HVAC Certification Overview

Nate Exam – HVAC NATE Certification

The HVAC industry is experiencing rapid growth and employers are looking to hire applicants with HVAC NATE Certification. Why? Because individuals who are certified by North American Technician Excellence Inc are considered the cream of the crop. If you want to pursue a career in HVAC, this is a good certification to have.

What Is NATE And Why Is Their Certification So Important?

North American Technician Excellence Inc is a non profit organization established in 1997 that was created for the sole purpose of creating a top notch HVAC technician certification program. They are the largest most respected organization in the HVAC industry. Their level of training and testing is so thorough that employers know if an applicant is NATE certified they must be the best.

NATE will provide you with all the necessary credentials to work in any area of HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration) The tests are created based on real world situations. So passing the NATE test means you’ve mastered several areas within HVAC. It tells a potential employer that your skills reach beyond “book” knowledge. It means you are prepared to handle most any HVAC situation as it arises. It is the gold standard of HVAC certification.

Types Of Certification

The HVAC NATE certification program offers several different types of certification in several specialties.

Oil Furnaces
Senior HVAC Efficiency Analyst
Air Distribution
Heat Pumps
Light Commercial Refrigeration
Hydronics Gas
Air Conditioning
Commercial Refrigeration
Gas Furnaces
Hydronics Oil

Why Is Certification So Important?

Potential customers are often informed to hire NATE certified technician if they want the job done properly. Employers are already aware of the reputation of quality when it comes to their certification programs. If there are two applicants applying for the same position, but only one has NATE certification. The one who is certified is more likely to be hired.

NATE is the largest and the only technician certified program that is completely supported by the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry.

The NATE Test

Every exam is created by professionals in the HVAC industry. The questions are based on real life on the job problems that occur when working on the job. After taking this test you will have a clear understanding as to whether or not your HVAC training has really prepared you for a serious career in the industry.


You do not need any special training to take the HVAC NATE certification exam. Anyone can take the exam as long as they pay all required fees. However, it stands to reason that if you do not have any real world experience as an HVAC technician, an apprentice or some other formal training. You will be at a severe disadvantage. Although experience and training are not required to take the exam, NATE recommends you reconsider testing until you’ve acquired a proper education.

NATE Exam Costs

The actual costs to take the NATE exam varies depending on which approved partner you choose to take your test with. Each may have additional administrative fees in addition to the exam fee itself. NATE gives approved testing centers referred to as “proctors” a suggested fee. However each testing center can decide on what they will charge. You can however expect to pay at least $100 to $150 per test.

Exam Prep

You can take a NATE certification prep class to help you prepare for the actual test. Be sure the class you enroll in is a NATE recognized class. You can also purchase exam preparation material prior to the actual test date.

Taking The NATE Exam

You will need to decide which exam to take. Based on what your interests are and with the help of the NATE Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATE) you can test in the areas most beneficial for you. You can test for service, installation or senior level technician within any area of specialty.

Once you’re ready to take the exam, it will be multiple choice and may or may not be taken via computer. Each section of the exam will be timed. You will know before the test begins how much time you will have to complete the test.

The specific exams you can take are:

Core Exams- This is to test your over all knowledge of:

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

Specialty Tests – These are tests that focus on installation and service that will include but are not limited to:

Air Conditioning Installation
Gas Heating (Air) Installation
Oil Heating (Air) Installation
Hydronics Gas Installation
Light Commercial Refrigeration Installation
Commercial Refrigeration Installation
Service Specialty:
Air Conditioning Service
Oil Heating (Air) Service
Light Commercial Refrigeration Service
Commercial Refrigeration Service

Once you pass the exam your HVAC certification is valid for 5 years. After which you will need to take a re-certification test.

The HVAC NATE Certification exam is not easy, but passing can mean greater rewards for employment, recognition and career advancement.