Benefits, Types, and Steps to Having an HVAC Certification

In the U.S., about 400,000 people are employed in the HVAC industry.

This has made it one of the high-demand careers in the country.

To enter this field, you must have the skills and knowledge to…

  • Meet client and industry requirements
  • Provide excellent technical service

That’s why you need an HVAC certification (and/or a state license) to prove your competencies and expertise.

Plus, with this certification, you can potentially receive higher salaries and better working conditions.

On this page, you’ll learn…

  • What an HVAC certification is
  • Advantages of having an HVAC certification
  • Types of HVAC certification exams available
  • Steps to obtaining the HVAC certification
  • How to prepare for the HVAC certification exam
  • Costs involved in earning an HVAC certification
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About the HVAC Certification

HVAC technicians install, maintain, and repair the heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems in buildings.

The work that they do ensures the control of the air quality and temperature in residential and commercial spaces.

Nowadays, clients are looking toward sophisticated climate-control systems, which increase the complexities of HVAC systems.

That’s the reason why you, an aspiring HVAC technician, should earn the HVAC certification.

Having it will make it easier for you to meet clients’ needs with their HVAC systems.

To obtain such certification, you’ll have to pass the HVAC certification exam, which is discussed in detail below.

State Requirement for an HVAC License

In addition to the national-level HVAC certification, states may or may not require additional HVAC licenses.

These states have different regulations for their HVAC technicians in accordance with their geographic and weather conditions.

Because of each state’s respective rules and procedures, HVAC technicians will have different licensing requirements.

For more detailed information, it’s best to inquire at your state government about it.

Advantages of Being a Certified HVAC Technician

Having a certification can bring a lot of advantages to your career as an HVAC technician.

Here are some advantages that an HVAC certification brings:

  • You can become more competitive in the HVAC market among the other technicians.
  • You can expect to earn a higher salary as employers will give you preference over others.
  • Certification demonstrates your expertise, so you can count on working on bigger projects in key positions.
  • With the certification, you can attract more potential clients and increase sales.
  • It verifies your knowledge of the trade, so your clients or employer are assured of your qualifications.

So if you want to get ahead of the competition and maximize benefits, then get certified.

Types of HVAC Certifications

There are different organizations that certify HVAC technicians, which are as follows:

  • National level
    • EPA Section 608 Technician Certification
  • Other certification type:
    • North American Technical Excellence (NATE) Certification

EPA Section 608 Technician Certification

Also known as EPA HVAC Certification, this is a mandatory certification for all technicians working with refrigerants.

The certification exam has 4 types and what type you’ll sit for depends on the type of equipment you want to work with.

  • Type I for servicing small appliances
  • Type II for servicing high-pressure appliances
  • Type III for servicing low-pressure appliances
  • Universal for servicing all equipment types

As an HVAC technician, you may have to take the exam for one or more of these types.

If you pass, you’ll have a lifetime EPA HVAC Certification in your hands.

NATE Certification

NATE is a nationally recognized non-profit certification organization for HVAC technicians.

Unlike EPA HVAC Certification, this certification isn’t mandatory but certainly provides certain benefits to you.

The NATE Certification is designed to…

  • Ensure that you have the adequate competencies to perform and complete HVAC tasks
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition as to why you’re among the best in the industry

It has three certification types, and you may choose to take one or more depending on the path you’ll take:

  • NATE Certification for HVAC technicians looking to validate their professional competency
  • Entry Level Certificate for HVAC technicians (including recent graduates and apprentices) with less than 2 years of experience
  • Professional Certification Exams for HVAC technicians with specialized knowledge and skills

All certification types will test you in the “knowledge areas of technician expertise” or KATEs.

Steps to Becoming a Certified HVAC Technician

Like many professions, you have to follow a series of steps before you can attain certification.

So here are the steps you’ll need to take to become a certified HVAC technician:

  1. Obtain a high school diploma or GED equivalent
  2. Get the appropriate HVAC training
    1. Option 1 – Complete an accredited HVAC technician training program
    2. Option 2 – Complete an apprenticeship program
  3. Gain enough practical field experience under the guidance of senior HVAC technicians
  4. Sit for the national and/or state certification exams
  5. (Optional) Get additional certification for any specializations

Note that regardless of how you’ll enter the industry, your qualifications and experience can help you attain certification easily.

Preparing for the HVAC Certification Exam

At this point, we’ll now walk you through how you can prepare for the HVAC certification exam.

There are three ways that you can take or combine:

  • Enroll in an HVAC technician training course
  • Get relevant training and field experience
  • Take an online HVAC certification exam preparatory course

The first two are already part of your HVAC certification journey, so let’s focus on the third option.

An online HVAC certification exam preparatory course is basically a refresher and a study guide to help you pass the exam.

It’s mostly self-paced so that you can have the flexibility to study without it interrupting your job.

One of the online courses you can check out is SkillCat.

The advantages of taking the online preparatory course are as follows:

  • Flexibility in learning with fewer life interruptions
  • Learning materials are accessible online
  • Practice tests can enhance your knowledge and understanding
  • Structured modules are based on EPA or NATE exam guidelines for maximum preparation

HVAC Certification Costs

HVAC certification and/or license are regulated at the state level.

It may cost between $50 and $300, with the license terms valid for around 3 years.

Standard fees can include the following:

  • Registration fees
  • Exam fees
  • Renewal fees
  • Reinstatement fees

Frequently Asked Questions

How different are HVAC and Refrigeration certifications?

The certification requirements for HVAC and Refrigeration are different in every state.

Some states put them together, but in others, different certification is required for the two areas.

The certification and the process of obtaining it can also depend on the size of the systems you work on.

However, don’t confuse refrigeration certification and refrigerant certification.

Refrigerant certification is regulated by federal law and covers the types of refrigerant in the AC or refrigeration systems.

Do I need a CFC certification?

CFC stands for chlorofluorocarbons which are chemicals found in an aerosol used in HVAC systems.

These are harmful to the environment.

So anyone who works with these chemicals or sells/buys them has to be certified.

You can find out more by checking the information on EPA Section 608 Technician Certification.

What is an HVAC technician master license?

The trade licensing is divided by levels in some states, with the master being the highest.

Each state sets different requirements for obtaining this license.

In some areas, the apprentices are supervised only by masters.

What is an HVAC technician journeyman license?

A journeyman is one of the levels of licensing who can work without supervision.

However, the regulations can vary from state to state as well.

A journeyman-level is higher than the apprentice and can supervise and guide the apprentice.

What is an HVAC engineer and is licensing required?

An HVAC engineer designs equipment and systems.

The engineer’s job can involve working in a lab or with architects and other engineers.

Usually, an HVAC engineer is expected to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering at a minimum.

The certification can be required in some states.

What is the cost of online certification?

It depends on the organization that will administer the exam.

For example, EPA Type I certification can cost from $20 to $40.

Do note that not all HVAC certification organizations will offer an online certification exam.

Which state doesn’t require an HVAC license?

The laws are changing all the time, so some states may cancel licensing while others can introduce it.

As of this writing, these are the states that don’t require HVAC licensing:

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming

Despite them not requiring state licensing, some of their counties and municipalities may require local licensing.

What if I choose to not become certified?

Not having a certification can lead to penalties and legal disputes for a job not done well.

Also, employers and clients won’t hire you because they don’t have the assurance of your qualifications.

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