When you’re searching for quality HVAC services, you likely want a technician that knows what they’re doing. Lots of service companies advertise experienced staff, but how can you know for certain? One of the most consistent ways to check if an HVAC technician has experience is by checking their certifications. HVAC certifications should demonstrate proficiency in services like air conditioning repair, installation and maintenance services as well as other important aspects of the industry.
There are multiple HVAC certifications available. Some are designed around a core body of knowledge technicians should have, 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 find in your search for services.
North American Technician Excellence Certification
The North American Technician Excellence certification is the largest program for HVAC competency, with tens of thousands of certified technicians. Many organizations like the ACCA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency collaborate with the NATE program to standardize the certification testing. To pass, applicants must meet a minimum score of 70%. To maintain NATE certification, technicians must receive continuing education or take another exam every two years.
Full certification is a multiyear process made up of four separate tests. The first two are designed for entry-level technicians while the final 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 test proficiency on fundamental topics concerning full NATE certification.
- Core and Specialty Certification – Once a technician has been in service for two or more years, they can be tested for full NATE certification. Technicians 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 need to be certified in two specialty services—one in heating and another in air conditioning—to be eligible to apply for the senior certificate.
Certification from ASHRAE
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was founded in 1894. ASHRAE and its members share research and education about HVAC products with the intent to promote sustainability, energy efficiency and healthy 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.
Most of ASHRAE standards are relevant to commercial properties and industrial facilities, as they frequently have the highest rates of energy expenditure. They’ll study how HVAC system design can be improved as well as how equipment should be installed and maintained. ASHRAE also monitors how the engineering and architectural design of the building itself affects energy use.
Another nationwide HVAC accreditation organization, the ACCA stands for Air Conditioning Contractors of America. This organization promotes rigorous training and conducts sessions for participants to complete both on-site and online. Contractors hoping for accreditation have two programs to select 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 such as 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 completed to make sure members maintain their proficiency.
Industry Compentency Exams
Industry Competency Exams are handled 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 encompass similar topics. Testing is available 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 need to pass both a core exam as well as specialty sections 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 comprehensive 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 should be specific to the equipment the technician works with and administered by an approved organization.
The HVAC Excellence Certifications of Achievement encompass 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 written for high school students who have completed qualifying HVAC education programs. Additional testing is available for those seeking employment as well as for experienced technicians seeking Professional or Master Specialist accreditation.
Why You Want Certified HVAC Professionals
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 demonstrate their expertise. When you find a service company in Houston 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: Technicians who devote the time and resources needed 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 reduce labor expenses.
If you’re looking for certified HVAC services in Houston, consider requesting an appointment with Air Current AC & Heat. Get in touch by giving us a call at 713-322-4318 today.