NATE Certification Study Course and Practice Test Drawing 44 (1)

 NATE HVAC/R Certification Basics

NATE certification tests represent real working knowledge of HVAC and HVAC/R systems and are designed to allow you to be certified in specific knowledge areas. You can earn installation, service or senior certification in one or more of the following specialty areas:

  • Air Conditioning
  • Air Distribution
  • Air-to-Air Heat Pumps
  • Gas Furnaces
  • Oil Furnaces
  • Hydronics Gas
  • Hydronics Oil
  • Light Commercial Refrigeration
  • Commercial Refrigeration
  • Ground Source Heat Pump Loop Installer
  • HVAC Efficiency Analyst (Senior Level)

 Getting Started

While the benefits of NATE certification are extensive, the steps to take to achieve NATE-certification are easy.

1. Select Your NATE Program

NATE offers multiple certifications divided into installation and service, and senior categories. You take the CORE (if required) and one SPECIALTY test to earn your desired certification.

All NATE exams are based on Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs), statistically proven job task analysis from experts in the HVAC/R industry. KATEs represent a wide variety of perspectives on subject matter pertinent to contractors, technicians, distributors, educators, manufacturers and utilities. KATEs outlines cover all information tested in each exam and should be used as reference material.

Anyone interested in obtaining NATE certification may take the tests. However, requirements for each certification can be different and may change as the industry changes. Review the KATE for each certification desired.

2. Prepare to Take Your NATE Exams

There are no educational or work experience requirements, yet NATE strongly recommends you have some formal training provided by an employer, a technical school or other educational institution before taking relevant NATE exams. We suggest:

  • One year of experience for installation technician tests
  • Two years of experience for service technician tests
  • Five years of experience for senior level technician

3. Take Your NATE Exams

To become NATE-certified, you must take the appropriate exam(s) to fulfill your certification requirements.  Most often this means you must pass both a CORE and a SPECIALTY test of your choice. The specialty certification can be INSTALLATION, SERVICE or SENIOR.   Please check the opening pages of the KATEs, (Knowlege Areas of Technician Expertise) to determine the requirements.

CORE EXAM. Tests your general knowledge, construction knowledge and HVAC/R-specific knowledge in the following areas:

  • Safety
  • Tools
  • Basic Construction
  • Using Basic Science
  • Achieving Desired Conditions
  • Taking Temperature and Humidity Measurements
  • Basic Electrical

SPECIALTY EXAM. Tests your knowledge of the installation, service maintenance and or repair of HVAC/R systems. Please review each KATE for specific requirements.

4. Earn Your NATE Certification

Once you pass both your CORE (if required) and a SPECIALTY exam, you will receive your official NATE certification packet, which includes:

  • A NATE certificate
  • A NATE wallet card
  • A NATE patch
  • A NATE specialty chevron
  • A NATE reflective truck decal

Check your NATE Certificate or wallet card for your certification’s expiration date.

If you fail either the CORE (if required) or SPECIALTY test, certification is not awarded until you successfully retake the test you failed. Certification requirements must be completed within two years of the date of the first exam passed. Please note: If two years elapse and you have not passed both tests, you must retake BOTH.

NATE Certification Benefits

The benefits of NATE certification are extensive and positively impact many group.

  • Contractors prefer NATE-certified technicians because they remain in the industry longer, know how to do the job right the first time and are more productive than non-certified technicians.
  • Manufacturers and Distributors know that NATE certification encourages proper installation and service, which means fewer warranty returns and, ultimately, a better bottom line.
  • Educators and Trainers benefit from NATE certification’s uniform testing standard.
  • Utilities appreciate NATE certification’s focus on correctly installing and servicing sophisticated HVAC/R equipment, which saves energy and money when operating at peak efficiency.
  • Consumers look for NATE certification because it ensures that a knowledgeable, well-trained and highly experienced technician will service their home heating or cooling system.

Ron Walker
Ron Walker

After retiring from the U.S. Marines and achieving his B.S. degree, Ron Walker entered the HVAC field. He has been an HVAC technician, service manager, and business owner. Working as a service manager, he spent many years training HVAC technicians to be more technically competent and really understand their trade. His passion for teaching and helping others resulted in the creation of HVAC Training Solutions, LLC.