HVAC certification is a voluntary, though highly recommended, way for recent HVAC school graduates and working professionals to demonstrate expertise in the areas of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning repair and maintenance.
There are several areas in which HVAC technicians can be certified, and employers tend to prefer hiring technicians who have at least one form of certification.
Types of HVAC Technician Certification
Two of the most well-known certification organizations for the HVAC industry are:
NATE offers national certification in several specialty areas such as:
- Air Conditioning
- Gas or Oil Heating
- Commercial Refrigeration
- HVAC Efficiency
The EPA offers some of the most popular HVAC technician certifications, and currently specializes in three different types of HVAC licenses:
- Type I—servicing small appliances
- Type II—high-pressure refrigerants
- Type III—low-pressure refrigerants
Universal certification is granted to HVAC mechanics who have earned all CFC certifications.
There are also a number of smaller HVAC certification programs available for technicians who have at least one year of installation experience and two years of maintenance and repair experience. For example, the HVAC Excellence organization offers certification exams in the areas of heating repair and maintenance.
The prerequisites for certification vary, but typically include some amount of formal education from accredited HVAC schools.
Benefits of HVAC Certification
The most lucrative positions in the HVAC industry usually go to technicians who have demonstrated mastery in the trade. Obtaining certification is one way to be seen as a more valuable employee, as it demonstrates field expertise.
Beyond the benefits of obtaining certification in an area of HVAC, in some states being certified is a requirement. The specifics vary from state to state, but many require technicians to have one or more HVAC certifications depending on the types of work they will be doing. One reason for this is that advances in technology have changed the nature of employment so quickly that employers prefer to hire formally trained candidates rather than those who are self-taught or have informal training.
In addition to showing a dedication to the field, HVAC certification ensures that a technician has met a high standard of education and knowledge. Certified HVAC mechanics have greater job mobility, as well as an up-to-date skill set that qualifies them for more complex careers and higher salary.