wise to check with them before working in a new area.
Some policies only apply when contractors are self-employed or have others working for them. These include:
- Unemployment insurance: Companies in South Carolina with employees must maintain unemployment insurance coverage for those workers. This is done through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
- Workers’ compensation insurance: This protects workers financially if they are injured on the job. Workers’ comp coverage is required for most SC businesses with four or more employees. However, this rule has some exceptions, so contractors with employees should check with the SC Workers’ Compensation Commission to check requirements.
Use the tool below to request a free commercial insurance quote from our partners.
South Carolina HVAC Licensing and Registration Fees
Several fees are associated with obtaining a South Carolina Mechanical license through the Contractor Licensing Board. Unless noted below, these are payable by check or money order to SCCLB. You should expect to pay:
- Initial license fee: $350 (will be prorated according to date)
- Renewal fee: $135
- Business management and law exam fee: $75 (payable to PSI exams)
- Air conditioning exam fee: $60 (payable to PSI exams)
- Heating exam fee: $75 (payable to PSI exams)
There are different fees if you apply for a Residential Specialty HVAC Contractor license. Unless otherwise noted, these are payable by certified check or money order to LLR — Residential Builders Commission. Some standard fees include:
- Application processing fee: $100
- License fee: $80-$160
- Subject exam fees: $100 (payable to PSI exams)
- Business management and law exam fee: $75 (payable to PSI exams)
All fees are current as of the time of writing but are subject to change. Updates fees are available from the South Carolina Labor Licensing Board.
South Carolina HVAC license requirements do not include a background check; however, you will be asked about the prior activity. You will have an opportunity to explain any “Yes” answers on a separate form.
South Carolina HVAC License Education Requirements and Exam
If you are fortunate enough to find an employer willing to train you from scratch, you do not need any formal educational training to get an HVAC license in South Carolina. However, the complexity of HVAC equipment makes this increasingly difficult. Therefore, it is more likely that you will need to complete a certificate or degree program before you can get work as an HVAC technician.
After documenting supervised HVAC work, you have the option to apply for an HVAC license. A residential license requires one year of work in the past five years, while a mechanical license requires two years of work experience. Regardless of what path you choose, many good in-person and online programs offer HVAC training in South Carolina.
HVAC License Exam Details
All license options in South Carolina require an examination. If you hold a license in another state, you may be able to waive the subject exams but will still need to pass the business and law exam. All of the following exams are administered by PSI Examination Services:
- Business management and law exam: $75
- Air conditioning exam: $60
- Heating exam: $75
- Residential HVAC exam: $100
HVAC Training Schools in South Carolina
If you want to pursue formal HVAC training in South Carolina, there are several options. For example, the South Carolina Technical College system has numerous schools throughout the state offering HVAC training. The following are accredited by HVAC Excellence:
- Central Carolina Technical College, Sumter, SC (803) 778-7886 ext. 486
- Greenville Technical College, Greenville, SC (864) 236-6436
Other technical schools with HVAC programs include:
- Aiken Technical College, Aiken, SC (803) 593-9231
- Florence-Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC (843) 661-8075
- Horry Georgetown Technical College, Conway, SC and Georgetown, SC (843) 347-3186
- Midlands Technical College, Columbia, SC (803) 738-8324
- Northeastern Technical College, Cheraw, SC (843) 921-6900
- Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College, Orangeburg, SC (803) 536-0311
- Piedmont Technical College, Greenwood, SC (800) 868-5528
- Spartanburg Community College, Spartanburg, SC (864) 592-460
- Technical College of the Lowcountry, Beaufort, SC (843) 525-8207
- Tri-County Technical College, Pendleton, SC (864) 646-TCTC
- Williamsburg Technical College, Kingstree, SC (843) 355-4110
- York Technical College, Rock Hill, SC (803) 327-8000
Great HVAC training can be found both in-person and online. Use our tool below to find additional programs near you.
South Carolina License Application
The exact application process will depend on which type of license you are applying for. However, both run through the Labor Licensing board and are very similar.
To become a licensed Mechanical Contractor, you will need to complete the required training and work experience and then pass any applicable exams. Once that is complete, you should complete and submit the application form (Doc #165) and all supporting documents. These can be found online at the Contractor Licensing Board site.
Those wishing to pursue a Residential Specialty HVAC Contractor license should also complete the required minimum length of HVAC-related work before submitting an application for review. Applicants will be notified if they can then proceed to the testing process. All exams are administered and scheduled through PSI Examination Services.
Both applications ask for contact information, financial guarantees or surety bond, employment history, previous criminal activity, and an affidavit of lawful presence in the United States.
Registration and Permitting Requirements
If you operate your own HVAC business, you may need to register it with the Secretary of State‘s office. Sole proprietors or partnerships should check with local government offices to see if registration is required.
All contractor licenses and certifications in the state require renewals. There are no continuing education requirements for renewals.
Both Residential Specialty Contractor and Commercial Mechanical Contractor licenses must be renewed every two years. Fees are $160 and$350, respectively.
MASC Journeyman certifications are renewed annually, while Master certification is renewed every two years. The fees are $20 and $50, respectively.
HVAC Registered Contractor Requirements in South Carolina
HVAC technicians who want to perform residential work may opt to pursue licensing as a general contractor along with trade certifications. This is a different process than how to get an HVAC license in South Carolina.
EPA Certification in South Carolina
Technicians and contractors performing work with refrigerants — such as in air conditioning systems — must obtain the appropriate EPA Section 608 Technician Certification. This covers the safe handling, storage, transport, and disposal of refrigerants required by the Clean Air Act.
If you are only going to perform work under supervision, you might choose to obtain a journeyman or master HVAC certification from the Municipal Association of South Carolina. The MASC is a trade association and not a licensing board. With it, you will be restricted to residential work under $200 or commercial work under $5,000 without the direct supervision of a licensed contractor.
HVAC License South Carolina FAQ
The following FAQ may help clear up any unanswered questions you still have about how to get an HVAC license in South Carolina.
How Long Is My South Carolina HVAC License Valid?
South Carolina Mechanical Contractors licenses expire on October 31st in odd-numbered years. An initial license fee is prorated to reflect this expiration date. Residential HVAC licenses also renew every two years, but on June 30th.
Can I Use My South Carolina HVAC License in the Other States?
At the time of writing, the following states have reciprocal agreements with South Carolina to accept state HVAC licenses:
You should contact the local licensing board where you plan to operate to confirm this information and obtain the requirements to apply for a reciprocal license.
Who Can I Contact If I Have Questions?
Contractor licenses in South Carolina are issued and managed by the Contractor’s Licensing Board. If you still have questions about how to get an HVAC license in South Carolina, you can direct questions to the board through email at [email protected] or by calling (803) 896-4686.
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 South Carolina, click on a link below to learn more about the licensing requirements: