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North Carolina HVAC Certification

Starting a career as an HVAC technician in the state of North Carolina opens a number of amazing job opportunities and rewards. Since it’s considered one of the best states for HVAC technicians, it’s not surprising why a lot of HVAC professional technicians and engineers from other states flock to North Carolina to look for employment and career opportunities. However, before you can work as a North Carolina HVAC contractor or refrigeration technician, you should first secure your North Carolina HVAC certification license.

To obtain your license, you should first get a passing score on the Refrigeration Contractor’s examination. Once you pass the exam, you will then get a North Carolina Refrigeration Contractor license.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the North Carolina HVAC certification process which covers topics such as how to apply, what requirements to gather, how to prepare for the exam, and what to do after you have sat the exam.

North Carolina Heating and Cooling Licensing Process

The state has purposely separated refrigeration contractors from heating and cooling contractors for licensing requirements. You can find three different heating and cooling license types in North Carolina which are as follows:

  1. H1 – this is for water based or wet heating units and the license allows you to install, repair, or maintain heating systems in either commercial, residential, or industrial building. There are two classes: Class 1 for any types of building, and Class 2 for single-family detached units.
  2. H2 – this type of license allows you to service forced air cooling and heating units that aregreater than fifteen tons.
  3. H3 – this is intended for forced air heating and cooling for HVAC units that are below 15 tons. Similar to H1 license, it’s also divided into Class 1 that is applicable for all buildings and Class 2 which is applicable for single family detached homes.

Under each of the licensing types, you can find a “T” designation. This refers to a technician which should be a sublicensee of an HVAC contractor. It’s shown as H1-T, H2-T, and H3-T. There’s also a designation for state and local government employees labeled “SGLT” and is written as SGLT-H1, and so on.

Before you can apply for a contractor examination for any class, you should have the following requirements:

  • 24 months of working experience in an on-site setting which include tasks like servicing, maintenance, repair, or installation of plumbing and heating systems based on the type of license you prefer, regardless if license was needed for the project or not. This roughly translates to a total of 4,000 hours.
  • Or, you can also opt for two thousand hours or thirty semester hours of technical or academic training from an accredited training facility.

If you want to apply for the technician examination, you should have at least a year and a half or roughly 3,000 hours of on-site working experience in any plumbing or heating-related project on the category of your preferred license, regardless if the project requires a license or not. You don’t need any technical or academic training requirement.

The Heating Licensing Examination Process

You are given four hours to complete the examination for either contractor or technician. If you go for a contractor exam, you should also take a business and law exam which has an allocated duration ofninety minutes.

You can find more information regarding the exam, along with some current study materials and references, from the state’s licensing website. You can also find the application form along with additional information about the requirements.

Refrigeration Licensing Process

If you choose to take on refrigeration units which include maintenance, repair, installation, and servicing, you should first register with the Refrigeration Board in North Carolina. Before you can take the exam, you should first secure the following requirements:

  • An evidence to confirm your completion of at least 4,000 hours in commercial refrigeration work
  • A duly accomplished form along with a non-refundable application or examination fee

Experience is absolutely necessary if you want to obtain your contractor’s license. Your experience could either be in the form of technical or academic training in an accredited institution, or apprenticeship under a licensed contractor. The Board only accepts 2,000 hours of academic or technical training as part of your experience qualification. The rest should be acquired by either working as a professional engineer, as an apprentice under a licensed refrigeration contractor’s supervision, or relevant working experience.

If you are unsure of your experience, you may get in touch with the Board. They will provide you information and assess whether you are eligible for the examination or not. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t have a license reciprocity agreement. Therefore, if you have your HVAC certification and license from other state and choose to work in North Carolina, you will have to follow the same standard procedure for North Carolina HVAC certification.

How to Apply

Once you have secured all requirements, you need to fill out the application form. You will need the following information:

  • Educational information in the event you completed technical or academic training which is considered part of your eligibility criteria
  • History of any previous applications, if applicable
  • Confirmation from your current or previous supervisor. This is necessary for the work experience as part of your eligibility criteria. The section of the form should be filled in by your supervisor who will then confirm the hours of work you rendered.

After you have completed and signed the form, send it to the Board and pay the licensing fee.

It is important to study and prepare for the exam before the actual examination date. This will help increase your chances of getting a passing score. There are four different sections which you should pass if you want to get your North Carolina HVAC certification and license.

You’re only given three chances to pass all parts of the exam within 12 months. Failing three times in a row will require you retake the exam, regardless if you have failed in only one part. Basically, these are the parts that make up the examination along with their respective topics:

  1. Part A – This part of the course deals with Law, Administrative Code, and Refrigeration Safety
  2. Part B – This part of the course deals with Refrigeration theory, equipment performance, and electrical aspects
  3. Part C – This part of the course deals with Electrical and mechanical codes
  4. Part D – This part of the course deals with Estimating, plans, and specifications

Each part consists of 15, 40, 20, and 25 questions respectively. Keep in mind that this is an open book exam; therefore, you can bring any reference material that will help you get a passing score.

Meanwhile, if you apply for a transport refrigeration certification, you only have to take three parts, each of them having fewer questions.

How to Pass the Exam and Get Your License

After completing and passing the examination, the State Refrigeration Board will then give you your Refrigeration Contractor’s license. It is necessary to renew the license every year. The Board will send you notifications about the renewal process.

In the event you forgot to renew your license, you will be prohibited to work on any HVAC-related project in the state. Your license number should also be included in your permit applications. If you want to keep your license, make sure you comply with all the licensing conditions; otherwise, you’ll end up losing your license, or worse, face legal charges.


It’s a legal requirement to obtain your North Carolina HVAC certification and license if you want to take on HVAC-related jobs in the state. While the process may seem daunting, it’s actually a bit more straight forward than it at first seems given that you comply with all the requirements and have an idea of the examination process.

You can also find all detailed information on the State Board’s website. Good luck!

Check out nearby states such as Georgia and Florida, to see what it takes to work in those states.

North Carolina HVAC Certification