Without the assurance of North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification, it’s hard to know much about the person you allow into your home to service your heating and cooling equipment. In any profession, you occasionally come across the less-than-professional. These may be new hires without adequate background, getting on-the-job training at your expense. Or, they may be those whose skills are not up to date in a field that is advancing just as rapidly as any other technology. NATE was instituted in 1997 as a the HVAC industry’s largest jointly operated and governed third-party testing and certification organization. The goal of NATE certification is two-fold: to ensure that heating and cooling contractors have a pool of field technicians whose training and experience meet the highest industry standards, and to provide consumers with skilled professional installation and maintenance of heating and cooling systems.
In order to earn NATE certification, a candidate must pass rigorous examinations composed by industry experts selected from all facets of the HVAC field, including contractors, educators, major system manufacturers, gas and electric utilities and distributors. There is no one NATE examination that guarantees certification. A field technician must choose from one of two core exams, which also include specialty areas of HVAC technology. The core exams may be in either System Installation or System Service – the day-to-day skills in which any field tech must demonstrate full proficiency. Specialty topics also covered include Air Conditioning and Gas Heating, Air Distribution, Oil Heating, Air To Air Heat Pump Service, and other aspects of heating and cooling systems.
Industry surveys have shown that fully 87 percent of consumers prefer to schedule HVAC service from a contractor whose technicians have proven capability and are qualified with the technical skill and up-to-date knowledge to do the job right the first time. That’s probably why most HVAC contractors who hire NATE-certified technicians usually prominently display that fact by including the NATE logo on their website or company literature.
Even after a technician has earned NATE certification, the learning doesn’t stop. In order to be eligible for re-certification in five years, the technician must complete a specified number of classroom hours in his or her area of specification. This requirement demonstrates the constant advancements in the HVAC field and the industry’s commitment to keep field techs up to speed in the latest technology.
What NATE Means to You
For the homeowner, doing business with a contractor that invests in NATE-certified technicians has many pay-offs. Properly installed, maintained and serviced HVAC equipment is critical not only to the comfort level inside your home; it’s important for your family’s health and safety as well as your budget. Making sure the right people are on the job in your house is a practical consideration as well as a matter of peace of mind. Here’s how you’ll benefit from the training and skills that only NATE certification ensures:
- Proper installation at day one. A professional installation completed to rigorous industry standards is a major factor in system efficiency and performance. Improper installation by unqualified installers can build in system shortfalls that cost you money and impact indoor comfort for the life of the system.
- Fewer callbacks. Once a service or maintenance call is finished, you expect to be done with it and back to comfort and efficiency. NATE-certified technicians get it right the first time so you won’t have to be picking up the phone for a callback.
- Expertise and knowledge. A field tech with NATE certification arriving at your home already has the technical training and hands-on experience to diagnose the problem and make adjustments or repairs in a straightforward, systematic manner. You’ll get a professional evaluation of the problem and competent work in the least amount of time and disruption to your routine.
- Higher efficiency, longer service life. Major manufacturers’ specifications for energy efficiency as well as estimated service life depend heavily on maintenance and repairs completed to industry standards. When furnaces, air conditioners and heat pumps are properly serviced, you get the maximum energy efficiency and reduced wear and tear engineered into your system.
For more information on the benefits of NATE certification, or to schedule maintenance and service from one of our NATE-certified technicians, please contact us at Aqua Plumbing & Air.