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Everything You Need To Know About NATE Certification Heating and cooling systems are common in homes and businesses to provide a comfortable indoor atmosphere regardless of the season or weather. These systems are installed and maintained by the HVAC industry, and you can become a NATE certified technician in this field. NATE certification can lead […]

January 1, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About NATE Certification

Heating and cooling systems are common in homes and businesses to provide a comfortable indoor atmosphere regardless of the season or weather.

These systems are installed and maintained by the HVAC industry, and you can become a NATE certified technician in this field.

NATE certification can lead to additional career options, higher income, and improved customer and client health, safety, and comfort. 

In this post, we’ll look at all you need to know about NATE certification, including what NATE certification is, how to earn it, and the numerous benefits of NATE certification to see whether it’s something you want to pursue.

What is the NATE certification?

The US Environmental Protection Agency and ASHRAE® have formed a coalition called NATE, which stands for North American Technician Excellence (the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers).

This is the biggest nonprofit independent certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians in the United States. It is a nationally renowned organization that offers industry-developed and approved optional certifications.

The NATE certification exams are developed in collaboration with a nationwide group of HVAC professionals. The committee creates examinations for technicians by identifying Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs) based on their own real-world employment experience. A technician becomes NATE-certified after passing all of the required tests.

NATE certification establishes a degree of professionalism and high-quality standards, allowing consumers to make more educated decisions when selecting professionals and firms to install, maintain, or repair heating and cooling equipment in their homes or offices. 

Through several NATE certification tests, you can receive installation and service certification, specializing in oil, gas, or other heating and cooling fields, and advance to senior-level technician status.

Note that technicians who earn their NATE Heat Pump certification also earn their Air Conditioning certification. An Installation certification is given to technicians who acquire a Service Specialty certification.

Who uses NATE certification?

Individual technicians who take and pass a knowledge exam testing their understanding of HVAC systems earn the NATE certification. You must pass the basic service exam as well as one specialist exam, such as gas furnaces, air conditioning, or air-to-air heat pumps, to get your NATE certification.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, as well as other contractors, educators, distributors, technicians, manufacturers, and utilities recognize and partner with NATE.

Why is NATE Certification important?

When looking for an HVAC professional, make sure they are NATE certified. Because NATE-certified technicians ensure a high-quality experience, you can rest assured that you’re getting good value for your money.

Because of the extensive training and testing required to become NATE certified, your Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning specialist will be able to handle almost any HVAC problem promptly and efficiently.

Choosing a technician who isn’t NATE qualified can have serious consequences. You have no way of knowing how much experience a technician has without certification. They could have decided to start their company yesterday and have no prior experience with HVAC systems. You’d have no way of knowing, which means you could end up with mediocre outcomes that cost a lot of money to fix.

What is tested on NATE?

Components

Although HVAC technicians frequently work on both residential and commercial properties, they must have a thorough understanding of all the components of a domestic heating and cooling system in order to pass the Ready to Work Certificate Exam.

Knowing the blower motor, heat exchanger, combustion chamber, evaporator, condenser, and thermostat is a good place to start.

Tools

Many situations require troubleshooting to identify the issue, which is why having the correct tools is critical for any effective HVAC expert.

For instance, a technician should have quick access to reciprocating saw blades, a refrigerant scale, a vacuum pump, a cordless drill, pipe wrenches and pliers, tin snips, screwdrivers, and shears.

Measurements and Units

As an HVAC technician, you must be familiar with measurement calculations and units because the results are frequently used to determine how to proceed in the field.

To size an air conditioner for a home, for example, you must consider square footage, BTUs, and the number of people who will be living there. Precise measurements serve to maximize the unit’s efficiency in the end.

Basic Heat Transfer

When troubleshooting systems that utilize vapor or steam, an HVAC technician should understand the principles of heat transfer since it may provide insight into the issue. Furthermore, understanding how heat is transferred can help to determine why residential dwellings have issues such as being too hot upstairs and too chilly downstairs.

General Safety

As a technician, you must be knowledgeable of all applicable safety standards and regulations, as well as potential job dangers and procedures. All of this is done to guarantee that you don’t put yourself at risk due to chemical exposure, insufficient equipment, or ladder safety.

Electrical Safety

When working on systems, HVAC technicians are constantly faced with electrical problems, which is why learning and appreciating electrical safety is critical. For example, you should understand when to de-energize equipment, what PPE is and how to apply it, and how to test circuits before working on them.

Is NATE certification worth it?

Is NATE worth your time and effort to earn? Earning your NATE certification has numerous advantages, including the following:

Create a career path

Whether you have little prior experience or a lot of it, earning an industry certification can help you advance your career. If you’re thinking about starting your own HVAC company or working as an independent contractor, the NATE certification can help.

Increase your earnings potential

Earning the NATE certification generally leads to higher-level work, with better starting compensation and the possibility of receiving raises and bonuses based on your level of knowledge and experience. Because companies and customers value official ratings and credentials, it can set you apart from other job seekers.

Improve your knowledge, efficiency, and skills

NATE certification gives education about the industry with a uniform standard of understanding as technology improves and changes in the heating and cooling area. In the area of residential and commercial HVAC and refrigeration, NATE-certified technicians are frequently regarded as experts.

Boost your professional credibility

Employers and customers alike value specialist certifications and credentials, which can lead to additional work prospects, professional advancement, greater incomes, and more client demand. The NATE certification typically leads to professional longevity and success, as well as the ability to stay on top of regulatory and technical developments throughout the business.

Acquire marketing resources

When you earn your NATE certification, you can use features like the NATE logo and decals, brand guidelines, marketing materials, gear, and accessories to promote your achievement.

Expand your business

Companies can market themselves as NATE certified installers if at least 25% of their technicians are NATE qualified. Customers and manufacturers frequently associate NATE accreditation with quality installation, fewer warranty repairs or returns, and, as a result, improved service, reduced energy costs, or increased profitability.

How to get NATE certified?

If you’re interested in a career in HVAC, here are 6 steps to getting your NATE certification:

Step 1: Gain HVAC experience

Before registering for the support team test, NATE advises six months to one year of relevant work experience, and two years of experience for the professional level tests. Internships, apprenticeships, and getting employed by HVAC installation and maintenance companies to train and gain on-the-job experience are all options for gaining experience.

Step 2: Consider enrolling in classes

To assist you in preparing for the NATE certification exam, many online programs provide self-paced study and preparation courses with video presentations, study guides, and practice tests. 

You can pass the NATE certification exam with formal training from these programs, a company, or a technical school. Financial aid and scholarships are available at some vocational institutions, as well as discounted tuition for military veterans.

Many courses cover subjects such as:

  • HVAC fundamentals
  • Installation and design
  • Startup and checks
  • Airflow measurement
  • Maintenance
  • Combustion process
  • Regulation and codes
  • Furnace configuration
  • Electrical troubleshooting

Step 3: Prepare and practice

Using practice questions, previous examinations, and internet content to prepare for your NATE certification exam is valuable and necessary. Consider seeking the assistance of family members or coworkers. 

Official NATE materials are now available online to help you prepare for the test. Focus on the knowledge areas of technical expertise (KATE), which are divided into many categories for each section of the exam.

To assist you to prepare, look into discovering the ideal study strategy for you. If you’re a visual learner, for example, go with more video-based instruction. If you prefer to learn by reading, evaluate the study guides and NATE material.

Step 4: Register for the test and take it

To take the NATE certification exam, you must first register. It’s available in nearly every state through over 5,000 testing organizations or, if preferred, through a live online proctored exam session. On the NATE website, you can sign up for location testing sites.

To pass, you must achieve a 70 percent or above on both parts. The NATE core certification test has 50 questions and the specialist test has 100, and both take around four hours to complete. You can repeat any tests that you did not pass the first time.

Step 5: NATE certification renewal

You must complete 16 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain your NATE certification. This ensures that you stay current on the latest HVAC technology, equipment, features, and repairs in order to provide dependable, high-quality service. You will never have to retake the core tests as long as your credentials are current.

NATE-certified courses or other training elements programs, such as electrical license classes, state licensing courses, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training, can all be part of the annual training.

Step 6: Achieve senior-level status

You can test for senior-level technician NATE certification after obtaining at least five years of HVAC experience. You must have passed two of the specialty tests as well as the HVAC efficiency analyst test, which comprises the following categories:

  • System performance
  • Air distribution
  • Load calculation
  • Equipment selection
  • Hydronic distribution
  • Indoor air and environmental quality
  • Planned maintenance

NATE certification study guide

Obtaining NATE certification is a difficult task, but the benefits are plentiful. Here is a brief study guide to assist you in doing your best on tests so that you can do your best on the job.

1. Examine the KATEs

Review NATE’s Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise for information on training and assessment (KATEs). Each KATE includes a comprehensive list of references. To find the correct information to study, use the KATEs to cross-reference the information with the index of any HVACR reference book. If a question isn’t cited in a KATE, it won’t appear on a NATE-developed test.

2. Take a NATE-approved course

Attending a NATE-approved training class given by a NATE-recognized Training Provider may provide additional assistance. While these programs are not hosted by NATE, they satisfy the same high criteria as our KATE products and could be useful educational additions. You can also inquire whether any preparation training is available from the NATE testing company you choose.

3. Download training materials on the internet

Training materials for our tests are available for purchase through the NATE online store. While these materials do not contain the questions that appear on the NATE tests, technicians preparing for testing can benefit from these materials including the NATE practice test.

FAQs

How does NATE certification cost?

Authorized testing organizations, who determine their own costs, are used for NATE certification. The most basic exam for support team technicians, on the other hand, costs $50 and comes with a downloaded study guide following registration.

Retakes cost $35 each if you don’t get a passing score the first time. The typical cost of a study guide acquired through the NATE organization is around $20. Recertification fees vary depending on how long you’ve had your NATE certification.

How many questions are on the NATE core test?

The NATE certification exam consists of 50 core questions and 100 specialty questions. The full certification testing can take up to four hours on average, and you can acquire more specialist certifications during your career, up to and including the senior level exam. 

What is the duration of a NATE certification?

Except for the ground source pump heat installer certification, which lasts three years, NATE qualifications are valid for two years. Technicians must complete 16 hours of continuing education on the NATE website within two years, pay a renewal fee, and retake the specialist exam before their certification expires.

Who is eligible to take the NATE exam?

NATE tests test a candidate’s understanding of their area of practice. Although there are no official educational prerequisites for certification, NATE strongly advises candidates to have had some formal training from an employer, a technical school, or another educational institution.

Candidates should have the following job experience as well as some expertise with specialized equipment:

  • For installation technician tests, one year of experience is preferred.
  • For service technician examinations, two years of experience is preferred.
  • For a senior-level technician, five years of experience is preferred.

What is the NATE scoring system?

Exams for NATE certification are pass/fail. A score of 70% or more is necessary to complete the NATE professional level certification tests, including the Core and installation/service specialist exams. To pass the core exam, you must properly answer 35 out of 50 questions. To pass the installation and service specialist tests, you must correctly answer 70 out of 100 questions.

In which languages do you provide NATE exams?

The language used in the NATE test is Spanish. The following tests are available in Spanish:

  • Ready-to-Work Exam
  • HVAC Support Technician Exam
  • CORE Exam
  • Air Conditioning Service Exam
  • Air to Air Heat Pump Service Exam
  • Gas Heating Service Exam

Please fill out the Request for Non-standard Accommodation form if you want to take the exam with a translator. Translators are not permitted to be utilized during remote Live Online Proctor (LOP) sessions.

Examity proctors will only speak English if you register for a Spanish exam online through LOP. The proctors’ duties will include greeting and preparing you for the exam, as well as monitoring the testing room throughout the exam.

Candidates are not permitted to use online translation services, translation dictionaries, or any other outside materials during the exams if they register for an English exam via LOP. To prevent cheating, the proctor keeps an eye on whether prohibited items like smartphones and apps are being used.

What does a digital badge mean?

You’ll receive a digital badge after being NATE certified, which you can display on social media, in your email signature, or on your website. Your digital badge proves that you passed the NATE certification tests.

How to get my NATE certificates and Wallet Cards?

Every time a technician gets or recertifies a certification, new electronic documentation, and digital badges are created.

When you receive your BadgeCert email with your digital badge for your NATE certification, go to the certification page and click “certificate” or “wallet” to download the PDF.

How can I check the validity of a NATE ID number?

NATE’s website allows anyone to check a NATE ID number. Find “Verify a Technician’s NATE ID” in both the homeowners’ and contractors’ sections. Entering the NATE ID will display the individual’s certifications and when they expire.

Conclusion

If you’re a new tech joining the industry, attending a test preparation course before the exam may be beneficial. While NATE does not provide preparation courses directly, you can take one from one of their approved training partners.

As a new technician entering the HVAC industry, obtaining NATE certification is something you’ll want to work for. NATE certification demonstrates professionalism and trust in people who hold it, increasing your chances of getting better job opportunities and having a longer career.