What is NATE Certification?

Hello everyone! I’m doing something a little different today. The below is a guest post written by our friend Michael Berard at HVACTrainingCenter.com. I’ll be doing my own guest post over at his site as well. I hope you find the article helpful and please check out his site while you are on the topic. Thanks for reading!

What is a NATE Certificate?

NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence and is an independent non-profit organization that awards certifications for installers and technicians in the HVACR field. NATE offers multiple different tests in varying levels of difficulty based on experience and application. These tests require a knowledge in installation, service, maintenance, and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems to pass. Certification can be awarded for installation and/or service as well as specialty certificates in multiple areas including:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Air Distribution
  • Commercial Refrigeration (service only)
  • Gas Heating
  • Ground Source Heat Pump Loop Installer
  • Heat Pumps
  • Hydronics Gas (service only)
  • Hydronics Oil (service only)
  • Light Commercial Refrigeration (service only)
  • Oil Heating
  • Senior HVAC Efficiency Analyst

Why Should I Get a NATE Certification?

Although not a required certification, NATE certifications can be beneficial to your career opportunities and value as an employee. The specialty certifications are aimed at the higher level technicians in the industry and provide physical evidence of your knowledge that you can show to potential employers or clients. Some reasons to considering getting a Refrigeration NATE Certification are:

  1. Customers prefer certified technicians working on home and commercial refrigeration systems.
  2. Some employers require refrigeration technicians to have their NATE certification.
  3. Demonstrate not only exceptional knowledge in the industry, but also a willingness to better yourself and your trade.
  4. Differentiate yourself from other potential hires to employers in the industry.

The difficulty of NATE certification tests as well as how specific they are for each application in the HVACR industry separate them from other non-required exams. They hold a lot more weight in the industry and actually do help to show that you can perform above others in the industry.

Entry Level and Early Career NATE Certificates

NATE offers a certificate for people just entering the HVACR industry, as well as those who have been in it for a short period of time, looking to prove their knowledge and differentiate themselves from other entry level technicians. The first test focuses on fundamental job knowledge and skills needed to enter the HVACR industry. It is a $50 online test that includes a study guide. However, passing this exam only provides an Entry Level NATE Certificate, not to be confused with a NATE Certification. This test is recommended more for those who would like to prove their education to themselves or brush on general knowledge before starting a job.
The second test is the HVACR Support Certificate. This test is for technicians who have been in the industry for 6-12 months and covers topics required for the professional level certification, but on a broader spectrum. The HVACR Support Certificate test can be taken at approved testing organizations and by approved proctors, but again only awards a certificate not a certification.

Refrigeration Specific NATE Certifications

Before taking the specialty tests offered by NATE, a core exam must first be taken. The core exam covers general construction knowledge, safety, and HVACR industry specific topics including:

  • Achieving Desired Conditions
  • Basic Science
  • Basic Construction
  • Basic Electrical
  • Taking Temperature and Humidity Measurements
  • Tools

The core test is a 1.5 hour exam with 50 questions. Once passed, the test is not required to be renewed and allows the technician to pursue more specialty certifications such as “Light Commercial Refrigeration” or “Commercial Refrigeration”.
The two refrigeration certifications have recommendations of at least 2 years working in the field as a refrigeration technician as well as technical training for theoretic knowledge of refrigeration. The test is closed book with 100 questions and a 2.5 hour time limit and is designed for a top level technician.
The NATE exams for commercial refrigeration are definitely worth considering when looking to further yourself and your career. Although not necessary to have a successful career in refrigeration, they can be a great stepping stone to getting there.