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Nate-certified contractorOne of the most common pieces of advice you might hear about choosing an HVAC technician is to only hire those that are certified. But what does it mean for an HVAC technician to be certified? Are some certifications better than others? Are there different certifications for service and installation? The truth is, it’s not just that you need to look for licenses or certification, you need to make sure that your technician is NATE certified.

North American Technician Excellence

NATE is a non-profit organization that provides the gold-standard certification for the HVAC industry, covering a variety of specialties on three different levels. While any organization can offer licensing or accreditation, because NATE is governed and developed by the HVAC industry itself, it is the only one adopted throughout the entire industry.

An Elite Group of Technicians

Perhaps what sets NATE even further apart is its low pass rates. Many HVAC certification programs pass a suspiciously high number of technicians. NATE, on the other hand, has the lowest pass rates in the entire industry, showing how rigorous these voluntary exams are. In order to pass, a technician must show in-depth understanding of HVAC systems in general, and in an area of expertise.

Currently, there are over 30,000 technicians, all of whom have shown competence in one or more HVAC specialty areas. There are many areas in which a technician can be certified, including:

  • Oil furnaces
  • Gas furnaces
  • Air distribution
  • Air conditioning
  • Heat pumps
  • Hydronics oil
  • Hydronics gas
  • Senior HVAC efficiency analyst
  • Light commercial refrigeration
  • Commercial refrigeration

Earning NATE Certification

To become NATE-certified, a technician chooses to take an exam in one of these specialties. While there is no work or education requirements for taking the exams, due to their difficulty, it is suggested that the technician have at least one year of experience for installation level tests, two for service level tests, and at least five for senior level tests.

First, the technician must pass a Core exam, showing that they have general knowledge of the HVAC industry. This covers things like safety, tools, basic science, and other crucial subjects. Then, they take their specialty test, in order to show a depth of understanding of their area of expertise. If either the Core exam or the Specialty exam is failed, the technician is not NATE-certified until they retake the failed exam and pass.

Technicians must regularly re-certify themselves in order to keep their NATE-certified status, to show that they have retained the knowledge and kept current in the industry.

Benefits of Using a NATE-Certified Technician

The benefits of hiring a certified technician are clear: because they have proved their skills, you are more likely to get quality service when you need it. You’ll save time, knowing the job was done correctly the first time and that your equipment is running at peak efficiency. You’ll save money, knowing that your utility bills are lower, thanks to the expert knowledge of your technician. But most of all, you’ll be able to rest well, knowing that your HVAC worries are being handled by someone with the right skills.

Data shows that people are not only more pleased with the service they receive from technicians, but that they’re more likely to recommend them to a friend and are less likely to need to call back.


It’s important to note that NATE certifies technicians, not contractors. The organization does recommend companies where over 50 percent of the employees are NATE certified, but they cannot ensure that the technician you get will be NATE certified. They recommend that when asking for a technician, you verify their credentials and ask for the one with the most expertise. You can always ask for a specific technician with the credentials you need.

If you’re looking for technicians in the Mid-Atlantic region, make sure to contact us at Griffith Energy Services. We have 12 convenient locations and are always equipped to answer an emergency call, no matter the time. Not only are our technicians certified by NATE to work on any system, we also delivered over 100 years of service.

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