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HVAC technicians in Maine in the top 25% earned an average salary of $56,740 ($27.28 hourly) as of 2015.The Maine Department of Labor (DOL)
With an average temperature range that barely scrapes above 80 degrees in the summer and regularly plunges well below freezing for long periods in the snowy northern winters, you might guess that Maine has very little demand for large numbers of air conditioning installations, and you would be right. The state does not have a license program specifically covering HVAC technicians.

On the other hand, the Pine Tree State is very much the domain of heating systems specialists, and the Maine Fuel Board offers 12 different types of licenses covering several categories of heating and fuel-related professions.

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Two of the licenses that are most common for installers and service technicians in Maine are:

Oil Burner/Solid Fuel TechnicianRequires examination and ONE of the following:

  • 1 year of practical experience

OR

  • 6 months practical experience plus 160 hours of trade school training

OR

  • 1 year of technical college consisting of 320 hours of training and no job experience

Propane and Natural Gas TechnicianRequires ONE of the following:

  • Completing a certified employer training program

OR

  • A technical college or trade school program

The state does not offer or require specific contractor’s licenses, but installers must have one or more of the technician licenses to work in new construction with oil, wood, or gas heat systems:

  • Oil Burner/Solid Fuel Technician (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master)
  • Limited Wood Pellet Technician
  • Oil Limited Energy Auditor Technician
  • Propane Limited Energy Auditor Technician
  • Propane and Natural Gas Technician
  • Plant Operator And/Or Delivery Technician

Earning Fuels Licenses to Work in HVAC in Maine

Enrolling in a trade school or technical college and earning a career diploma or associate of science in HVAC is a standard path to gaining the basic technical skills and knowledge necessary to either enter the field as a strong entry-level job candidate or fast-track the process for meeting the requirements for licensure.

Technician is checking air conditioner

All Maine HVAC-related licensure is handled through the Maine Fuel Board. Applications can be made online. The board offers several licenses:

  • Oil Burner/Solid Fuel Technician (Apprentice, Journeyman, Master)
  • Limited Tank Installer
  • Limited Wood Pellet Technician
  • Gas Dispensing Station
  • Oil Limited Energy Auditor Technician
  • Gas Storage Tank Permit
  • Propane Limited Energy Auditor Technician
  • Propane and Natural Gas Technician (Technician and Helper)
  • Plant Operator And/Or Delivery Technician

Here we will cover the two that are most common: Oil Burner/Solid Fuel Technician and Natural Gas Technician:

As an Oil Burner or Solid Fuel Technician

The oil burner/solid fuel technician license can be acquired through either on-the-job experience or education, or a combination of both approaches, followed by a passing score on a related exam (must score better than 70 percent in order to pass).

It’s important to note that the license has four different categories (or authorities, as MFB describes them):

  • #1 and #2 fuel oils up to 15 gallon per hour flow rate
  • #1 and #2 fuel oils over 15 gallon per hour flow rate
  • #4, #5, and #6 oils
  • Solid fuel

If you want to become licensed in multiple categories, you will have to take the exams for each. Your experience or education can be used to count as qualifying to take any exam assuming your on-the-job experience and/or technical training involved working with those types of systems. Requirements for the exams can be met in a number of different ways:

  • One year of practical experience

OR

  • One year technical college HVAC program with at least 320 hours of instruction including 150 hours of lab work with related equipment (you can apply for and take the test immediately after graduation)

OR

  • Six months of practical experience if you have attended a trade

School program with at least 160 hours of training, 75 of which must be lab work with oil burning equipment and related systems

In either case, you will have to obtain an apprentice license before performing that work. The application fee is $25 and the license fee is $40. The license is good for two years, so you should not need to renew it, but the renewal fee is also $40 if it should take you longer than two years to get your experience in.

Once you have fulfilled the application requirements, you must apply to take the required examination. There is a $25 application fee; the license fee is $100, assuming you pass the exam.

Licenses are good for two years from the date of issue with a $100 renewal fee due at that time.

You may advance to the journeyman and master level license after accumulating the necessary experience:

  • Journeyman – Two years experience accumulated as an apprentice or entry-level employee
  • Master – Four years experience, at least two years of which must be as a licensed journeyman

Both journeyman and master level licenses require an exam.

As a Propane and Natural Gas Technician

A natural gas technician license does not require any on-the-job experience. Instead, you will have to complete an approved training program and, in most cases, take and pass the license test.

There are five different authorities available on a propane and natural gas license:

  • Appliance connection and service
  • Tank setter and outside piping
  • Delivery technician
  • Plant operator
  • Large equipment connection and service

The exams are separate for each of these authorities, although you can apply for multiple categories.

Training programs can be either community college or trade school programs, or employer-based training.

Most employers in the state use the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP) from the National Propane Gas Association. Graduates of this program would be exempt from the examination requirement: if you have passed a CETP program, you can apply directly for licensure in Maine.

The application fee is $25 and a two-year license is $100, with $100 renewal fee.

The state also offers a Propane and Natural Gas Helper credential, which costs only $20 (plus initial $25 application fee) for a two-year license and has no qualification requirements. This is not a required step toward full licensure and does not provide any special authority, other than to assist a licensed technician.

Maritime HVAC Apprenticeships

There are a number of other HVAC apprenticeship opportunities available in Maine, both through union and private employers. Although those programs do fulfill the requirements for Maine licensing, they are primarily designed to serve the state’s robust shipbuilding and maritime training sector rather than commercial or residential installation. Employers such as Bath Iron Works, one of the state’s largest, provide a steady demand for skilled marine HVAC technicians.

In fact, many graduates from the state’s HVAC trade schools and community college HVAC-R programs also end up working in the maritime industry.

These programs consist of in-depth classroom instruction and on the job training. You can expect to go through around 1,000 hours of formal classroom instruction and four or five years of on-the-job training under master technicians.

There are some specialized qualifications for working in the marine industry that commercial or residential technicians may not be familiar with. In addition to meeting age and education requirements (usually 18 years and at least a high school education), apprentices must also obtain a federal TWIC, or Transportation Workers Identification Card, to work on board vessels or in ship-building facilities.

After completing an apprenticeship, you must still go through the regular application and exam process as described above, although any experience requirements for the credential will have been more than fulfilled.

EPA Certification Requirements

Although Maine may not have a huge demand for air conditioning, there are still installations that require large-scale refrigeration systems, some using refrigerants such as Freon or ammonia. These refrigerants are tightly controlled and only certified individuals are allowed to work on such systems.

Section 608 of the Federal Clean Air Act covers the uses of regulated refrigerant substances. There are four categories of certification offered by the EPA:

Small appliances service and repair

Most trade school, college, or apprentice programs will include specific training on Section 608, and many of them will offer the certification test as a regular part of the curriculum. You can graduate from the program with your certificate already in hand and be ready to step instantly into any position that requires it.

HVAC Career Prospects in Maine

The northeast is one of the last bastions of oil-based heating in the United States, but as wood-heating efficiency increases and oil prices have fluctuated, many residents are increasingly moving to solid fuels, spurring replacement installation work.

There is a secret pool of genuine HVAC employment opportunities in the state, however, in the form of the state’s robust maritime industry. Shipbuilders have to install robust HVAC systems to deal with a wide range of environmental conditions, not just the chilly northern climate where they are built. Consequently, many of the job listings for the profession, and many of the available apprenticeship opportunities, come through the maritime industry.

Transportation-industry work has outpaced construction work in Maine, and remains likely to continue to do so as large federal contracts such as the DDG-51 destroyer yard services contract, announced in late 2016, fuel output.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Maine

HVAC technicians earned a place on the Maine Department of Labor’s list of high-wage in-demand jobs for 2016 that require post-secondary education, but not a full bachelor’s degree.

The Department reported that HVAC technicians in Maine in the top 25% earned an average salary of $56,740 ($27.28 hourly) as of 2015. The median salary among HVAC techs was $45,700 ($21.97 hourly).

HVAC Average Salary (Median)
$45,700
HVAC Average Salary (Top 25%)
$56,740

The median salary among HVAC technicians in the Portland and Portsmouth areas was so high that it exceeded the national median salary among these tradesmen.

HVAC Technician Salaries Throughout Maine

The US Department of Labor provides the salaries of HVAC technicians throughout Maine as of 2015. The ranges below show the median to top 10% yearly and hourly earnings in each of the state’s major cities.

  • Bangor

    • Annual: $42,610 – $63,370
    • Hourly: $20.49 – $30.47
  • Lewiston-Auburn

    • Annual: $43,730 – $58,960
    • Hourly: $21.02 – $28.35
  • Portland-South Portland-Biddeford

    • Annual: $51,910* – $68,450
    • Hourly: $24.06* – $32.91
  • Southwest Maine Balance of State

    • Annual: $42,180 – $58,410
    • Hourly: $20.27 – $28.08
  • Portsmouth

    • Annual: $51,120* – $67,390
    • Hourly: $26.02* – $32.40

*Salaries that exceed the national median.

HVAC Technician Employment in Maine

Maine boasts a high concentration of jobs for HVAC techs according to the US Department of Labor. In fact, the state had the 3rd highest such concentration in the country as of 2015.

The Maine Department of Labor reported that more than 1,800 HVAC technicians were employed in the state as of 2015. The US Department of Labor reported that the building construction industry is the largest employer of HVAC techs in the country.

The report from the Maine Department of Labor that the number of people employed in the construction of buildings in Maine increased each year from January 2014 through January 2016 bodes well for the prospects of HVAC technicians in the state.