As you’re planning your path to HVACR certification, you’ll need to decide between two certifying bodies: North American Technician Excellence (NATE) or HVAC Excellence. These two organizations provide certifications that demonstrate expertise in the HVACR field. Beyond this, having an HVACR certification can lead to a higher salary, more credibility, a professional network, and the opportunity for career advancement. So, do you become a NATE-certified technician or HVAC-Excellence certified technician?
Both are great options, but let’s take a look at the NATE certification path. We’re breaking it down, so you can make the right decision with your HVACR certification training. Although, if you’re curious about HVAC Excellence be sure to check out our breakdown of HVAC Excellence certification.
NATE is well known in the industry.
North American Technician Excellence, or simply NATE, was founded in 1997. Since then, it has grown to become the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for HVACR technicians.
Most HVACR companies will claim their technicians are highly skilled, but those with NATE-certified technicians can have their claim backed by an industry-recognized standard of excellence. Because of this, hiring managers and industry veterans often look for NATE-certified technicians when they hire.
Ultimately, NATE certification means clients are receiving high quality work from expert technicians.
NATE tests prove your professional skills and knowledge.
The organization prides itself on testing the real world working knowledge of HVACR systems. Furthermore, it certifies in common HVACR areas important to contractors, manufacturers, educators, and utilities.
If you have one to two years years of experience, the path to certification starts with the Core exam. First, you must pass the Core exam which foundational aspects like tools and safety, common electrical questions, and principles of heat transfer. Preparing for the Core exam is a great way to fill in any knowledge gaps you might have going on to the next step.
You can choose various specializations in NATE certification.
While you may have many years of experience in the field, you’re likely to specialize in a certain area. This is where the Specialty exam comes in. Candidates who sit for and pass the NATE Core exam must also pass the Specialty exam to earn NATE certification. The Specialty exam follows either an installation track or a service track, with a focus on the area of your choosing.
Common installation specialty areas include:
- Air conditioning
- Air distribution
Common service specialty areas include:
- Heat pumps
- Gas heating
- Oil heating
- Hydronics gas
- Hydronics oil
NATE certification allows you to join a network of HVACR technicians.
Not only does NATE offer expert-developed certification exams, it offers a massive professional network. There are nearly 35,000 NATE-certified HVACR technicians, and that number is only growing! In addition, NATE partners with some of the top HVACR organizations in the country.
This network includes the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), National Association of Oil and Energy Service Professionals (OESP), and dozens of others.
Regardless of industry, having a strong professional network is beneficial to overall career growth.
Continuing education allows you to continue growing as a NATE-certified technician.
Technicians who have earned a NATE certification must re-certify every two years. This is because recertification helps you stay up-to-date on emerging technology and industry best practices. You can complete the process by earning a minimum of 16 hours of continuing education every two years. Similarly, you can simply retake the certification exam.
In fact, the current process is a drastic change from a few years ago. Previously, recertification was required every five years. Moreover, the technician needed to obtain 60 hours of continuing education in order to qualify.
You will never regret earning your certification, and a NATE is a great choice.
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