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In Georgia, you’ll need to approach HVAC technician career preparation from two angles: minimum legal requirements and employer expectations:

With construction booming in Georgia, the state’s Department of Labor predicts that the number of jobs for HVAC technicians will increase by more than 20% between 2014 and 2024.The Georgia Department of Labor (DOL)

  • Federal-level Section 608 certification through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a standard requirement for all HVAC technicians throughout the country
  • If you’re going to be working as a contractor or independently you must get an HVAC contractor’s license from the Georgia Board of Conditioned Air Contractors. If you are working for a shop under the supervision of someone with a Conditioned Air Contractor License and only installing, altering, or repairing duct systems, control systems, or insulation then you are not required to have a Conditioned Air Contractor License. If you engage in more extensive work such as the complete installation, alteration, or repair of a conditioned air system then you must get this license.
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Employer Expectations

In addition to the EPA Section 608 certification, most, if not all, prospective employers are going to expect one or more of the following, however the letter of the law does not require you to meet these standards:

  • At least three years of HVAC experience
  • Graduation from an HVAC school program
  • A state HVAC contractor’s license, even if you’re not working as a contractor
  • A voluntary professional credential, such as those issued by the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and the National Institute for Uniform Licensing of Power Engineers (NIULPE)

Earning a diploma/certificate or Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in HVAC-R through a local community college or trade school can count for up to half of the four years of experience required to earn a contractor license:

  • If you complete an AAS program you can receive credit for up to 2 years toward the 4-year experience requirement
  • If you complete a certificate/diploma program you can receive credit for up to one year of the 4-year experience requirement

Select programs will also walk you through the process of earning the required EPA Section 608 certification.

By completing a technical training program you’ll also graduate with the exact job skills employers are looking for:

  • Refrigeration fundamentals, design, principles, and practices
  • HVACR electrical motors, controls, and components
  • Heat pumps and related systems
  • Gas and warm air heating
  • Environmental science
  • HVACR system troubleshooting

EPA Section 608 Certification Requirements

Holding EPA Section 608 certification is a requirement of federal law and applies to all HVAC technicians that will be working with pressurized refrigerant in any capacity. There are three EPA certification options, depending on what types of work you’ll be doing:

For servicing small, self-contained appliances containing five or fewer pounds or refrigerant

Type II covers most residential and small commercial systems, so it is standard for most HVAC technicians. Employers will specify which type of EPA certification they prefer or require.

Some trade school programs include preparation for EPA certification as part of their curriculum.

To earn one of these certifications you must pass the EPA exam specific to the certification type.

EPA Section 608 certification courses and tests are available through many providers throughout Georgia. Your school, prospective employer, and the EPA can provide you with more specific information about the nearest training and testing location. Some locations may offer same-day classes, testing, and certification.

If you are working with motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) systems you must complete a separate Section 609 EPA-approved technician training and certification program.

HVAC Contractor License in Georgia

HVAC Technician adjusting air conditioning system

Anyone interested in establishing an HVAC business and working independently, hiring employees, and bidding jobs must obtain a contractor license. However, in Georgia, a contractor license is also a valuable asset for HVAC professionals that work for a shop since it demonstrates experience and expert-level aptitude. Licensed contractors working as employees often serve as job foremen or in other leadership positions.

There are two Conditioned Air Contractor License options available through the Georgia Board of Conditioned Air Contractors consistent with the type of job you intend to bid and work on:

  • Class I License (Restricted)

    Restricted to conditioned air contracting involving conditioned air systems or equipment not exceeding 175,000 BTUs for heating and 60,000 BTUs for cooling

  • Class II License (Unrestricted)

    Not restricted to any BTU limit

Employers or contracting parties will often specify which class of license they prefer or require.

To be eligible for either of these licenses you must:

  • Meet the experience requirement
  • Pass the appropriate examination with a score of at least 70
  • Submit a completed application
  • Pay licensing and exam fees

Factors Contributing to a Strong Job Market for HVAC Techs and Contractors in Georgia

The HVAC market in Georgia is strong for many reasons:

  • Climate – in Atlanta the average low in January is 34 °F while the average high in July is 89 °F
  • Cost – Georgia has a higher cost of commercial electricity than the neighboring states of Florida and North Carolina
  • Residential growth – the Governor’s Office of Planing and Budget projects the population to increase from 11.1 million in 2015 to 14.7 million by 2030
  • Efficiency incentives – Georgia Power provides prescriptive incentives for energy-efficient building upgrades, including rebates for the installation of more efficient HVAC systems

Georgia’s Department of Workforce Information and Analysis projects that between 2014 and 2024 the number of HVAC technician jobs will grow by 20 percent, averaging 310 job openings per year. In fact, the Atlanta metro area has the third-highest number of HVAC technicians of all cities in the nation.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Labor reported that HVAC technicians in the top 10% earned an average salary of $64,480 ($31.00 hourly) as of 2016. That year, the median salary among HVAC technicians in Georgia was $42,265 ($20.56 hourly).

HVAC Technician Salary in Georgia (median)
HVAC Technician Salary in Georgia (top 10%)

With construction booming in Georgia, the state’s Department of Labor predicts that the number of jobs for HVAC technicians will increase by more than 20% between 2014 and 2024. The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area, in particular, presents some unique opportunities for HVAC techs. In fact, as of 2015 the US Bureau of Labor Statistics has identified the area as having the 3rd highest number of HVAC tech jobs of any metro area in the nation.

Georgia received national press for the strength of its construction industry. Oldcastle Building Construction conducted an analysis of the construction forecast for 2016 and reported that Georgia was one of the three states “leading the expansion.”

Even the Wall Street Journal featured Georgia in a 2017 article that described how developers and investors are snapping up empty lots in subdivisions that were abandoned during the downturn in the late 2000s.

With the recent surge in construction, skilled workers are in short supply both nationally and in Georgia. Trey Anderson, President of the Associated General Contractors of Georgia, Inc., considers the need to overcome a shortage of skilled workers and managers one of the three most pressing issues that face the construction industry in the state.

HVAC Salaries in Georgia’s Largest Cities

The US Department of Labor provides the hourly wages and annual salaries for HVAC technicians in the major metropolitan areas of Georgia as of 2015. Shown here are salaries and hour pay rates ranging from the median to the top 10%.

  • Albany

    • Hourly: $17.68 – $22.82
    • Annual: $36,770 – $47,460
  • Athens-Clark County

    • Hourly: $19.97 – $29.94
    • Annual: $38,130 – $62,280
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell

    • Hourly: $21.42 – $32.88
    • Annual: $44,500 – $68,400
  • Augusta-Richmond County

    • Hourly: $23.25 – $30.10
    • Annual: $48,380 – $62,600
  • Brunswick

    • Hourly: $14.65 – $22,76
    • Annual: $30,400 – $47,350
  • Columbus

    • Hourly: $17,26 – $24,84
    • Annual: $36,900 – $51,670
  • Dalton

    • Hourly: $17.19 – $33.40
    • Annual: $36,760 – $48,680
  • Gainesville

    • Hourly: $21.38 – $29.89
    • Annual: $44,460 – $62,170
  • Hinesville

    • Hourly: $20.83 – $28.90
    • Annual: $43,300 – $60,100
  • Rome

    • Hourly: $18.60 – $23.56
    • Annual: $38,690 – $49,000
  • Savannah

    • Hourly: $20.49 – $27.24
    • Annual: $42,620 – $56,870
  • Valdosta

    • Hourly: $17.20 – $29.28
    • Annual: $35,780 – $60,900
  • Warner-Robins

    • Hourly: $18.00 – $26.26
    • Annual: $37,450 – $64,630