California HVAC Certification and License Requirements

California tends to have year-round favorable conditions and is generally classified as having a Mediterranean climate. The average annual temperature is 63.6°F and the state generally has a temperature range of 49.9°F to 77.3°F. Professionals that have California HVAC certification are in highest demand during the hot dry summer months but can also come to the rescue during the cooler, rainy days of winter.


California HVAC License Options

HVAC technicians in California are not required to obtain state licensure prior to entering the field.

Most California HVAC technicians complete either an apprenticeship program or work in a trainee position when first entering the field.

California HVAC Journeyman

California HVAC technicians who wish to work at the journeyman level must either complete 4 years of work experience or they may use 1 year of technical school training towards up to 3 of the 4 required years of work experience. Additionally, they must also complete a minimum of 1 year working as either an apprentice or trainee. Sometimes employers may substitute education for the work experience requirement.

California HVAC Contractor License

HVAC professionals who wish to work at the contractor level must obtain a specialty contractor’s license through the Department of Consumer Affairs or Contractors State Licensing Board (CSLB). Professionals must complete at least 4 years of work experience at the journeyman level or they may use technical training and education for up to 3 of the 4 required years of work experience. Additionally, those who plan on working as contractors must also complete a minimum of1 year of training as a journeyman. Specialty license available for HVAC contractors in California are the C-20, C-38, C-4 and C-46 license. The C-20 license covers warm-air HVAC work, the C-38 license covers refrigeration work, the C-4 license covers work related to hot water heaters, boilers, and steam fitting and the C-46 license covers solar contractor work.


California HVAC Specialty Contractor

Those who wish to obtain a HVAC specialty contractor’s license in California can only apply for one license at a time but may apply for additional licenses once their first license has been issued. All contractors must obtain the following: a contractor bond or cash deposit that is a minimum of $15,000, a bond of qualifying individual of at least $12,500, a Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance or Certificate of Self-Insurance of Workers’ Compensation from the Department of Industrial Relations, a LLC Employee/Worker Bond, and LLC liability insurance. Licenses must be renewed every 2 years and have a renewal fee of $360.

California HVAC License

California HVAC Education

California has several renowned programs which offer HVAC education. Programs with HVAC Excellence include Cypress College, Fresno City College, Mt. San Antonio College, and North American Heating & A/C Training Center.

California HVAC Exam Overview

The HVAC exam is 4 hours long and contains 100 multiple choice questions. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass. HVAC contractors must also pass the business and law exam in addition to the HVAC exam. This exam is 2 hours long and has 50 multiple choice questions. A minimum score of 70% is required to pass. Unlike other states, California requires its HVAC contractors to complete the Asbestos Open Book Examination and submit it along with their bond and fee prior to receiving licensure.

California EPA Section 608 Certification

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires all HVAC technicians that work with refrigerants to be certified. In order to obtain EPA certification, HVAC technicians in California must take an exam which has 80 multiple choice questions that must be completed within 3 hours. A score of 70% is required to pass the exam and the exam fee is $120.

The three different EPA certification types that HVAC technicians can acquire are Type I, II and III. Type I limits HVAC technicians to working on appliances which contain no more than five pounds of refrigerant. Type II permits HVAC technicians to perform work on high pressure appliances. Type III limits HVAC technicians to working on low-pressure appliances. This certification is transferable among all states and does not expire.

California HVAC Salary

HVAC professionals in California earn on average $53,000 per year with the top 10% earning over $80,000 annually. Cities which pay the highest rates for HVAC workers include San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Modesto with average salaries ranging from $53,000 to over $120,000 per year.