There will be an average of 10 new HVAC technician job openings in the state each year over the decade leading up to 2024.Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce DevelopmentAlaska HVAC installers and technicians are categorized as either journeymen or mechanical administrators. Journeymen are not licensed, while mechanical administrators hold a state license earned through experience and/or education and by passing a state examination.
Additionally, a “Certificate of Fitness” for gas piping (known as a Restricted Plumber/PG Certificate) is available, as well as boiler operator and boiler installation/repair licenses for anybody that will be performing these specialized functions.
The State of Alaska Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing uses the term “journeyman” for all HVAC professionals working under the supervision of a licensed mechanical administrator. However, more often the term HVAC “technician” is used in the field and by employers. When it comes to HVAC in Alaska, journeyman status does not involve becoming licensed and does not require gaining years of experience. This can be a source of confusion since journeyman status in most trades involves gaining years of experience and meeting other license qualifications – not the case with HVAC techs in Alaska.
Enrolling in an HVAC trade school program or apprenticeship will likely be your introduction to Alaska’s HVAC industry. Career preparation to become an entry-level journeyman HVAC technician in Alaska is all about meeting employer requirements and being a competitive job candidate since the state doesn’t have any entry-level licensing options.
HVAC Technical School Programs
Completing an HVAC program through a technical college or trade school will provide you with the classroom training and hands-on experience to land a job as an HVAC journeyman and work toward your mechanical administrator’s license, if desired. Education and training gained in trade school programs can:
- Substitute up to 2 years of the experience requirements for gaining HVAC administrator license(s) in Alaska:
- Heating, Cooling and Process Piping (HCPP)
- Unlimited Refrigeration (UR)
- Unlimited HVAC/Sheet Metal (UHVCS)
- Unlimited Commercial and Industrial Plumbing (UCIP)
- Residential HVAC (RHVC)
- Residential Plumbing and Hydronic Heating (RPHH)
- Mechanical Systems Temperature Control (CNTL)
- Be used to earn EPA Section 608 certification, which is a standard federal requirement for any HVAC professional testing refrigerant line pressure, adding refrigerant to existing AC systems or otherwise handling certain controlled refrigerants. EPA certification is a standard requirement for all professionals servicing HVAC systems.
HVAC programs are typically offered as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or career diploma in HVAC-R. Graduates of these programs are able to diagnose and repair residential and commercial heating, refrigeration, air conditioning, and ventilation systems. Many programs also prepare students with the business and communication skills to complete for entry-level HVAC jobs.
You may also begin earning valuable, on-the-job experience as an apprentice. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development maintains a list of eligible training partners and providers.
Education and Experience Requirements for an HVAC Mechanical Administrator’s License
The type and amount of education and experience needed to become a mechanical administrator in Alaska will vary depending on the license category. In most cases, an HVAC program completed through an accredited trade school, technical school, or community college can substitute for up to 2 years of the required experience necessary to become a mechanical administrator.
The contracting company that employs you will guide you through selecting the license that best aligns with the kind of jobs the company performs and your role within the company.
The State of Alaska, Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development’s Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing licenses mechanical administrators in the following categories:
Note: One year of experience is defined as 12 consecutive months of work and at least 1,500 hours.
Applying to Become an HVAC Mechanical Administrator in Alaska
Once you have acquired the education and/or experience to qualify for the mechanical administrator’s license that aligns with the type of work you perform, you must complete and notarize the Mechanical Administrator License Application and include the following with your application:
You must list one contractor as your employer on your license. If you don’t have an employer at the time you are applying, your license will be “unassigned.” You must notify the Division as soon as you become employed so you can assign your license to a contractor.
You cannot work as a mechanical administrator until you have assigned your license.
Once your application has been approved, you may contact PSI Exams to schedule your examination to become a mechanical administrator in Alaska.
PSI sets up exam locations in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Anchorage.
The examination will test your ability to understand plans, design specifications, and engineering terms commonly used in the mechanical field, your knowledge of mechanical installations and plumbing, and your familiarity with the Uniform Plumbing Code, Uniform Swimming Pool, Spa, and Hot Tub Code, Uniform Solar Energy Code, and the Uniform Mechanical Code of Alaska. You must score at least 70 percent on this exam.
Maintaining a Mechanical Administrator’s License
During the two-year renewal period, you must complete at least one, eight-hour continuing education workshop or individual study program approved for the category in which you are licensed. You can view approved programs here.
Mechanical Contractor Requirements in Alaska
Bidding and working HVAC jobs independently in Alaska requires a mechanical contractor’s license. You must hold a current mechanical administrator’s license before you can apply for a contractor’s license.
All mechanical administrators working as contractors in Alaska must complete a Construction Contractor Registration Application Packet , in addition to the following:
All contractors in Alaska are also required to hold an Alaska Business License. Read more about applying for a business license here.
EPA Certification Requirements
You may need to apply for the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Section 608 Certification to work as a journeyman in Alaska. The school where you completed your HVAC training will provide you with information on applying for EPA certification.
Before applying for and taking EPA Section 608 Certification, you will first determine which type of certification you will need based on the type of systems you work with (Type II covers most standard residential and commercial systems):
Note: If you work on AC (MVAC) systems in motor vehicles, you may also need to earn EPA Section 609 Certification.
To earn EPA Section 608 certification, you must pass an examination that includes two sections: (1) a Core Section and (2) a section that aligns with the certificate type for which you are applying.
Commercial and Residential Renovations Keep Alaska’s HVAC Market Strong
Dropping oil prices in 2016 may have resulted in a slowdown in new residential and commercial construction throughout much of Alaska, but plenty of commercial and residential alterations, additions, and renovations have taken its place.
Upgrades, alterations, and additions to existing residential and commercial properties in Alaska means more jobs for HVAC journeymen and mechanical administrators and an abundance of business opportunities for the HVAC contractors that employ them.
According to statistics from Anchorage’s Office of Economic and Community Development, permit applications to upgrade buildings were up significantly between the periods of January-June 2015 and January-June 2016. Residential permits for alterations and additions during this time increased 46 percent, while commercial permits increased 28 percent.
Regardless of your career goals, a diploma/certificate or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree is the ideal starting point in Alaska’s HVAC industry. The knowledge and skills gained through the completion of a comprehensive HVAC program is what you’ll want in your back pocket as you enter the job market.
HVAC Technician Salaries in Alaska
At $30.56 hourly or $63,560 annually, HVAC technicians in Alaska earn the highest average salary in the nation (US Department of Labor, 2015).
Alaska HVAC Technician Salary (average)
Alaska HVAC Technician Salary (Fairbanks)
Alaska HVAC Technician Salary (Anchorage)
Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports there will be an average of 10 new HVAC technician job openings in the state each year over the decade leading up to 2024.
HVAC technicians in Alaska will always be in demand, serving a vital role comparable to emergency response personnel. When it’s cold, HVAC technicians can literally make the difference between life and death in areas where the average annual temperature hovers just above freezing (Anchorage: 37°F), or even below (Fairbanks: 27°F).
HVAC techs in Alaska can accrue significant overtime pay, especially during an unexpected or extreme cold spell. An article from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson’s news wire – “HVAC Team Turns on Fire” – gives some insight into what it’s like when a cold front moves in. The base’s HVAC leader notes, “When the weather turns, we’re out there pounding the pavement getting the heat turned on … When the weather turns, it turns quick.”
What HVAC Techs Earn in Alaska’s Largest Cities
Hourly pay rates and annual salaries are presented here as a range between the median and the 90th percentile. Numbers were sourced from the US Department of Labor in May 2015: