HVAC professionals are almost always required to obtain some form of HVAC certification in order to work within the field. HVAC certification is either legally mandated, such as by the EPA or is done on a voluntary basis and notifies potential employers that an HVAC professional possesses strong knowledge of their specialty field and that they have a high level of expertise in their work. HVAC professionals with certification tend to earn higher salaries and advance much quicker in the professional world compared to those who have minimal certification.
EPA Section 608 Technician Certification
All HVAC professionals must obtain EPA Section 608 Technician Certification in order to handle refrigerants. There are four types of this certification which include Type I, Type II, Type III and Universal. Type I covers small appliances (5lbs or less of refrigerant), Type II covers medium to very high-pressure appliances, Type III covers low-pressure appliances, and Universal covers appliances of all sizes and pressure types.
North American Technician Excellence (NATE)
Another common certification held by HVAC professionals is the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification. NATE offers nationally renowned certificates ranging from those new to the field to those with several years of work experience in the HVAC field. NATE exams available for entry-level or early-career HVAC technicians include the Ready-to-Work Certification Exam and HVAC Support Technician Certification Exam. Those who have over a year of work experience in the field or wish to achieve national recognition for expertise within a certain specialty may take a NATE experienced or senior-level certification exam. Specialties under which a professional may obtain certification include air conditioning, heat pumps, gas heating, oil heating, commercial refrigeration, and more.
HVAC Excellence Certification Through ESCO
Similar to NATE certification, there is also HVAC Excellence certification offered through ESCO Institute. HVAC Excellence certifications also cover those who are just entering the HVAC workplace or those who have years of experience and want to specialize further. Common certificates that are issued under the title of HVAC Excellence include the Employment Ready certificate, the Professional Technician (PT) certificate, and the Master Specialist Hands-On (MS) certificate.
Addition HVAC Certifications
Additional certifications that may be obtained include Building Performance Institute (BPI), National Comfort Institute (NCI), Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and Northwest Energy Efficiency Council (NEEC).
Altogether, certification of some kind is generally required for all HVAC professionals to have regardless of their specialty. It is always important for those entering the HVAC field to check with national, state, and local requirements for certification as various states and cities have their own standards for HVAC workers. In most cases, professionals are only legally mandated to have EPA certification but it is highly recommended to obtain further certification, especially for specialty fields, in order to increase potential salary and gain credibility.