To work as a licensed HVAC contractor, different states have different requirements. In fact, several states do not even have state-wide licensing requirements. Others have multiple licensing requirements. In the case of Maryland, individuals are required to not only become a licensed journeyman but also a licensed HVAC contractor. In addition to the multiple levels of licenses, there are different ways to waive test-taking in Maryland. This process is discussed in the section below that covers the step-by-step process to become an HVAC licensed contractor in Maryland. 

Most of the HVAC-related licensing issues and questions are managed by Maryland’s Department of Labor, the Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors (HVACR). This office also deals with contractors who work on any type of refrigeration. 

Maryland’s Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVACR)

The Board of HVACR not only manages the issuing of licenses, but also serves as an overseer and regulator for all commercial and residential HVACR contractors. By law, the Board of HVACR in Maryland can also implement codes and standards for the way HVACR contractors conduct their work– whether it’s repairing or maintaining, installing a new system, or replacing an existing system for remodeling. When there is an issue with the work of an HVACR contractor, a person or business can contact the Board of HVACR as a matter of recourse, and the Board will hear complaints and potentially take action against that contractor. 

Per the Labor Department’s website, a list of management and disciplinary actions that the Board of HVACR in Maryland can enact include:

  • Issue HVACR contractor licenses and certificates of insurance 
  • Adopt applicable regulations such as codes and standards for HVACR contractors 
  • Hear complaints about HVACR contractors 
  • Conduct hearings against individuals and businesses who are HVACR contractors
  • Impose administrative sanctions such as suspending or revoking licenses, or imposing fines up to $5,000 per infringement by a contractor 

How to become a HVACR contractor in Maryland 

Contractors who work on HVAC systems in Maryland must be licensed with either a master license, master restricted license, limited license, or a journeyman license. To begin the licensing process, you must first have a journeyman license. 

The Labor Department instructs those who are seeking to pass the examination to become a licensed HVAC contractor to fill out an application with the testing service, PSI. PSI staff will review the application and notify the applicant as to which test they should apply based on their past HVAC experience. However, the general steps of holding any type of license to work on HVAC systems in Maryland are:

  1. Become a licensed apprentice 

Working as a licensed apprentice entails registering with the state and then receiving training by assisting a technician who is a licensed Master, Master Restricted or Limited HVACR contractor. It does not require passing an exam. The application to become an HVACR Licensed Apprentice can be found here.

  1. Become a journeyman 

Once licensed as an apprentice, the training continues for three years and 1,875 hours of training under a licensed HVACR contractor before moving to the next step: journeyman. At the conclusion of these training hours, the apprentice must pass the journeyman test with a score of at least 70%. The application for the journeyman test can be found on the PSI testing website

  1. Become a master, master restricted, or limited license holder

While similar in several ways, the various HVACR contractors’ licensing levels – master, master restricted, and limited – contain slight differences depending on the type of license one may be interested in obtaining. For a master license, one must have experience in all areas of HVACR services. For a master restricted license, one must have experience in providing HVACR services but not necessarily in all areas. For a limited license, less training time and less areas of specialty are required as compared to the requirements for a master and master restricted. The differences are listed below (in bold): 

To hold a master license: 

  • You must be a licensed journeyman who has been employed and working under an HVACR master for three years, during that time providing all areas of HVACR services. 
  • You must have worked at least 1,875 hours in the previous year before applying.
  • You must pass the master license test with a score of 70% or higher.

To hold a master restricted license: 

  • You must be a licensed journeyman who has been employed, working, and providing HVACR services under an HVACR master for three years.
  • You must have worked at least 1,875 hours in the previous year before applying.
  • You must pass the master restricted license test with a score of 70% or higher.

To hold a limited license: 

  • You must be a licensed journeyman who has been employed, working, and providing HVACR services under an HVACR master for two years.
  • You must have worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous year before applying.
  • You must pass the master restricted license test with a score of 70% or higher.

The application for each of these tests can be found on the PSI testing website

Waiving test requirement, insurance requirement, reciprocal licensing

Additional details to be aware of include how to waive certain testing requirements, insurance requirements of all licensed contractors, and reciprocal licensing between nearby states.

While the Labor Department mentions briefly that it may be possible to waive test requirements for those who have been working as apprentices or journeymen, one would have to discuss their unique situation and experience with a representative at their office. Depending on the amount of experience you have or if you have completed a state-approved apprenticeship program, you may qualify for a testing exemption.

Equally important, HVAC contractors should know that there are also insurance requirements for any licensed contractor. If an HVAC contractor does not have insurance or fails to renew their insurance policy, it is illegal for them to enter into any contracts to provide HVAC services. The Board of HVACR in Maryland offers a list of important licensing requirements that can be found here

Finally, the Board of HVACR in Maryland currently engages in reciprocal licensing with Delaware and Virginia, and allows those who hold licenses in other states to apply for reciprocal licensing as well. A list of requirements for reciprocal licensing can be found here.

Exxel Mechanical: well-versed on the rules and regulations 

As premier HVAC service providers in Maryland, we here at Exxel Mechanical are knowledgeable and stay current on all license requirements in order to be HVAC contractors in good standing. If you have questions about becoming an HVAC contractor, are interested in joining our team, or are in need of the HVAC services that we provide, feel free to reach out. We are here to answer your call! Call us at (443) 821-1040.