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Being an HVAC professional is more than just knowing the basics of air conditioning, and yet, it sometimes seems anyone with working knowledge of a unit can be a “contractor” and advertise on Craigslist. Being a certified HVAC technician is as important to your job as it is to the person hiring you—you’re working on dangerous equipment, and people want to know you are able to do it right.
What Types Of HVAC Certifications Are There?
To prove you are a trained and capable HVAC tech, you must be licensed. Each state has its own set of licensing regulations, so be sure to check with your state’s licensing department to find out what is required.
The North American Technician Excellence certification is highly regarded as a benchmark for recognized and respected HVAC technicians. A knowledge-based exam is used, and in order to become certified, it must be passed. This exam is also used for specialized areas such as air conditioning, air distribution, and gas furnaces. To have a NATE certification means you are highly knowledgeable and qualified to do your job.
Try our free NATE HVAC practice test.
EPA 608 Certification
You must be EPA 608 certified to work with any type of refrigerant containers. So, to be able to purchase the necessary tools of your trade—such as refrigerants—or even to work on systems or containers that store refrigerants, you must be certified. There are three levels to the EPA 608 certification:
- EPA 608 Type I allows an HVAC tech to handle small appliances that contain less than 5 pounds of refrigerants (like a refrigerator, vending machine, or residential air conditioner).
- EPA 608 Type II will allow the HVAC professional to service and dispose of equipment with high-pressure refrigerants (such as a large air conditioner, heat pumps, or a commercial refrigerator).
- EPA 608 Type III allows the handling of low-pressure refrigerants (like a chiller).
EPA Universal Certification
This certification is recommended in order to work on all the types of HVAC equipment. The EPA Universal Certification opens up a wider variety of opportunities, and you are more marketable, whether you want to start your own company or work within a firm.
Another certification that is highly recommended for HVAC technicians to get is the Excellence Certification. This certification is two-tiered: the professional level and the master specialist. To earn the professional level, you must have a minimum of two years in the field and pass an exam specific to specialties such as residential air conditioning. To receive a master specialist certification, you must have three years of being in the field and get a passing score on the exam.
Why Are Certifications Important?
Having various career-oriented certifications shows you can get the job done to the highest degree of quality. Certifications prove to a potential employer that you know your way around every problem an air conditioner or heating system can throw at you.
They also give peace of mind to those who are hiring you to work on their equipment, that it will be done right the first time. Certifications prove your credibility and how hirable you are, and, in the end, that's the name of the game.
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