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In Pennsylvania, HVAC professionals with earnings in the top 10% among their fellow tradesmen make an average annual salary of $65,640, or $31.56 an hour.US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015
Pennsylvania has no state-level licensing requirements for HVAC technicians or contractors. However, some municipalities have established local licensing requirements for individual HVAC contractors and contracting companies.

Without state-imposed requirements to meet for initial licensing, getting started in the field is all about preparing to be a strong entry-level job candidate.

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There are clear benefits that come with hands-on HVAC technical training and classroom instruction through a technical college or trade school program:

  • Gain the technical skills employers are looking for in entry-level job candidates
  • Demonstrate commitment to the trade and aptitude based on your performance in the program
  • Make contacts in the industry and enjoy an easier transition into the workforce through job placement assistance
  • Gain federally-mandated EPA Section 608 certification required of anybody working with controlled refrigerants

Federally Mandated EPA Certification Requirements

Under the federal rules of the Clean Air Act, only certified professionals are allowed to test line pressure, add, or otherwise work with certain controlled refrigerants commonly found in HVAC and refrigeration systems. Due to the ozone depleting properties of Freon and ammonia-based refrigerants, proper handling protocols must be followed for recovering, recycling and reclaiming these chemicals.

Employers often look for entry-level HVAC technicians to hold the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Section 608 Certification. Most HVAC technical school programs provide test preparation and proctor the exam that leads to Section 608 certification.

There are four EPA section 608 certification options:

Small Appliances. This covers small appliances that are manufactured, charged, and hermetically sealed with five pounds or less of refrigerants

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.

Municipality-Specific HVAC Contractor License Requirements

The HVAC licensure process in Pennsylvania is highly fragmented and inconsistent. While some municipalities have licensing requirements, some have none. What remains consistent, however, is that no clear licensing requirements exist for apprentices or technicians. Only HVAC contractors must be licensed/registered in Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh HVAC Contractor Requirements

Pittsburgh registers HVAC contractors. To qualify for an HVAC contractor license, you must be at least 18 years old and provide evidence that you have completed at least 4 years of experience in HVAC construction. To apply, you must:

  • Take and pass the International Code Council #670 Certification for PA Standard Master Mechanical Exam
  • Complete the HVAC Contractor Registration Application
  • $371 application fee (made payable to Treasurer, City of Pittsburgh)
  • Provide proof of contractor’s general liability insurance (showing City of Pittsburgh as certificate holder)
  • Proof of registration for all city taxes

Pittsburgh HVAC contractor licenses are renewed annually at a cost of $278.

Altoona HVAC Contractor Requirements

If you conduct HVAC residential work, you will only need to hold a PA Home Improvement Contractor’s (PHIC) license. If you conduct commercial work (or both residential and commercial work), you will also need to carry a City of Altoona Contractor’s license.

You must also provide hold a Certificate of Insurance and worker’s compensation insurance if you have any employees. The application fee is $50. No examination is required to become an HVAC contractor in Altoona.

Philadelphia HVAC Contractor Requirements

In Philadelphia, HVAC contractors are required to hold one or more of the following licenses:

  • Warm Air Installer license
  • Engineer license
    • Grade A: Steam Boiler, Stationary, and Refrigeration Engineer
    • Grade B: Refrigeration Engineer
    • Grade C: Portable Stationary Engineer
    • Grade D; Fireman (Boiler Operator)

To qualify for the Warm Air Installer or Engineer license, you must:

  • Must be at least 21 years of age
  • Must pass the appropriate examination from the International Code Council (within one year of license application)
  • Must provide proof of business license, general liability insurance, and workers’ compensation (if you have any employees)
  • Must complete the Warm Air Installer License and/or the Engineer License
  • Pay the appropriate application fee: $50 for the Warm Air Installer License and $25 for each engineer grade

On July 1, 2009, Senate Bill 100—the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act—took effect. The law requires most home improvement contractors to register with the PA Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

All contractors, including those doing HVAC servicing and installs, must complete a Home Improvement Contractor Registration application and pay a $50 application fee. You will register as one of the following:

  • Individual
  • Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company
  • Limited Partnership
  • General Partnership
  • Joint Venture

Along with your application, you must provide proof of liability insurance of at least $50,000 and property damage insurance of at least $50,000.

You will be issued a unique PA Home Improvement Contractor Number (PAHIC #) that you must include with all estimates, proposals, and advertisements.

Pennsylvania’s Clean Energy Projects Spell Opportunity for HVAC Professionals

Green energy jobs now account for about 66,000 direct positions in Pennsylvania (more than 13,000 jobs in Pittsburgh alone), up 15 percent from 2014, according to a 2016 report entitled “Clean Jobs Pennsylvania” published by BW Research Partnership and sponsored by the Environmental Entrepreneurs and the Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance.

Repairman Checking Outside Air Conditioning Unit For Voltage

According to the report, clean energy jobs were found in every Pennsylvania county, congressional district, and state legislative district.

Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, said that some of the top jobs in green energy include upgrading HVAC systems, improving energy efficient lighting, and installing insulation in homes, schools, and commercial and industrial sites. Jobs in these areas account for about 53,000 clean energy jobs.

To get a better idea of the size and importance of the clean energy industry in Pennsylvania, consider that just 36,500 Pennsylvanians work in the mining, oil, and gas industries combined. Nearly 6,000 clean-energy companies contribute to Pennsylvania’s economy.

HVAC Technician Salaries in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, HVAC professionals with earnings in the top 10% among their fellow tradesmen make an average annual salary of $65,640, or $31.56 an hour. The median salary for HVAC technicians in the state is $46,000, or $22.12 an hour (US Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015).

In Bethlehem, Lancaster, York, Erie, Scranton, Philadelphia, and Union, the recorded salaries were higher than the national average.

An energy sector boom in Pennsylvania helped boost the construction industry over the past few years, adding jobs in urban areas (Construction Executive “2017 Regional Construction Outlook, December 2016).

The job market in Pennsylvania is projected to rise by 11.4% from 2012-2024, adding 1,520 new jobs to the construction industry—or an average number of 360 new jobs per year (Pennsylvania Center for Workforce Information & Analysis).

HVAC Technician Salaries in Pennsylvania’s Largest Cities

We’ve included data from the US Department of Labor showing annual salaries and hourly wages of HVAC technicians in fifteen of Pennsylvania’s largest cities. This ranges shown here represents the median to the top 10% for each city.

  • Union

    • Annual: $57,650* – $90,660*
    • Hourly: $26.24* – $50.77*
  • Philadelphia

    • Annual: $54,580* – $105,600*
    • Hourly: $26.24* – $50.77*
  • Erie

    • Annual: $50,400*- $61,650
    • Hourly: $24.23* – $29.64
  • York

    • Annual: $47,790* – $67,110
    • Hourly: $22.97* – $32.26
  • Lancaster

    • Annual: $46,590* – $66,190
    • Hourly: $22.40* – $31.82
  • Bethlehem

    • Annual: $45,960* – $62,640
    • Hourly: $22.09* – $30.11
  • Scranton

    • Annual: $45,270* – $69,130
    • Hourly: $21.77* – $33.24
  • Lebanon

    • Annual: $44,460 – $58,520
    • Hourly: $21.37 – $28.14
  • Harrisburg

    • Annual: $44,040 – $58,520
    • Hourly: $21.17 – $29.07
  • Pittsburgh

    • Annual: $43,770 – $61,320
    • Hourly: $21.04 – $29.48
  • Reading

    • Annual: $43,580 – $60,640
    • Hourly: $20.95 – $29.15
  • Williamsport

    • Annual: $39,580 – $57,900
    • Hourly: $19.03 – $27.84
  • Altoona

    • Annual: $38,550 – $55,330
    • Hourly: $18.54 – $26.60
  • State College

    • Annual: $37,250 – $56,510
    • Hourly: $17.91 – $27.17
  • Youngstown-Warren-Boardman

    • Annual: $42,830 – $68,280
    • Hourly: $20.59 – $32.83

*Salaries that are higher than the national median or top 10%.