When you’re searching for quality HVAC services, you probably want a technician that knows what they’re doing. Many service companies advertise experienced staff, but how can you know for sure? One of the best ways to confirm if an HVAC technician has experience is by checking their certifications. HVAC certifications can demonstrate proficiency in services like air conditioning repair, installation and maintenance services as well as other key aspects of the industry.
There are many HVAC certifications available. Some prioritize a core body of knowledge technicians should possess, while others are a result of industry standards for energy efficiency and sustainability. We’ll compare key details about a few of the most common HVAC certifications you’ll find 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. Many organizations like the ACCA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency cooperate with the NATE program to standardize the certification exams. To pass, participants must meet a minimum score of 70%. To maintain NATE certification, technicians must receive continued education or retake an exam every two years.
Full certification is a multiyear process made up of four separate tests. The first two are created for entry-level technicians while the other set of exams provide full certification including senior-level status:
- Ready-to-Work Certificate – This certificate provides core knowledge and skill sets that can supplement 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 – Once 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 products.
- Senior-Level Efficiency Analyst Certification – Senior status is the highest NATE certification offered. Technicians need to be certified in two specialty services—one in heating and the other in air conditioning—to be eligible for applying for the senior certificate.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers Certification
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was created in 1894. ASHRAE and its members offer research and education about HVAC products 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 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 often have the highest rates of energy use. They’ll study 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.
Air Conditioning Contractors of America Certification
Another nationwide HVAC accreditation organization, the ACCA stands for Air Conditioning Contractors of America. This organization calls for rigorous training and facilitates sessions for technicians 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 found in residential properties like 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 conducted to ensure members maintain their proficiency.
Industry Compentency Exams
Industry Competency Exams are offered 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 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 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 rather than 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 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 systems the technician works with and administered by an approved organization.
The HVAC Excellence Certifications of Achievement encompass 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 offered for high school students who have completed qualifying HVAC education programs. Other testing is available for those seeking employment as well as for experienced technicians trying to get Professional or Master Specialist accreditation.
Why You Want Certified HVAC Technicians
When you receive 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 demonstrate their expertise. When you see a service company in Lake Forest 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 Lake Forest, consider requesting an appointment with 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning. Get in touch by giving us a call at 949-204-0859 today.