The average salary for HVAC techs in the top 10% in Minnesota exceeded the national average for this category by 15.6%. HVAC technicians in this category in Minnesota earned an average salary of $80,413 ($38.66 hourly) as of 2016.The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic DevelopmentThe state of Minnesota does not impose state-level licensing requirements for either HVAC-R technicians or contractors, however, many cities, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, do require municipal certification.
Even outside the cities or towns with HVAC license requirements, competition can be fierce for entry-level HVAC technician jobs. With the industry becoming increasingly high-tech, there is little room to advance for beginners who come in without some knowledge and training in modern HVAC system installation and maintenance.
Proper training through an HVAC trade school or technical college program helps ensure that competitive advantage, while also satisfying local licensing requirements and federal-level EPA Section 608 certification for handling controlled refrigerants.
The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul both have restrictions and qualifications for technicians who are allowed to perform HVAC installation or service within the city limits. Conveniently, as the cities are located right next to one another, they have a reciprocity agreement so you can earn your certificate of competency (known as comp cards in the trade) in either city and then apply immediately for a card in the other. Additionally, St. Paul will recognize cards from any other Minnesota municipality with equivalent competency requirements.
Obtaining a Minneapolis and/or St. Paul Certificate of Competency
Certificates of competency for the mechanical trades are issued by:
Certificates are issued for the following trades common among HVAC professionals:
- Refrigeration – Refrigeration system equipment install and repair.
- Steam / Hot Water – Steamfitting and piping installation and repair.
- Gasfitter – Gas system and fuel burner system installation and repair.
- Oil Burner – Oil burner system installation and repair.
- Ventilation – Installing systems that move natural air in or out of a space by mechanical means.
- Warm air – Installing systems that use mechanical systems to move warm air into a space.
Depending on the work your employer performs, you may need comp cards in some or all of these fields. The master and journey levels for many of the occupations have different system size or capacity limitations; consult the Safety and Inspections Department for details.
It’s important to note that the Ventilation and Warm air cards are required only for workers performing system installations. Servicing those systems does not require a comp card.
The journeyman level of qualification has the following requirements:
- Obtain 4 years of on-the-job experience as a state-registered apprentice AND 144 hours per year of classroom education (in Minneapolis, 576 hours of class time in the preceding 5 years is also accepted)
- Obtain 7 years of on-the-job experience in the field (only in St. Paul)
- Pass the certification exam offered by the city with a 70 percent score or better
The application fee is $55 in St. Paul.Minneapolis does not charge an application fee, but there is a $105 exam fee.
Obtaining a master’s certificate follows the same process, but costs $82.50 (in St. Paul only) and requires at least one year of experience as a certified journeyman, with no less than five years of total, cumulative experience in the field. Additionally, you have to pass the certification exam with a score of 75 percent or better.In St. Paul, examinations for warm air and ventilation are offered in January and July each year, while the other trade tests are offered in April and October. Minneapolis does not have a published test schedule; check the Construction Code Service website for announcements for application acceptance and exam scheduling.Certifications expire on December 31 of the year of issue in St. Paul, and November 1 in Minneapolis. They can be renewed for the same cost as the original application fee in St. Paul, and $30 per category in Minneapolis.Master certificate holders are allowed to become contractors by obtaining a contractor’s license.
- Minneapolis – $271 – $400,000 insurance requirement – License application
- Paul – $160 – $500,000 insurance requirement – License application
Although the state does not require contractor licensing, if you do become a mechanical contractor you are required to file a $25,000 Mechanical Contractor bond with the state Department of Labor and Industries.
Other Cities in Minnesota Requiring Licenses or Certifications in HVAC Work
- Bloomington – Trade Testing and Contractor Licensing
- Cloud – Building Safety Department
Other Minnesota municipalities may have their own licensing or certification procedures; check with the city where you intend to practice for details.
Federal EPA Certification Requirements
HVAC work is not only regulated by state and local governments, but also by the Federal government. Section 608 of the Clean Air Act covers the use and handling of certain controlled gases, such as Freon and ammonia, which are commonly used in AC and refrigeration systems. The act mandates that anyone performing work or otherwise testing these systems receive a certification in order to do so in compliance with recovery and recycling standards.
There are four different types of Section 608 certification:
Almost all trade school or community college programs in HVAC-R include comprehensive coverage of the Section 608 requirements. Many of them include the test itself as a part of their core curriculum, allowing you to receive certification before you even actually graduate and enter the job market.
HVAC-R Job Prospects and Industry Growth in Minnesota
Minnesota’s construction industry projections are rated as steady by Finance and Commerce magazine, an outlook validated by the state’s own Employment and Economic Development council, which foresees only a moderate seven percent growth rate in the HVAC field over the next decade.
But those numbers only tell part of the story. The Finance and Commerce article also points out that many construction-related fields have a shortage of skilled labor available, a state of affairs that drives demand and increases wages for qualified technicians. An HVAC-R technician with a trade school certificate or an associate’s degree from a community college HVAC program can expect to have both better entry-level job prospects and a longer and more lucrative career in the industry.
HVAC Technician Salaries in Minnesota
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development considers HVAC technicians to be “in high demand” as of 2016. The profession pays significantly higher wages in Minnesota compared to the country as a whole.
The average salary for HVAC techs in the top 10% in Minnesota exceeded the national average for this category by 15.6%. HVAC technicians in this category in Minnesota earned an average salary of $80,413 ($38.66 hourly) as of 2016. The median salary among HVAC techs was $52,437 ($25.12 hourly).
HVAC technicians in the top 10% in Minneapolis-St. Paul earned even higher salaries than their colleagues in the rest of Minnesota. Their average salary exceeded the state’s average by 11.1%.
The median salary among HVAC techs in seven of the eight largest metropolitan areas in Minnesota exceeded the national median in 2015 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
HVAC Salaries in Minnesota’s Largest Cities
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the salaries of HVAC technicians throughout Minnesota as of 2015. The ranges below show the median to top 10% yearly and hourly earnings in each of the state’s major cities.
- Annual: $44,890 – $62,230
- Hourly: $21.88 – $29.92
- Annual: $55,310* – $72,910*
- Hourly: $26.59* – $36.98*
- Grand Forks
- Annual: $47,410* – $62,040
- Hourly: $22.79* – $29.83
- La Crosse
- Annual: $47,980* – $61,410
- Hourly: $23.07* – $29.52
- Mankato-North Mankato
- Annual: $51,180* – $72,770*
- Hourly: $24.60* – $34.98*
- Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington
- Annual: $55,930* – $88,500*
- Hourly: $26.89* – $42.55*
- Annual: $47,320* – $76,260*
- Hourly: $22.75* – $36.66*
- St. Cloud
- Annual: $46,470* – $67,210
- Hourly: $22.34* – $32.31
*Salaries that exceed the national median or top 10%.
Job Growth Projections for HVAC Technicians in Minnesota
The rate of job growth for HVAC technicians in Minnesota exceeds that of other occupations in the state according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The number of jobs for HVAC techs should increase by 7.1% between 2014 and 2024. Predictions suggest that this level of growth will add 570 jobs during this ten-year period.
HVAC Job Growth (2014-2024)
The Department predicts that the increase in the number of jobs will be double that of Minnesota’s average in three regions of the state:
- Southeast – 15.5%
- 7-County Minneapolis-St. Paul – 14.8%
- Central – 14.1%