When you’re trying to find quality HVAC services, you usually want a technician that understands what they’re doing. Lots of service companies advertise experienced staff, but how can you know for sure? One of the best ways to verify if an HVAC technician is knowledgeable is by checking their certifications. HVAC certifications should demonstrate proficiency in services like air conditioning repair, installation and maintenance services as well as other central aspects of the industry.
There are many HVAC certifications available. Some concentrate on a core body of knowledge technicians should possess, while others are a result of industry standards for energy efficiency and sustainability. We’ll review key details about some of the most common HVAC certifications you’ll see in your search for services.
The North American Technician Excellence certification is the largest program for HVAC competency, with tens of thousands of certified technicians. Other organizations like the ACCA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency collaborate with the NATE program to standardize the certification testing. To pass, participating technicians must meet a minimum score of 70%. To maintain NATE certification, technicians must receive additional education or retake an exam every two years.
Full certification is a multiyear process consisting of four separate tests. The first two are offered for entry-level technicians while the final set of exams provide full certification and senior-level status:
- Ready-to-Work Certificate – This certificate offers core knowledge and skill sets that can add onto any education or training already completed. The Ready-to-Work certification is especially beneficial for recent graduates of trades programs.
- HVAC Support Technician Certificate – After 6 to 12 months of experience, this exam is offered to test proficiency on fundamental topics concerning full NATE certification.
- Core and Specialty Certification – After a technician has been in service for two or more years, they can be tested for full NATE certification. Participants will need to pass both the core exam as well as a specialty exam for installation or servicing specific kinds of HVAC products.
- Senior-Level Efficiency Analyst Certification – Senior status is the highest NATE certification available. Technicians have to be certified in two specialty services—one in heating and one in air conditioning—to be eligible to apply for the senior certificate.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was organized in 1894. ASHRAE and its members share research and education about HVAC equipment with the intent to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and high indoor air quality. Through their work, ASHRAE creates industry standards with federal recognition. These standards apply not only to HVAC equipment, but to the buildings themselves as well as their other systems.
The majority of ASHRAE standards are concerned with commercial properties and industrial facilities, as they often have the highest rates of energy use. They’ll determine how HVAC system design can be improved as well as how equipment should be installed and serviced. ASHRAE also monitors how the engineering and architectural design of the building itself impacts energy use.
Another nationwide HVAC accreditation organization, the ACCA stands for Air Conditioning Contractors of America. This organization promotes rigorous training and hosts sessions for technicians to complete both on-site and online. Contractors looking for accreditation have two programs to pick from:
- The Existing Homes Program for Residential Service and Installation (RSI): This track ensures technicians can install, replace and maintain HVAC equipment common in residential properties including homes and apartments.
- The New Homes Program: The New Homes track prioritizes designing and installing HVAC systems with ENERGY STAR®-certified equipment for qualifying homes. Random audits are performed to ensure members maintain their proficiency.
Industry Competency Exams are administered by NATE to make sure technicians meet industry standards for entry-level (one year or less) experience. These are separate from the NATE certification exams but cover similar topics. Testing is offered for residential HVAC equipment as well as light commercial heating and cooling. Separate tests are even available for commercial refrigeration.
To be ICE-certified for residential equipment, technicians will have to pass both a core exam as well as specialty courses for services like furnace installation, service or even knowledge of components. Commercial ICE certifications don’t include the core exam and will review all relevant knowledge instead of specialty sections.
EPA Section 608
The Environmental Protection Agency provides in-depth regulations for the HVAC industry. One of the most well-known sets of regulations is the federal Clean Air Act. Under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, the EPA requires technicians who work with equipment capable of releasing refrigerants to pass a certification test. To earn the Section 608 Technician Certification, the test will be specific to the products the technician works with and administered by an approved organization.
The HVAC Excellence Certifications of Achievement cover a broad range of competency tests for different levels of proficiency in the HVAC industry. For example, the Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology (H.E.A.T.) + student outcome assessments are offered for high school students who have completed qualifying HVAC education programs. Additional testing is offered for those seeking employment as well as for experienced technicians trying to get Professional or Master Specialist accreditation.
The Benefits of Certified HVAC Technicians
When you request service from technicians who are certified by organizations like NATE, ASHRAE and the ACCA, you’re giving your HVAC system a better standard of service. Benefits of hiring certified HVAC technicians include:
Demonstrates proficiency and dedication: Technicians who are dedicated to their customers’ sense of comfort will earn certifications to improve their expertise. When you find a service company in Savage offering NATE- or ICE-certified staff, you’ll know they go the extra mile to improve their services such as air conditioning installation.
Can help lower costs and speed up services: Professionals who devote the time and resources required for these certifications often take up less time and fewer resources when servicing your equipment. Not only can things like furnace repair, maintenance and installation proceed more quickly, but the faster progress can also lower labor expenses.
If you’re looking for certified HVAC services in Savage, consider requesting an appointment with Gopher Heating and Air Conditioning. Get in touch by giving us a call at 952-373-0377 today.