The state of Tennessee requires Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) companies and their employees to have current HVAC licenses to work on the heating and cooling systems for homes, apartments, and public or private buildings. The state requires applicants to take two tests, one related to general business practices in Tennessee; the other tests their competency for HVAC specifically. The state does not require a degree or completion of a formal academic or vocational program to become a licensed HVAC technician.
Although the state does not require evidence of training or apprenticeship, many people interested in a career in HVAC gain their competency in this field by going to a trade school. HVAC systems are complex equipment, especially the commercial units, requiring in-depth knowledge of electricity, plumbing and mechanical systems. HVAC training programs are offered at vocational schools, private schools, and online.
HVAC companies in Tennessee can hire employees without an HVAC license to work as an apprentice. The employees benefit by learning the trade while earning an income. The apprentice will assist a licensed technician with troubleshooting systems, installing new ones, reading blueprints, getting tools, helping to diagnose system problems or by doing paperwork.
Companies who hire apprentices prefer to hire someone with experience in construction. Knowledge of electrical systems and pipefitting are useful for the apprentice. Apprentices can also obtain study books while they work that will help them gain a deeper understanding of HVAC systems.
Tennessee requires two exams for the HVAC applicant. The first is a general test about business and law in Tennessee and the second is the actual HVAC exam. The business law test is an open book exam; the book is available at a state testing center or bookstore. Applicants have to pass both tests to become a licensed HVAC contractor in Tennessee. As of June 2010, HVAC licenses from Alabama are transferable to Tennessee. All other applicants must take both tests for licensing.