Median salaries for HVAC techs in Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City, and St. Louis are particularly strong, exceeding the national median.US Bureau of Labor StatisticsIn Missouri, HVAC technicians and contractors are licensed at the county level for various types of HVAC work, but no state-level license is offered.
Whether you are in one of those counties or not, HVAC is becoming a competitive business to get started in and employers are looking for technicians with a rock-solid background in HVAC theory and practice.
Today’s high-efficiency HVAC systems have precise tolerances and demanding installation requirements, and the skills to install and maintain them requires training.
Many employers prefer to hire applicants who have already graduated from a trade school or community college program in HVAC-R. Earning a certificate of completion, career diploma or AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree provides concrete evidence that you have studied and understood the basic elements of handling HVAC work, making you a solid investment for the employer.
Additionally, formal training programs often include federally-mandated EPA Section 608 certification required for working with controlled refrigerants commonly found in refrigeration and AC systems.
How to Qualify for a St. Louis County Mechanical License
St. Louis County has some of the most stringent requirements for HVAC licensing in the state. The county’s Board of Examiners for Mechanical Licensing uses an apprenticeship system to ensure that all candidates for mechanical licenses are well-qualified by both hours of classroom education and practical on-the-job experience.
There are three types of mechanical license offered, three of which are applicable to HVAC work:
To qualify to take the test for the journeyman HVAC Servicer-Installer license, you must have accumulated at least 7500 hours in combined education and experience in the field via one of the following routes:
- Enroll in an apprenticeship program in the St. Louis metro area approved by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training of the United States Department of Labor as a licensed apprentice (a list of approved programs is included on the apprenticeship license application).
- Enroll in another apprenticeship program totaling at least 7500 hours of combined on-the-job and classroom training conducted by a series of approved trade school programs (a list of approved programs is included on the apprenticeship license application), subject to approval by the board.
- Apply for an individual training program apprenticeship, which requires 7500 combined on-the-job and classroom training hours, with at least 540 of the training hours provided by an accredited institution, subject to approval by the board.
You must obtain a county apprenticeship license for $10 in order to begin any of those paths to earning your qualifying experience. You can download the application online here, but it must be submitted in person at the Public Works Department in Clayton, 41 South Central Avenue, 6th floor.
When you have completed your apprenticeship hours, you can obtain and file an application from the same site for your journeyman’s license. The fee is $45 and the application must also be submitted in person in Clayton.
You will have to provide verification of your apprenticeship hours for the application to be accepted. If you are from out-of-state, and can otherwise substantiate a total of 7500 hours of job experience, you may also be allowed to sit the test, which is administered by the International Code Council.
There is no master level license, but if you accumulate an additional three years of supervisory experience as a licensed journeyman you can apply for a Mechanical Contractor’s license (you must be supervising at least 1 other journeyman for this experience to count, not just apprentices). The license fee is $100. There is no test involved but you are required to take out and hold a $10,000 bond to operate under the contractor’s license.
Licenses are good for three years and journeymen must submit proof of at least 24 hours of continuing education during the previous license period to be renewed. A list of approved continuing education providers is available on the board website.
There is also a separate Residential HVAC Servicer-Installer Journeyman license, which differs in having less stringent qualification requirements. It requires 7500 hours of residential HVAC experience whether through a formal apprenticeship program or other on-the-job experience (no classroom hours required).
How to Qualify for a St. Charles County Mechanical License in Missouri
St. Charles County does not license HVAC technicians, but does require that HVAC contractors obtain a county mechanical contractor’s license. Licenses are offered at two different levels:
You will have to pass the relevant International Code Council test for the license level you are seeking, either:
- W29- National Standard Master Mechanical, for Class A
- W31- National Standard Journeyman Mechanical, for Class B
The ICC tests are administered online through Pearson VUE and cost $100 to take. Pre-approval is not necessary so you can apply for and take the tests before submitting your application. The application fee will be $25 and the license fee is $200 assuming you pass the test and meet the other requirements.
A $10,000 bond and $500,000 in liability insurance are also required.
Licenses are good for two years and expire on December 31 of even-numbered years. Renewals are $200 for each two-year period.
Other Cities and Counties in Missouri With HVAC License Requirements
Various other municipalities in Missouri have their own HVAC licensing requirements, either for contractors, technicians, or both. Some of these include:
St. Charles County is a good example of the kind of homework you will need to do as an HVAC technician when looking into license requirements in Missouri, however. Although the county does not require technicians to obtain a license, the city of St. Charles itself does require that any person engaging in HVAC work in the city obtain a Tinner’s License for a $50 fee, with another $50 to renew each year.
With a patchwork of licensing rules, the only way to ensure you have to right combination of credentials will be to contact the local cities and counties where you plan to work. Most contractors will already be familiar with these rules, so your employer should be able to help you out.
Federal Environmental Protection Agency Certification Requirements
Even though Missouri itself doesn’t have any restrictions on what work individuals may perform on HVAC systems, the federal government does have something to say about anyone working on systems using particular types of controlled refrigerants. Section 608 of the Clean Air Act regulates the use of refrigerant gases such as Freon and ammonia and any technician servicing system using those gases is required to have a Section 608 certification to legally work on them.
There are four different categories of Section 608 certification:
Earning these certifications requires passing a test mandated by the EPA. The EPA does not offer the test directly, but instead relies on third parties to conduct the examinations, which means you can find vendors almost anywhere, including online, that offer the tests. However, most HVAC trade school programs provide not only the opportunity to take the Section 608 test as part of the program, but also teach directly to the test, so you will have all the information you need to pass on the first try.
HVAC Technician Salaries in Missouri
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center reported that experienced HVAC technicians in the state earned an average salary of $57,759 ($27.77 hourly) as of 2015. The median salary among HVAC techs in Missouri that year was $46,097 ($22.16).
HVAC Technician Salary in Missouri (median)
HVAC Technician Salary in Missouri (experienced)
Median salaries for HVAC techs in Columbia, Joplin, Kansas City, and St. Louis are particularly strong, exceeding the national median according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, HVAC techs in Kansas City earning in the top 10% made $22,260 more than the national average for this bracket.
HVAC Technician Salaries in Missouri’s Largest Cities
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides salaries for HVAC technicians throughout Missouri as of 2015. The ranges below show the median to top 10% yearly and hourly earnings in each of the state’s major cities.
*Salaries that exceed the national median or top 10%.
High Job Growth Rates for HVAC Technicians in Missouri
Missouri’s Economic Research & Information Center included HVAC technicians among the fastest growing occupations between 2015 and 2017 in the two largest metropolitan areas in the state:
- 5th fastest growing occupation in Kansas City
- 13th fastest growing occupation in St. Louis
The number of jobs for HVAC technicians in Missouri grew more than 2 times faster than the state’s overall average job growth rate between 2014 and 2024. Missouri’s Economic Research & Information Center expects a 13.12% increase in the number of jobs for HVAC techs during this ten-year period, generating 1,383 new positions over this time frame.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the building construction industry is the top employer of HVAC techs nationwide. With the US Bureau of Economic Analysis reporting that the construction industry’s contribution to Missouri’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) exceeded $10 billion during the first quarter of 2016, the impact could be seen in the number of new jobs added for HVAC techs that year.
In fact, Missouri experienced the 17th highest increase in construction jobs in the country between November 2015 and 2016.
The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center reported that the Kansas City region will experience exceptionally fast growth in the construction industry between 2015 and 2017. In fact, nine of the 20 fastest growing occupations in this metropolitan area fall within the category of construction trades, HVAC technicians being among them.