NATE Certification for HVAC Technicians & What Homeowners Need to Know

Nick P. Cellucci
Written by Nick P. Cellucci
Updated March 18, 2022
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  • A properly serviced HVAC system runs more efficiently.

  • NATE certification requires rigorous exams and real-world experience.

  • NATE-certified companies need at least 25% of certified technicians.

  • Homeowner's benefits are reliability, safety, and energy savings.

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When your heating or air conditioner breaks down or needs routine maintenance, you’ll likely need to hire an HVAC technician. Using a licensed and certified HVAC contractor can help ensure the job is done right, and one sign of a knowledgeable, reliable company is a NATE certification. We’ll break down what the credential means so you can make an informed choice.

What does a NATE Certification Mean?

When researching local HVAC contractors, you may see the term “NATE-certified.” North American Technician Excellence (NATE) is the largest non-profit heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) certification program in the United States. Their goal is to help homeowners feel confident in the technician's skill.

For an individual HVAC technician to obtain a NATE certification, they need two full years of HVAC field experience and pass a series of expert-developed exams that test their real-world HVAC knowledge. A standard NATE certification lasts for two years, after which the technician is required to complete continuing education or re-take a specialty exam to recertify.

HVAC companies can also receive a NATE certification by hiring a certain percentage of NATE-certified technicians to their workforce: 

  • Basic certification: 25% of workforce

  • Standard certification: 50% of workforce

  • Elite certification: 75% of workforce

For this reason and because of their reliable skills, NATE-certified technicians are often sought after during the hiring process.

Benefits of Working With NATE-Certified Technicians

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Because of the demands of earning and maintaining their certification, NATE-certified technicians have knowledge and skills that help set them apart from their competition. Here are some of the benefits of choosing a pro with a NATE certification.

Benefits of NATE-Certified HVAC Technicians

Current Industry Knowledge

Every two years, technicians must complete a set number of continuing education hours or re-take exams to recertify, so you can always trust that their knowledge of the industry and the systems in your home is up-to-date.

Specialized Skills

Testing for the NATE certification includes a wide range of knowledge, including not just HVAC systems but basic construction, chimneys, electricity, indoor air quality, roofing, and more. Technicians are also required to put their specialized skills to use in the field. That real-world experience means they're more likely to know exactly how to service your system when issues arise.

Long-Term Savings

When your HVAC system is installed and serviced properly, it will run more efficiently, break down less often, and last longer. This will end up saving you money on utility bills and saving you time when it comes to annual maintenance. By working with a NATE-certified technician, you can trust that the job is correct from the start.

Safety Training

One of the most important parts of NATE certification is safety training that includes staying up to date on government regulations, procedures for dealing with all worksite materials, and proper clean-up for every type of job. This training ensures safety for all parties involved and minimizes risk to your home.

How to Find a NATE-Certified HVAC Technician

As you shop around for professional services, ask trusted neighbors, friends, and family members for companies they’d recommend. You can also search online for top HVAC pros in your area.

Once you’ve found a few companies you like, check their websites or call around to verify that they have active credentials. Your state’s licensing board may also keep a list of certified technicians on their website.

In addition to the NATE certification, there are several other certifications an HVAC pro may have. Any or all of the following are signs of a well-qualified technician:

  • EPA Section 608 Technician Certification to handle refrigerants

  • HVAC Excellence Certification

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) HVAC Quality Installation Standard Certification

The contractor you hire should also carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.

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