The North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Certification is a national certification available for technicians working in the HVAC industry. While this certification is not legally required to become an HVAC technician, it is very widely recognized in the field. Employers and contractors are generally much more inclined to hire those who have obtained this credential that serves as an indicator of competence, and consumers prefer to be serviced by a certified technician as well. Therefore, you should definitely consider acquiring this certification in order to advance your HVAC career and open yourself up to more job opportunities.
There is actually no single type of NATE certification. Instead, there are a number different specialty areas for which you can acquire certification and demonstrate your knowledge. These specialty areas are divided into three types: Installation, Service, and Senior. If you opt for either the Installation or Service path, you can choose from among these specialty areas:
- Air Conditioning
- Air Distribution
- Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
- Gas Heating (Air)
- Oil Heating (Air)
- Hydronics Gas
- Hydronics Oil
- Light Commercial Refrigeration
- Commercial Refrigeration
If you instead wish to go down the Senior path, you will be aiming for the HVAC Efficiency Analyst certification. In order to acquire this level of certification, you must first possess NATE certification in at least two of the following specialty areas:
- Air Conditioning (AC) plus one of the following: AD, GS, OL, HG, or HO
- Air Distribution (AD) plus one of the following: AC, GS, HP, OL, HG, or HO
- Gas Heating (GS) plus one of the following: AC, AD, or HP
- Heat Pump (HP) plus one of the following: AD, GS, OL, HG, or HO
- Oil Heating (OL) plus one of the following: AC, AD, HP, HG, or HO
- Hydronics Gas (HG) plus one of the following: AC, AD, or HP
- Hydronics Oil (HO) plus one of the following: AC, AD, or HP
How can I get certified?
To obtain NATE certification, you must pass both a Core exam and the Specialty exam for one of the specialties listed above.
The Core exam lasts 1.5 hours and contains 50 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. The exam covers the following areas:
- Basic Construction
- Using Basic Science
- Achieving Desired Conditions
- Taking Temperature and Humidity Measurements
- Basic Electrical
Each Specialty exam lasts 2.5 hours and contains 100 multiple-choice questions. To pass, you must again answer at least 70% of the questions correctly. Each Specialty exam will cover different topics depending on the particular specialty area.
These exams are offered throughout the year by approved NATE testing organizations.
To learn more about NATE certification, you can visit the NATE website here. You can find more specific information on both the Core exam and the Specialty exams there. In addition, you can locate a testing organization near your area as well.