The state is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified construction workers, with 4 out of 5 contractors reporting vacant positions.The Salt Lake TribuneThere are no state-level requirements for HVAC-R technicians in Utah, so getting started in the field is all about being a well-qualified entry-level job candidate.
Without some training in modern HVAC technology, you may never progress past an entry-level assistant position with an HVAC shop, while others with more training will earn more money and take on greater responsibility as they advance.
Almost all HVAC school training programs include classes designed specifically to prepare you to pass the examination, with graduates showing very high first-time exam pass rates.
Succeeding in HVAC work in Utah today is all about what you know. An associate’s degree from a community college or a career diploma from a trade school provides a tried and tested route into a long and lucrative career in HVAC-R.
Common Certification for HVAC Technicians in Utah
EPA Certification Requirements – Named after the part of the Clean Air Act that requires it, a Section 608 certification can come in one of four different categories:
Acquiring any of these involves passing a qualifying examination, usually administered by a local trade school or HVAC distributor. Exam fees vary but usually are less than $100.
Gas Certification Requirements – Another optional certification that is a career-booster for HVAC-R technicians in Utah is the Rocky Mountain Gas Association certification. In 2002, the Utah State Legislature passed laws requiring any technician working on gas appliances to possess such a certification.
Again, most school and training programs in Utah cover this subject and will proctor the 3-hour certification examination for around $100.
How to Become an HVAC Contractor in Utah
Although you don’t need a license to be an HVAC technician in Utah, you can only perform HVAC work under a contractor who possesses an S350 HVAC Contractor’s license.
At some point in your career, you may decide you want to branch out on your own instead of working for someone else. Assuming you have good business skills, a solid education in HVAC principles, and enough experience to qualify, you can become an independent contractor and call all the shots in your own HVAC business.
To do so, you will have to obtain your own S350 license from the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL).
The S350 (the S stands for Specialty) series actually has 5 different sub-classifications reflecting additional specializations.
S350 - HVAC Contractor
A general category covering all HVAC specializations except for S354.
S351 - Refrigerated Air Conditioning Contractor
Covers fabrication and installation of refrigeration systems designed to control air temperatures below 50 degrees
S352 - Evaporative Cooling Contractor
Covers installation and maintenance of evaporative cooling systems
S353 - Warm Air Heating Contractor
Covers layout and fabrication of ducting, furnaces, and piping as necessary for a warm air heating system
S354 - Radon Mitigation Contractor
Covers installation and operation of radon mitigation systems.
Unless you intend to specialize, however, the S350 classification is the best choice.
Steps to Meeting the S350 Contractor Requirements
Before you apply with the DOPL, you will have to meet a number of important requirements. DOPL provides a convenient checklist to be filled out prior to making your application to ensure that you have met all the basic qualifications.
Utah uses the concept of a qualifier to verify experience and expertise for the license. This does not have to be the business owner, but must be either at least a 20 percent stakeholder or a W2 employee working for at least 10 hours a week. In most cases, you will want to be your own qualifier, but if you have not personally accumulated the training or experience standards to qualify for a contractor’s license, you can hire or partner with someone who has.
If the qualifier leaves the company, however, you have only sixty days to find a replacement.
The qualifier must accumulate two years of proven experience totaling at least 4000 hours in the past ten years.
Pass a Trade Exam
The qualifier must pass the S350 trade examination. The examination is administered by third-party testing agency PSI. You can register and take the test online, or at one of three exam sites in the state. The exam fee is $72. PSI offers a study guide and example questions to help you prepare for the test. You are allowed four hours to complete 100 questions and must achieve a 70 percent to pass.
Pass a Jurisprudence Exam
The qualifier has to pass a State of Utah Laws and Rules examination, also administered by PSI. The exam fee is $72. You can take this test at the same time as the trade exam. The test has 60 questions and must be completed in two hours, also with a 70 percent required to pass.
Complete a Pre-License Education Course
The qualifier has to take a 20-hour pre-license education course covering accounting and general business practices. The state does not offer this course directly, but provides a list of approved providers. Costs vary but are in the range of $300. Alternatively, proof of a degree in construction management is acceptable in lieu of taking the pre-license course.
You will also have to obtain general liability coverage for the company of at least $100,000 per incident and $300,000 in aggregate.
When all those requirements have been fulfilled, you can submit your application form. There is a $210 non-refundable application fee and a $195 lien recovery fee due when the application is filed.
After the application is accepted, your company will have to be bonded with a surety of $50,000 by a licensed bonding company.
Reciprocal HVAC Contractor Licenses in Utah
Utah does not offer direct reciprocal licenses for HVAC contractors, but it does accept HVAC tests from some other states as equivalent to the S350 trade examination. If you have passed any of those exams, you do not have to re-take the Utah test.
Utah will accept examinations from the following states:
The state is also willing to accept experience accumulated as a license holder in any of those states as counting toward the verified experience requirement for the S350 license.
HVAC Contractor License Renewals in Utah
All contractor licenses in Utah are good for a two-year period. The state uses fixed expirations, which means that all licenses expire on November 30th of all odd-numbered years, regardless of when you first acquired the license. So your first renewal may come up quickly.
However, if you obtain your license within four months of the renewal date, you will not have to renew for that period.
Thereafter, you will have to pay $113 renewal fee and document at least 6 hours of continuing education from a DOPL-approved provider. You can find a list of those providers here.
All renewals are handled online at the DOPL website.
No Shortage of Opportunities for HVAC Techs and Contractors in Utah
HVAC installation and maintenance still involves some serious manual labor, but the field has shifted with the times. Today, working as an HVAC technician is more about understanding digital sensors, computerized climate control, and integrated building management systems. New and exotic refrigerants require an understanding of chemistry and math.
And there will be plenty of work to go around for the foreseeable future in Utah.
HVAC Technician Salaries in Utah
The top 10% of HVAC technicians in Utah make an average annual salary of $74,380, or $35.76 an hour. The median salary in Utah is $47,010, or $22.60 (US Department of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2015).
In Salt Lake City, Provo, and Monticello, the recorded salaries were higher than the national median or top 10% of HVAC technicians.
In 2016, Utah’s construction industry had been expanding for five consecutive years. In fact, in 2013, 2014, and 2015, the construction industry grew by 20% each year (Utah Business, “Utah’s Construction Industry Marks 5 Years of Post-Recession Growth”, 2016).
2013 Job Growth
2014 Job Growth
2015 Job Growth
From the twelve-year span between 2012 and 2024, the job market for HVAC technicians in Utah is expected to grow by 33.8%, adding roughly 970 jobs to the field. This amounts to 140 new job openings in the HVAC field per year (Utah Department of Workforce Services).
According to the Utah Department of Workforce Services, the HVAC profession in the state “is expected to experience faster than average employment growth with a high volume of annual job openings.” The Salt Lake Metro area is expected to add the most jobs, while the Provo-Orem area will be close behind.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services also noted that “Job opportunities for HVAC technicians are expected to be excellent, particularly for those who have completed training at an accredited technical school or through an apprenticeship.”
HVAC Technician Salaries in Utah’s Largest Cities
We’ve recorded the median to top 10% of HVAC salaries in seven of Utah’s largest cities. Broken down by average annual wages and hourly figures, this data is sourced from the US Department of Labor.
*Salaries that are higher than the national median or top 10%.