What Do HVAC Certifications Mean?

March 25, 2022

When you’re looking for quality HVAC services, you likely want a technician that knows what they’re doing. Many service companies advertise expert staff, but how can you know for certain? One of the easiest ways to verify if an HVAC technician is knowledgeable is by looking for 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 a variety of HVAC certifications available. Some concentrate on a core body of knowledge technicians should have, while others are a result of industry standards for energy efficiency and sustainability. We’ll take a look at key details about some of the most common HVAC certifications you’ll see in your search for services.

NATE

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 assist 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 retake an exam every two years.

Total certification is a multiyear process made up of four separate tests. The first two are offered for entry-level technicians while the other set of exams provide full certification along with senior-level status:

  1. Ready-to-Work Certificate – This certificate offers core knowledge and skill sets that can supplement any education or training already completed. The Ready-to-Work certification is particularly beneficial for recent graduates of trades programs.
  2. HVAC Support Technician Certificate – After 6 to 12 months of experience, this exam is offered to teach fundamental topics relevant to full NATE certification.
  3. 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 systems.
  4. 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 the other in air conditioning—to be eligible to apply for the senior certificate.

ASHRAE

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers was organized in 1894. ASHRAE and its members offer research and education about HVAC equipment 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.

Many of ASHRAE standards are relevant to commercial properties and industrial facilities, as they frequently 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 studies how the engineering and architectural design of the building itself impacts energy use.

ACCA

Another national HVAC accreditation organization, the ACCA stands for Air Conditioning Contractors of America. This organization promotes rigorous training and facilitates sessions for technicians to complete 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 performed to ensure members maintain their proficiency.

ICE

Industry Competency Exams are handled 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 provided 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 courses for services like furnace installation, service or even knowledge of components. Commercial ICE certifications don’t include the core exam and will cover all relevant knowledge rather than specialty sections.

EPA Section 608

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 will be specific to the equipment the technician works with and administered by an approved organization.

HVAC Excellence

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 written for high school students who have completed qualifying HVAC education programs. Further 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 higher 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 seek out certifications to demonstrate their expertise. When you see a service company in Reinholds 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 need 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 Reinholds, consider requesting an appointment with County Line Mechanical LLC. Get in touch by giving us a call at 717-216-0846 today.