Why should I choose a contractor with NATE-certified technicians?
NATE-certified technicians have demonstrated their knowledge of today’s increasingly sophisticated heating and cooling systems by passing a nationally recognized test developed and supported by all segments of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning industry. Consumers can rest assured that with a NATE-certified technician, they are getting the best installation and service for maximum comfort and economy in their heating and cooling system. Better installation and service mean a longer life for your heating and cooling equipment and increased energy efficiency. Technicians who are NATE-certified know that NATE stands for excellence and quality service.
How do I find a contractor with NATE-certified technicians?
Ask to see the technician’s credentials. You can validate a NATE ID number here. NATE-certified technicians carry a card which is proof that they have taken and passed the necessary tests. Many NATE-certified technicians wear the NATE patches on their shirts. NATE’s allows consumers to locate contractors by postal or ZIP code. Ask contractors you find on the NATE site to send a NATE-certified technician, as sometimes the contractor may have both NATE certified and uncertified technicians working for them.
What should I expect from a NATE certified contractor?
When using a certified NATE technician, you’ll experience optimal product efficiency, greater home comfort and most importantly, peace of mind.
ABOUT NORTH AMERICAN TECHNICIAN EXCELLENCE (NATE)
North American Technician Excellence (NATE,) headquartered in Arlington, VA, was founded in 1997 and is the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians. NATE is the only technician certification organization governed, owned, operated, developed and supported by the HVACR industry.
WHAT DOES NATE DO?
NATE, North American Technician Excellence Inc., is an independent, third-party non-profit certification body for HVACR technicians.
NATE’s certification tests represent real world working knowledge of HVACR systems and candidates can earn installation and/or service certification in one or more specialty areas. NATE certification tests are developed by the NATE technical committee. The NATE technical committee is comprised of industry experts who developed and oversee NATE’s Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs). Each exam is developed based on these knowledge areas of expertise. The technical committee represents a wide variety of perspectives including contractors, educators, manufacturers, and utilities. Members also are diversely spread throughout the country.
THE HISTORY OF NATE
Over 15 years ago a number of industry leaders came together to discuss concerns with the overall quality of field service and installation of HVACR equipment. From the perspective of manufacturing, distribution, and contracting, there were concerns that many individuals involved in servicing and installing systems and equipment lacked the proper knowledge and experience. And as a result, consumers and contractors were unhappy with recurring callbacks and added costs; manufacturers were receiving unnecessary and costly returns of equipment that were not defective; and technical advisors were plagued with repeated calls on service and installation questions that should have been common knowledge.
So in February 1997, North American Technician Excellence (NATE) was incorporated with organizational funding provided by manufacturers who guaranteed a bank loan through the Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Institute (ARI) and the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association (GAMA). The NATE coalition was established with representation from the contracting, distribution, manufactur¬ing and utility communities as well as several trade associations. An interim board of trustees was appointed, while sector committees (precursor to today’s Technical Committee) provided advice on test development. Pilot tests were given and on November 8, 1997, the first NATE tests were administered nationally.
Soon, our partners at the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) and the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES) unified their certification tests under the NATE umbrella. In 2000, our coalition of partners expanded to include North American Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Wholesalers Association (NHRAW), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other industry organizations. By the end of 2001, more than more than 10,000 technicians had earned NATE certification.
In the first half of the 2000s, NATE introduced electronic testing. Awareness and support of NATE began to grow. Manufacturers “dealer” programs began to include NATE as a key component. The U.S. Army awarded promotion points to soldiers who earned NATE certification and the Montgomery GI Bill approved NATE, making veterans eligible for reimbursement of test fees, a benefit that still exists today. And in a first of its kind decision in 2005, the city council of Terre Haute, Indiana amended its city contractor licensing code to require NATE certification.
The second half of the decade saw New Hampshire and Texas each include NATE as part of its state licensing process, while NATE expanded its specialty certification suite to include hydronic heating, and commercial refrigeration. During this time, we also introduced the highest-level NATE certification to date—the Senior Efficiency Analyst certification—to test a technician’s knowledge of the installation, service, maintenance, and repair of HVACR system to maintain high levels of energy efficiency. Consumer awareness of NATE was growing and NATE worked to build on that awareness with the launching of the www.hvacradvice.com consumer website to help homeowners find contractors with NATE-certified technicians.
Today, there are over 32,000 NATE-certified HVACR technicians providing world class service and installations throughout North America and the numbers continue to grow. Our growth over the years does not mean we can rest our laurels. Quite the contrary. Now, more than ever, we need to increase industry and consumer awareness of the benefits of technicians holding NATE certification. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013, the number of HVACR technician jobs is forecast to grow at a rate of 34 percent — triple the national average. Recently, Fluke Corp. and its Workforce Trends 2012 survey found that 85 percent of industry employers found it “difficult or very difficult” to find entry-level workers that had acceptable skills while 38 percent of employers said candidates lacked an applicable degree or certification. Meanwhile, the new 2013 American Home Comfort Survey found that roughly 30 percent homeowners who recently had new HVACR equipment installed had to have a technician come back to solve a problem.
That is why our new vision statement—a NATE patch proudly worn on every technician’s shirt—is a relevant today as it has ever been. Simply put, while there are many qualified technicians in the field, many more are needed. It is still necessary to raise the bar for the good of the industry and NATE must continue to set the standards and certify the knowledge base for quality HVACR technicians. We know where we have been and know that the future of our industry is dependent on the continuing growth in the number of NATE-certified technicians, for they provide the assurance of continued quality service, installation, enhanced system performance, and energy efficiency.