When you’re trying to find quality HVAC services, you generally want a technician that understands what they’re doing. Many service companies advertise experienced staff, but how can you know for sure? One of the easiest ways to check 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 core aspects of the industry.
There are multiple HVAC certifications available. Some are designed around a core body of knowledge professionals should possess, while others are a result of industry standards for energy efficiency and sustainability. We’ll compare key details about some of the most common HVAC certifications you’ll see in your search for services.
North American Technician Excellence Certification
The North American Technician Excellence certification is the largest program for HVAC proficiency, with tens of thousands of certified technicians. Many organizations like the ACCA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency assist with the NATE program to standardize the certification tests. To pass, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 70%. To maintain NATE certification, technicians must receive additional education or take another exam every two years.
Total certification is a multiyear process consisting of four separate tests. The first two are specific for entry-level technicians while the second set of exams provide full certification along with senior-level status:
- Ready-to-Work Certificate – This certificate provides core knowledge and skill sets that can reaffirm any education or training already completed. The Ready-to-Work certification is especially beneficial for recent graduates of trade programs.
- HVAC Support Technician Certificate – After 6 to 12 months of experience, this exam is offered to teach fundamental topics concerning full NATE certification.
- Core and Specialty Certification – After a technician has been in service for two or more years, they can receive 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 systems.
- Senior-Level Efficiency Analyst Certification – Senior status is the highest NATE certification available. Technicians should be certified in two specialty services—one in heating and another in air conditioning—to be eligible for applying for the senior certificate.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was founded in 1894. ASHRAE and its members provide research and education about HVAC products with the intent to encourage sustainability, energy efficiency and high indoor air quality. Through their work, ASHRAE creates industry standards with federal recognition. These standards are applicable not only to HVAC equipment, but to the buildings themselves as well as their other systems.
Most of ASHRAE standards are concerned with commercial properties and industrial facilities, as they frequently have the highest rates of energy expenditure. They’ll determine how HVAC system design can be improved as well as how equipment should be installed and serviced. ASHRAE also studies 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 calls for rigorous training and conducts sessions for members to attend both on-site and online. Contractors wanting accreditation have two programs to choose 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 specializes in designing and installing HVAC systems with ENERGY STAR®-certified equipment for qualifying homes. Random audits are conducted to make sure members maintain their expertise.
NATE’s ICE Standardized Testing
Industry Competency Exams are administered by NATE to make sure technicians meet industry standards for entry-level (one year or less) experience. These are distinguished from the NATE certification exams but review similar topics. Testing is available for residential HVAC equipment as well as light commercial heating and cooling. Separate tests are also 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.
Section 608 of the EPA’s Clean Air Act
The Environmental Protection Agency provides substantial 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 handle equipment capable of releasing refrigerants to pass a certification test. To earn the Section 608 Technician Certification, the test will be specific to the equipment the technician works with and administered by an approved organization.
The HVAC Excellence Certifications of Achievement cover a broad range of competency tests for varying levels of proficiency in the HVAC industry. For example, the Heating, Electrical, Air Conditioning Technology (H.E.A.T.) + student outcome assessments are designed for high school students who have completed qualifying HVAC education programs. Other testing is offered for those seeking employment as well as for experienced technicians seeking Professional or Master Specialist accreditation.
The Best Service Comes from 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 choosing certified HVAC technicians include:
Demonstrates proficiency and dedication: Technicians who are committed to their customers’ sense of comfort will seek out certifications to improve their expertise. When you see a service company in Covington 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 reduce costs and speed up services: Technicians who spend the time and resources necessary 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 Covington, consider requesting an appointment with Covington Air Systems. Get in touch by giving us a call at (770) 462-5319 today.