Pursuing a career in heating and air conditioning means getting a HVAC certification, each state will vary in their requirements for HVAC technicians so it doesn’t hurt to look at what your state requires.
There are two main certifications that most of the Trade Association offers; the first is NATE or the North American Technician Excellence. Another HVAC certification that is offered is EPA 608, which is a government certification. There are four types of EPA 608; Type 1 covers small appliances, home a/c units. Type 2 is for individuals who work with high pressure refrigerant, which includes HCFC-22, typically found in grocery store refrigeration, heat pumps, and process refrigeration. Type 3 covers individuals who work with HCFC-123 and CFC-11, or low pressure refrigerant; this is usually found in chillers. Finally there is the Universal that can be obtained by anyone who is already received the first three.
The government requires EPA-608 and so they have programs in place to help including the EPA itself. Other than the government, trade associations are another great way to get a HVAC certification. The National Inspection
Testing Certification is one of the trade associations, a third party provider for the piping industry certifications, in order to qualify for NITC you must have at least five years’ work experience with installing and servicing HVAC piping. Depending on the trade association the HVAC certification can vary. The Air Conditioning Contractors of America or ACCA offer certification both in EPA 608 and NATE. The AHRI, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute offers thirty-eight different certifications, the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society, also offers NATE certification, as well as their own RSES Certification.
Some other options that are available through various trade associations are the HVAC Excellence, UA Star, TABB, and AABC. HVAC Excellence certification is offered through a non-profit organization and covers a couple distinct HVAC certifications, the Professional level and a Master Specialist. These two types are not required to work in the field of HVAC, however they are recognized in the industry and employers appreciate seeing these two types of HVAC certification. UA Star Certification is offered through the multi-craft union of The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices. STAR certification is similar to NITC in that you have to have five years of experience in order to be certified, you also have to undergo an apprenticeship program.
TABB or Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing Bureau in conjunction with the International Certification Board, developed a set of standards that all HVAC technicians will have to meet in order to qualify. While it isn’t required, many employers appreciate this type of certification because it gives the technician a certain amount of credibility. In order to qualify for certification the technician has to work for at least two years, and have completed the International Training Institute. The last type of certification is the AABC; The Associated Air Balance Council another non-profit association offers four different certificates. The first Test and Balance Engineer, Test and Balance Technician, Commissioning Agent, and Cleanroom Testing Engineer, and are designed for technicians who are interested in management positions or who want to run an HVAC company.