What Is NATE Certification?
When you hire an HVAC contractor, you want to know you’re getting the most capable technicians you can find. That is why you want to be sure your HVAC contractor is NATE certified. You may have seen the NATE certification symbol proudly displayed by your HVAC contractor but you are not sure what it means.
“NATE” is the abbreviation for North American Technician Excellence. Founded in 1997, it is an independent, third-party non-profit certification body for HVAC technicians. NATE is the largest such organization in the United States. NATE is owned, operated, developed, and supported by the HVAC industry. Participation in NATE is voluntary. HVAC employers prefer hiring NATE-certified technicians because they know how to do the job right the first time and are more productive than non-certified technicians.
HVAC technicians often start their career path with formal vocational and classroom training. Once on the job, they receive further training from their employers and may seek NATE certification. NATE’s primary purpose is to test technicians on their working knowledge of HVAC systems. NATE’s written tests are designed to assess technicians’ understanding of all areas in the HVAC industry, including gas furnaces, air conditioning, heat pumps, oil furnaces, air distribution, and more. The tests are designed by industry experts.
NATE Core and Specialty Tests
An HVAC technician can seek multiple NATE certifications. There are 22 different NATE exams, as described below. The NATE certifications are available beginning in at the entry level and early stages of an HVAC technician’s career and continue through the professional and senior levels. The NATE certification exams are rigorous and require a significant level of expertise on the part of the technician to pass. The exams are developed by the NATE technical committee comprised of contractors, educators, manufacturers, and utility representatives from all areas of the country. They test a wide range of HVAC installation and service knowledge.
To become NATE-certified, a technician must pass a core test and one specialty test.
The Core test covers the technician’s general knowledge, construction knowledge, and HVAC knowledge in the areas of safety, tools, soft skills, heat transfer, comfort, and electrical systems.
The technician will choose which path to follow: installation or service. The specialty certification exam would be in either the installation or service path, according to the technician’s chosen path. Specialty exams cover the candidate’s knowledge of the installation, service maintenance, and/or repair of HVAC and refrigeration systems.
Certifications in the following specialties are available:
Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
Light Commercial Refrigeration
HVAC Efficiency Analyst (for senior level technicians)
Most NATE certifications expire after five years. To re-certify, the technician must either complete 60 hours of education or retake the NATE test. This requirement ensures that HVAC technicians stay current on technological developments in the HVAC field.
Don’t DIY It with Your HVAC System
Your HVAC system is not your father’s HVAC system. The technology in your HVAC system is changing rapidly, just like it is in everything. Servicing your system yourself can cost you big in the long run. Instead of trying to DIY your HVAC repairs, or go cheap, you will save money in the long run by hiring a NATE certified contractor.
The vast majority of homeowners believe having a certified technician repair or install their home comfort system is important. The NATE certification is a demonstration of the technician’s proficiency and excellence and helps ensure customer satisfaction.
Don’t DIY it or live in less-than-comfortable situations because you don’t trust the contractor to do the job properly. Use a NATE certified contractor to retrofit or install new systems and have confidence in the contractor’s expertise and professionalism.
Consult a NATE Certified HVAC Contractor
If you want to put yourself in the hands of a highly qualified HVAC contractor, talk to a NATE certified contractor for more information and to schedule an evaluation of your needs. Whether you need maintenance on your current system or are thinking of replacing it, a NATE certified contractor can make recommendations based on the latest developments in the industry.
Now you know that you have very good reasons to hire a NATE certified HVAC contractor. When you hire one, you know that the technician working on your system has passed NATE’s rigorous, national industry exams that measure the technician’s applied knowledge in specific areas. You know that obtaining NATE certification requires a significant commitment of time and resources on the part of the technician and the technician’s employer to the HVAC industry. You can be confident that any contractor who has done what it takes to become NATE certified is a leader in the industry. In sum, NATE certification ensures a higher level of understanding of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems and creates a safer and healthier environment for all of us.
For top quality service and advice on your HVAC system, call a NATE certified contractor today.