NATE, or North American Technician Excellence, is a non-profit organization that offers certifications for the HVCAR industry. These certifications cover heating, air conditioning, ventilation and refrigeration. There are no eligibility requirements to earn a NATE certification; you do not need to have proof of prior training or experience. To become NATE certified, take and pass the appropriate exams. If you are successful, you will receive a NATE ID card that verifies to employers and clients that you are competent in your field.
Select a specific certification you would like to earn. NATE offers 21 tests. You must take at least one core test and one specialty test to become NATE certified. Your certification may focus on either installation or service. For example, you may take the core exam for installation, then choose a specialty, such as gas heating installation or commercial refrigeration installation. If you choose to become certified in service, you must take the core service test, plus a specialty, such as air conditioning service or hydronics gas service. The full list of specialties is available on NATE's website.
Locate a NATE testing session near you. NATE does not administer the exams itself; the exams are administered by independent organizations. These organizations are often trade schools, training centers and unions. To find a testing session near you, go to NATE's website and type in your zip code under “Find Testing Organizations and Scheduled Tests.”
Contact your selected testing session coordinator with the information provided on NATE's website. Arrange a specific test date. Fees may vary, depending on the organization that offers the test. Ask the test session coordinator about the amount of the fee and acceptable forms of payment.
Take your scheduled tests either electronically or on paper. All electronic tests are proctored; you must still go to the testing site to take them. Bring a photo ID. If you have tested with NATE before, bring your NATE ID. You may use a calculator, but will be barred from bringing cell phones and other electronic devices into the testing center. You have a total of four hours to complete both the core and the specialty exam, according to NATE's Certification Test Session Information (see reference 1). To become certified, pass both tests.
Keep your NATE certification current by re-taking the specialty exam before five years have elapsed. If your certification expires, you must also take the core exam, in addition to the specialty exam. Or, you may become recertified by submitting proof of at least 60 hours of continuing education. Contact NATE for information on current fees for recertification.