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There are three types of certification that HVAC technicians can obtain as professionals. Some states require technicians to become licensed and certified by passing exams, and the federal government regulates certification in the Code of Federal Regulations Section 608 of the Clean Air Act.

HVAC certification means that a HVAC service technician is highly trained and qualified to perform installation and repair tasks. Technicians can become certified after passing exams that test a technician’s knowledge of the trade.

Some states require technicians to take tests to demonstrate their proficiency and knowledge of the trade before being able to practice as a journeyman. Additionally, the North American Technical Excellence (NATE) is a primary organization certifies technicians. HVAC Excellence is another certification agency that is accredited as reputable among those in the industry.

After completing an approved course of study or an apprenticeship, a technician may take the exam to become certified. HVAC Excellence certification is another body that certifies HVAC technicians as proficient and highly qualified.

In addition to the NATE and HVAC Excellence certifications, there is a federal certification that HVAC technicians must obtain. HVAC technicians must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency to purchase refrigerants and dispose of them. Having the knowledge required for passing the exam for this federal certification is critical to being able to do the job properly.
 

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3 Must-have HVAC Certifications for Top Techs

NATE Certification
Nate ExamThe North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is the gold standard for technicians. This is a nationally recognized and respected certification that, while not legally required, is highly recommended for any technician working in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry. To obtain this certification, a technician must pass a knowledge-based exam developed and administered by industry experts that illustrates they are better prepared for the workforce and more adept at handling difficult scenarios. Technicians with NATE certification earn more money, typically stay in the industry longer, and have a greater rapport with clients.

HVAC Excellence Certification

The HVAC Excellence certifications are other prominent industry certifications that are lean more on promoting experience than book smarts. The two more prestigious of these certifications are known as the ‘Professional Level’ and the ‘Master Specialist Level’.
HVAC excellence
To earn the Professional Level in HVAC Excellence Certification, a technician must prove that they have a minimum of two years of field experience as well as score well in a comprehensive exam highlighting specialty HVAC/R topics such as residential heat pump and ventilation services. To go one step further and earn the Master Specialist Level in HVAC Excellence Certification, a technician must prove a minimum of three years of field experience in addition to having already obtained the Professional Level Certification.

EPA 608 Certification


EPA 608As an HVAC/R technician, you’ll be working with equipment that uses refrigerant which is a hazardous compound that requires sensitive handling. Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires any technician or contractor that’ll be accessing systems or containers that store refrigerant to obtain special EPA 608 certifications. There are four different types or levels of the EPA 608, each of which pertain to different types of equipment and refrigerant exposure. A technician may need to only obtain one, depending on their duties, while others may seek to pass the required exams and obtain the highest level certification for greater job growth. The following is a quick break down of these four types of EPA 608 Certifications:
Type I Certification. Specific for the installation and repair of small appliances such as window air conditioners, domestic refrigerators, and vending machines.
Type II Certification. Specific for the installation, repair, and disposal of equipment and appliances containing high pressure refrigerant such as heat pumps, residential air conditioners, process refrigeration, and commercial refrigeration.
Type III Certification. Specific for the installation, repair, and disposal of equipment and appliances containing low pressure refrigerant common in more complex industrial equipment.
Universal Certification. This fourth type of certification denotes a technician’s ability to install, repair, and depose of all types of equipment no matter the refrigerant type.
 

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3 Must-have HVAC Certifications for Top Techs

NATE Certification

Nate ExamThe North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is the gold standard for technicians. This is a nationally recognized and respected certification that, while not legally required, is highly recommended for any technician working in the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry. To obtain this certification, a technician must pass a knowledge-based exam developed and administered by industry experts that illustrates they are better prepared for the workforce and more adept at handling difficult scenarios. Technicians with NATE certification earn more money, typically stay in the industry longer, and have a greater rapport with clients.

HVAC Excellence Certification

The HVAC Excellence certifications are other prominent industry certifications that are lean more on promoting experience than book smarts. The two more prestigious of these certifications are known as the ‘Professional Level’ and the ‘Master Specialist Level’.
HVAC excellence
To earn the Professional Level in HVAC Excellence Certification, a technician must prove that they have a minimum of two years of field experience as well as score well in a comprehensive exam highlighting specialty HVAC/R topics such as residential heat pump and ventilation services. To go one step further and earn the Master Specialist Level in HVAC Excellence Certification, a technician must prove a minimum of three years of field experience in addition to having already obtained the Professional Level Certification.

EPA 608 Certification

EPA 608As an HVAC/R technician, you’ll be working with equipment that uses refrigerant which is a hazardous compound that requires sensitive handling. Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires any technician or contractor that’ll be accessing systems or containers that store refrigerant to obtain special EPA 608 certifications. There are four different types or levels of the EPA 608, each of which pertain to different types of equipment and refrigerant exposure. A technician may need to only obtain one, depending on their duties, while others may seek to pass the required exams and obtain the highest level certification for greater job growth. The following is a quick break down of these four types of EPA 608 Certifications:
Type I Certification. Specific for the installation and repair of small appliances such as window air conditioners, domestic refrigerators, and vending machines.
Type II Certification. Specific for the installation, repair, and disposal of equipment and appliances containing high pressure refrigerant such as heat pumps, residential air conditioners, process refrigeration, and commercial refrigeration.
Type III Certification. Specific for the installation, repair, and disposal of equipment and appliances containing low pressure refrigerant common in more complex industrial equipment.
Universal Certification. This fourth type of certification denotes a technician’s ability to install, repair, and depose of all types of equipment no matter the refrigerant type.
 

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Most states only require the EPA license. Even then, most of the Craigslist "handymen" don't have that and use a questionable source for their refrigerant supplies.
 
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