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HVAC Technicians & Certification

On a fairly regular basis, I find that there is some confusion about technician certification in the HVAC industry, and I’m not just talking about consumers.  For example, some technicians who work in the air conditioning and refrigeration business are of the impression that they are required to hold a certification on R-410A in order to work on those refrigeration systems. Not true.

The confusion on this issue likely comes about from a misunderstanding about the two types of certification categories that exist relative to the HVAC industry. These categories are:

1. Those required by federal or state law.

2. Those that are industry-sponsored certifications and are voluntary; not required by any federal or state law.

The most common in the required certification category, of course, is the EPA Section 608 refrigerant handlng certification that is required of every technician who performs service on refrigeration systems. It is simply a violation of the Clean Air Act of 1990 to connect a set of gauges to a refrigeration system, add refrigerant to a system, etc…without being certified

In the second category are certifications that technicians can take a test to earn, and their purpose is to demonstrate  competency. The R410A certification I mentioned above is one example of this type of certification. NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certifications also fit into this category.

Both types of certifications serve a purpose. One brings a technician into accordance with law, and the other provides an opportunity for a technician to improve his or her understanding of their craft (after all, one just doesn’t sit down and take a closed-book exam without some preparation and learning), and then convey their higher level of competency to their customers.

My stance on voluntary, industry-sponsored certification is that, while it may not be required by law, every technican should pursue it in order to improve their skills, provide the best possible customer service, and raise the standards of the industry in which they’ve chosen to pursue their craft.

The points I’ve made in this post are only the beginning of what I have to say about this subject. In my next post, I’ll delve further into the the topic of HVACR technicians and certifications.