What Are the Requirements for an Air Conditioning Certification?

If you enjoy working with your hands and are able to grasp both mechanical and technical concepts easily, pursuing a career as an air conditioning technician may be the right path for you. Air conditioning professionals install, service and maintain complex systems and are often required to obtain certification in order to gain employment. Keep reading to learn more about certification options within the industry. Schools offering Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Certification Options for Air Conditioning Professionals

Air conditioning professionals are often referred to as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, most employers of HVAC professionals prefer to hire those who have earned some type of postsecondary training. You can enroll in associate's degree, certificate and vocational training programs at community or technical colleges. These programs should provide you with the practical knowledge and hands-on skills necessary to pursue certification options. Obtaining certification can provide an advantage in the job market and can also offer career advancement opportunities. The following organizations offer a number of certification options.

Important Facts About an Air Conditioning Technician Career

Median Pay (2018) $47,610 (all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers)
Job Growth (2016-2026) 15%
Work Environment Homes, schools, hospitals, office buildings
Similar Occupations Electricians, Sheet metal workers, Boilermakers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Certification

As an air conditioning professional you will likely handle refrigerants and other air conditioning equipment. In order to do so, you must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency provides certification for air conditioning technicians who work on stationary systems or motor vehicles. Core topics included on the stationary air conditioning certification test include ozone depletion, refrigeration, recovery techniques, safety issues and dehydration. The certification test also covers how to handle small appliances, high pressure systems and low pressure systems. Certification is obtained by passing the EPA technician certification test, which is offered at over 70 EPA-approved locations throughout the country (www.epa.gov).

HVAC Excellence Certification

Founded in 1994, HVAC Excellence is a not-for-profit organization offering over 40 exams leading to a variety of certifications for professionals in the HVAC industry. As a new technician you can demonstrate your industry knowledge and skill level through one of the organization's Employment Ready Certifications. The Professional Level Certification is available to those with two years of work experience, while the Master Specialist Certifications require at least three years of work experience. The Master Specialist Certifications allow you to demonstrate your knowledge and skill level through hands-on examination questions. Specialty areas for the Master Specialist Certifications include residential air conditioning, heat pumps, light commercial refrigeration and combustion analysis.

North American Technical Excellence Certification

North American Technical Excellence, or NATE, is a not-for-profit organization that provides a number of air conditioning certifications, including those in air conditioning, air distribution and commercial refrigeration. Their examinations are designed to test skills and knowledge in all areas of the HVAC industry. Technicians who are just starting out or have only been employed within the industry for a few years have two certification exams available. These are the ready-to-work certification and the HVAC support technician certification. Technicians with at least two years of job experience are eligible for certification in areas that include but are not limited to oil heating, hydronics gas, air distribution and commercial refrigeration.

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