Anyone hiring a technician to work on an air conditioning system wants to be sure the technician knows what he or she is doing. Certification is one of the most important qualities that the customer is going to be looking for, so it’s crucial that you have the right certifications if you want to get work as a heating and air conditioning technician and it’s equally as important to keep those certifications up to date and ensure that they don’t expire.
The North American Technician Excellence certification shows that you have been properly trained and have learned how to specialize in a particular area. While there’s no specific training for NATE certification itself — it’s based on what you know overall, including your experience working in the field — it helps to get the right knowledge through your training. Being able to obtain NATE certification at the start of your career can only help your reputation as a technician. However, NATE does recommend having specific numbers of years in the field before attempting different levels of certification.
Certification through NATE underwent a drastic change in 2014. Certifications used to last for five years, and those issued before January 2014 will still be good for their five-year period. However, new certifications last only two years. To renew the certification, you undergo 16 continuing-education hours and apply for recertification. The previous requirement was 60 hours. An alternative is to retake the certification exam before your certification expires.
The HVAC Excellence certification is really a blanket term for a series of specialized certifications. These range from basic to professional to master-level certifications that require varying levels of preparation. Generally, you take these exams once you’ve obtained the necessary educational level or the necessary number of years of experience in the field.
Air conditioner specialists and other HVAC technicians have to ensure that the refrigerants used in the systems are handled appropriately because of regulations set forth in the Clean Air Act. Some HVAC certifications are based on specific sections of the Clean Air Act, such as Section 608. The good news is that Section 608 certification never expires. However, if you lose your certification card, you may have to retake the test depending on your situation.
If the card is lost or destroyed, the Environmental Protection Agency first recommends contacting the organization or school from which you got the certification. If the organization or school is still open, you’re in luck because it is required to keep a record of your certification, and it can reissue your card.
If the organization or school is no longer open, but you have a copy of your card or something verifying that you’ve gone through the education, testing, and certification processes, you can contact another organization that the EPA lists as issuing Section 608 certification to get a new card. If you don’t have proof but know that your certification data was given to the EPA, which has centralized records of its own, the process will be a little more complicated. The EPA will help you navigate the different steps and get a new card but if you have no proof of your own, no access to the original organization, and no proof on file with the EPA, you’ll have to act as if you don’t have certification and take the test again.
If you want to learn how to keep HVAC systems running well while protecting the environment from refrigerant pollution, check out Advanced Technology Institute’s HVACR training program. The HVAC Technology with Service Management (AOS) program at ATI offers experience and training for working with everything from small window air conditioners to huge industrial units and could lead to a career as a refrigeration or air conditioner installer and mechanic.
ATI is an authorized testing center for ESCO and NATE, and its refrigerant programs are approved by the EPA. Not only can you gain NATE, HVAC Excellence, and Section 608 certification, but you can also gain experience working with the refrigerant R410a. Classes are offered four days per week, and in 55 weeks, you can be certified to work with heating and air conditioning systems. Contact us at 800-468-1093 or request information on our website today.
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