NATE Certification: What it Means for your HVAC
Whenever your HVAC system needs work, you want to find a trusted, reputable company with heating and cooling certification, that will send a licensed HVAC technician to do the work. You absolutely want to have the work done by a certified HVAC technician, but as a layperson, you may not know which certifications to look for in an HVAC company. One term with which you might not be familiar with is NATE certification, so let’s take a look at what it means for your HVAC system.
What is NATE Certification?
The acronym NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence, and NATE certification indicates that a technician has earned a superior rating of excellence, reliability, and knowledge in HVAC service. NATE is an organization that certifies heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians through a series of exams. It’s a coalition made up of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE®), working with a nationwide committee of experts in the HVAC industry to develop NATE certification testing. Drawing from their real world experience, the committee identifies Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs), and uses these to create the exams. Once a technician has passed all of the exams, he or she becomes NATE certified.
How do technicians become NATE-certified?
All of the tests must be passed with a 70 percent or higher, and different types of tests are offered to different technicians, depending on the level of certification they are pursuing. The first step in NATE certification is to pass two separate exams: the Ready-to-Work and HVAC Support Technician. These exams are designed for technicians to complete within the first six months to a year on the job, as they are just entering the field. After at least two years of working in the industry, having passed both of these exams, technicians are eligible to take one of two paths to become NATE certified.
- The traditional NATE certification pathway: Technicians take the NATE core exam and at least one NATE specialty exam, in an area in which they’d like to become certified.
- The Certified HVAC Professional (CHP–5) pathway: Technicians earn their certificates by passing five different exams. This series of exams includes HVAC fundamentals, electrical and controls, comfort and airflows, installation, and service.
Technicians who have earned the standard NATE certification have the option of earning a higher level of certification, the Senior Level Efficiency Analyst certificate. In order to take the senior level test, technicians must hold two specialty-level NATE HVAC certifications, one in heating and one in cooling.
How long does a NATE certification last?
A NATE certification typically lasts for two years. The exception to this rule is the ground source pump heat installer certification, which lasts for three years. Once their certification has expired, technicians must undergo further training and testing. Becoming recertified requires the completion of 16 continuing education hours on the NATE website, every two years, and the completion of the specialty exam before the certification expiration date. The reason behind this strenuous recertification process is simple: It is to equip technicians with the skills they need to stay up to date in their industry. This is done so that homeowners can be confident that NATE certification indicates a skilled, well-informed, well-educated technician.
Additional Certifications to Look for When Hiring a Technician
You don’t necessarily have to work with a NATE certified technician, but it’s always a good idea to have a technician with proven knowledge and expertise. Even if your technician is not NATE certified, make sure he or she has all the state and local licensing required to work on HVAC systems. Some other certifications that are of note, indicating a well-qualified technician, include:
- EPA 607 certification to handle refrigerants
- HVAC Quality Installation Standard
- HVAC Excellence certification.
The Benefits of NATE Certification
If you are looking for someone to work on your HVAC, NATE certification lets you know that a technician has displayed excellence in the field. Contractors and manufacturers prefer to work with NATE-certified technicians in new construction, retrofits, and other projects, because they know that they have the expertise necessary to do their job well. Because NATE certified technicians have years of experience and have passed both core and specialty tests to qualify, you can trust that working with them means the project will be completed successfully, on time, and on budget.
NATE technicians are trustworthy and knowledgeable, and they have real world knowledge as well as educational experience. A technician with this certification can reliably troubleshoot an HVAC system, and because of the frequent recertification, you can be confident that your technician is knowledgeable regarding any new developments or practices in the industry that could have an impact on your HVAC system. You can count on NATE certified technicians to install, service, and maintain you HVAC unit, to keep it running smoothly and save you from the hassle of costly repairs.
Trust the Certified Technicians at Triple-T
When your heater needs maintenance or repair, you can trust Triple-T Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing to keep your system in great shape. Since 1974, our family-owned and operated business has been committed to serving our community, providing the very best heating, air conditioning, air quality, and plumbing services. We’re dedicated to customer satisfaction, and we continually train our employees so that we’re always up to date with the latest technology. When you’re ready for “Service Beyond Expectations”, contact us for all your plumbing, air quality, and HVAC needs.