Are you looking for a career? Something that will allow you to get out there and explore the world? A career that will not only allow you to be comfortable but one that will be rewarding every day? That is exactly what the HVAC field has to offer. When you become an HVAC tech, you are joining an in-demand field that will give you complete control of your financial future.
Just think about it! Heating has always been a necessity, but central air conditioning is a different story. Well, you wouldn’t think so given the case today. In fact, it is extremely rare to see a home without central heating and air system. And, these systems are mechanical with tons of moving parts and accessories that will eventually go bad.
Needless to say, the heating and airfield is one that is in high demand and offers opportunities anywhere you go. If you know how to work on an air conditioner in Kentucky, you’ll know how to work on an air conditioner in Tennessee. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to legally do so without the right certifications.
What is HVAC Certifications and How to Get Them
Certifications are a huge part of the heating and air industry, and if you want to venture into it, you are going to need to understand the certifications, how to get them, and what they are used for. That is exactly what you are going to learn in the comprehensive guide
The EPA Certification
If you know anything about the heating and airfield or if you are just venturing into it, it is likely that you’ve already heard of refrigerant, Freon, or gas. The substance goes by many different names, but it is virtually the same thing. It is the gas that runs your cooling system.
It will run part of your heating system as well if you are using a heat pump, but that is a whole different topic of conversation. What you really need to know right now is that you cannot legally handle, purchase, work with, or sell this substance with an EPA certification.
HVAC refrigerants are highly dangerous substances that are mishandled every day. And, when they are mishandled it can cause major damage to the ozone. This is why the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) puts such a huge emphasis on the substance.
Any technician that works with refrigerants will be required to pass a certification test in order to prove that they can safely handle these hazardous materials. The EPA test comes available in three different certifications, which are Type I, Type II, and Type III.
The test is sometimes referred to as the EPA 608 Certification, but it is basically the same thing in a manner of speaking. The exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions and the questions are representative of the most relevant topics covered in the evaluation.
What you really need to know about the test is that it comes in 4 different parts. You have the three different types along with the core section. The core section is the essential must of the test. It is the section that you have to pass in order to become certified. For instance, you can pass Type I, II, and III, but if you fail core, you fail the entire test.
If this is the case you will be in luck because when you return to take the test, you’ll only have to go back over the core section. You can also pass the Core, Type I, and Type II, but fail Type III. If this happens it means that you’ll be certified for Type I and Type II. When you return to take the test, you’ll only have to take the sections that you failed.
Type I Certification –Type I is pretty much the section of the test that covers the repair and maintenance of small HVAC appliances. This could include things like window air conditioners, residential refrigerators, and freezers. You will need at least 80% to pass this section of the Test.
There are practice exams available online or usually provided in a classroom setting. If you are able to score 80% on a mock test then you will have no problem doing so on the real thing. The time limit for this section of the test is 120 minutes.
Type II Certification – This section of the test will consist of 60 different multiple choice questions and answers. If you pass the Type II section it means that you’ll essentially be certified to work on equipment using a high-pressure refrigerant like HCFC-22.
This type of equipment could include anything from residential heating and air equipment to supermarket refrigerators. You will also need at least 80% or better on this section of the test in order to become qualified. The time limit for this section of the test is 120 minutes as well.
Type III Certification – The Type III section of the test is a bit different, as is consists of 70 different multiple choice questions and answers. This also means that the time limit is increased as well. When working on this section of the test, you’ll have 140 minutes to complete it in full. You can turn it in without completing in full, but this would on degrade your chances of passing.
All that aside, if you pass this section of the test it’ll virtually mean that you are qualified to maintain, service, or repair low-pressure appliances. It also means that you’ll be able to dispose of low-pressure appliances that could be expected to release refrigerants into the atmosphere. It will also take an 80% or higher to be considered qualified for this section.
Universal Certification – There is also something known as a Universal Certification. When you get this certification it basically just means that you are legally allowed to work on and maintain both low and high-pressure systems or appliances. In order to become universally licensed, you will need to pass all four parts of the test, Type I, Type II, Type III, and the core section.
Other EPA Certifications
If you plan on working in the residential or commercial heating and airfield, you’ll without a doubt eventually need to get an EPA 608 Certification. However, there are several other categories of certifications available other than the ones mentioned above here.
These would include the EPA Section 609 Technician Certification, Indoor Air Quality Certification, PM Technician Certification, and Green HVAC/R Certification. It is only the 608 Section of the test that has different types to choose from. You will need this section of the test if you plan on working on any of the equipment that was mentioned above.
Section 608 Technician Certification – This section of the test generally applies to individuals that want to work in the HAVC automotive industry. You’ll need to be certified in this section if you plan on legally working on motor vehicle air conditioners.
R-410A Technician Certification – If you’ve been following the HVAC industry then you’ve likely heard talk of R-22 being phased out. If not, you need to know that R-22 is the type of refrigerant that was used in both commercial and residential air conditioners in the past.
It is still commonly being used, but there aren’t many companies that are willing to sell new systems with the refrigerant. In fact, considering that the cost of the refrigerant has skyrocketed, it would be very uneconomical to purchase a system with this refrigerant.
Fixing a leak and recharging the system would cost you an arm and leg. This is where the 410A Certification comes in. This refrigerant is safer to the ozone and this section of the test is available to anyone who already has Section 608 Certification.
Indoor Air Quality Certification – If you pass this section of the test it’ll mean that you will be legally allowed to service, clean, and inspect the HVAC system. You will not be able to legally do anything with the refrigerant, but you can repair electrical components, change filters, clean coils, and diagnose electrical problems.
PM Technician Certification – This section of the test is only available to EPA Section 608 certified techs. It contains all areas of acid and moisture detection, water removal, coil maintenance, and more.
Green HVAC/R Certification – You’ll find that this section of the test is not really required to maintain or service equipment, but more and more companies are requiring it. They are doing so because there is a huge growing demand for environmentally smart HVAC technology and that is exactly what this section covers.
The certification teaches how energy conservation can be used in the heating and cooling industry. Anyone looking to get into the field could benefit greatly from this section of the test because there is the direction that the industry is headed in.
R-410 Certification For HVAC Techs
As you just learned above, the R-410A section of the test is not something that is required. However, this doesn’t mean that you should overlook it or the Green Certification if you plan on getting into the industry. If you are eager to get started you don’t have to jump on the certifications right now, but they will certainly be worth considering in the near future.
That being said, 410A is an extremely high-pressure refrigerant. Techs working with it are advised to take a special training course in order to safely work with it. Although it is not a legal requirement as of yet, there are many employers that are going to want to see proof that you are trained in the special characteristics of 410A.
In addition to this, manufacturers of HVAC equipment are also aware of the special skills and talents required to safely use 410A. This means that they may require the certification in order to buy this type of equipment. They might also be willing to offer the training course, but it would more than likely be something that you’ll have to pay for.
Your employer might be willing to foot the bill because it would only go towards furthering your education and skills in the field. Considering that 410A is becoming the new norm, it only makes sense for someone in the industry to get certified. And, it probably really won’t be that long until it is required.
NATE Certification For HVAC Techs
NATE stands for North American Technician Excellence and it is a nonprofit organization that certifies HVAC technicians. The organization got its start back in 1997 and has been going strong ever since. It was a group of industry experts that decided to launch the organization.
Their goal is to make sure that techs know how to service and handle HVAC appliances, accessories, and equipment with the utmost safety and efficiency. These tests are extremely rigorous and this is why they are split into several different sections, similar to that of the EPA test, although the EPA test is nowhere near as in-depth.
Just to give you an example, with the NATE test, you can solely test for oil heating. There are nearly a dozen different single certifications that you can go out for. You can get qualified specifically for boilers and chillers or commercial equipment. This test is completely voluntary from a legal standpoint, but there are some employers that might require or at the very least, encourage it.
The NATE Test goes way beyond teaching you how to safely handle the equipment and measures your knowledge on the fundamentals of HAVC technology. When you are NATE Certified, you are showing people that you are one of the best in the industry.
Who Must Get EPA Certified?
If you are going to work in the heating and air industry, you are going to need an EPA Certification. The USA government requires all individuals who work with controlled refrigerants to be certified. In the United States, all individuals working and using refrigerants must be EPA 608 Certified. Now, it is possible that you can get hired on with an HVAC company and not already have this certification.
This is especially true if you are coming on as an installer or installation helper. You’ll likely be working with another individual with the proper certification. However, if you plan to stay with the company long-term, you’ll likely be required to get the certification.
That being said, there are more and more companies requiring potential candidates to get the certification. Considering that the certification is federally required and it’ll only increase your chances of getting the job, it just makes sense to do everything within your power to get the certification as soon as you know that you are going into the heating and air industry.
Those who go through the EPA certification process will not only have a better chance of gainful employment, but they’ll gain a better awareness of the laws and procedures that cover the handling of HVAC systems and chemicals.
How To Get Certified
If you are interested in getting EPA Certified there are several different ways that you can go about doing so. It also depends on the type of certifications that you are looking to obtain. For instance, if you want to get the EPA 609 Certification, which gives you the ability to work on automotive air conditioners, all you have to do is go to a local Auto Zone or Advanced Auto Parts and pick up a test.
The test is something that you can take at home, so it would be virtually impossible to fail unless you just wanted. Unfortunately, the 608 section of the test cannot be handled in the same way.
If you want to get certified or prepared for the 609 section of the test, you will need to go to an organization approved by the EPA. Here you will find training that covers EPA rules, regulations, ozone depletion, the Montreal protocol, DOT cylinders, refrigerants, leak detection., refrigerant oils, recycling, and recovering and servicing different kinds of appliances.
This type of training also helps you understand the potentially harmful effects that the substance can have on the ozone. Another way to get certified, which was mentioned above, is to get hired on with a company. The company will likely take you under their wing and pair you with someone that is already certified.
They will, however, later required to get your own certification, but they will more than likely do everything for you, including paying for the test. If you can get hired by a company beforehand this is certainly the way to go.
Getting 608 Certified Online
If you are like most people these days, you like doing things online. Heck, you can do just about anything online these days and it certainly is more convenient. Unfortunately, this is necessarily the case for the 608 certifications.
Yes, there are some parts of the test that can be taken online, but the more advanced certifications that are usually required by employers will have to be taken in person. Type I can be acquired online, but Type II and Type III will need to be taken and passed in person.
Just remember that if you do take the Type I and pass, it only means that you’ll be able to work on units with 5 pounds of refrigerant of less. This virtually means refrigerators, small wall mounted coolers, and anything that doesn’t have more than 5 pounds of refrigerant.
With the certification, residential and commercial will be off-limits. You will not be able to touch this type of equipment until you get a Type II or Type III certification. Type II and Type III are sections of the test that must be proctored. This means that you have to go to a physical location, have your ID checked, and get watched while the test is taken.
Unfortunately, there is no online certification for Type II or III. It would be kind of useless just to have the Type I Certification alone since it limits most of the units that are worked on today. Refrigerators and old window-mounted units are hardly worked on. Most people just automatically replace these items when they go bad because they are so cost-effective.
You can get a window unit for as little as $100. And, when you throw in the fact that the new models are sleeker and more energy-efficient, it only makes sense just to go ahead and buy a new one. The same thing can be said about refrigeration units.
Of course, this could always be different for some individuals out there. There are probably some people that will need this certification, but just having Type I alone seems kind of useless.
Why You Should Obtain A Georgia HVAC Certification
Is it worth it? Should you spend time obtaining a certification? All likelihood, you’ll find that it will pay off in the long run. As an HVAC tech, you’ll be able to help people and you’ll make a lot of money. Plus, you will agree that the HVAC field is growing in this state.
This means that the demand for HVAC techs is on the rise. You will likely be able to find a job as an HVAC tech in Georgia easily. If something goes wrong with one job, you should be able to switch conveniently.
You’ll also have the chance to create your own business. More importantly, you’ll work with your hands and help people. If this is something that interests you, it is time to work toward getting an HVAC certificate.
Ways To Get An HVAC Education
To become an HVAC tech, you will need to attend classes and study the field consistently. This can be tough since it is constantly evolving. Before you can obtain an HVAC certification, you will need to gain an understanding of the field and the equipment you’ll work with.
Well, you should know that you can learn more about heating and air conditioning by attending classes at a community college. Alternatively, you’ll want to think about becoming an HVAC apprentice.
Both options have pros and cons. So, you’ll want to learn more about both options before deciding which one is going to work best for you. If you want to get started right away, you should become an apprentice. The only downside is that your pay is going to be limited for several levels. As a college student, you won’t get paid at all until you’ve complete the course. Nevertheless, you’ll likely be able to obtain the certification much sooner.
Understanding The Origins of Refrigerant
If you are going to become certified there are a variety of things that you’ll need to know. While a practice test can virtually get you ready for the real thing, there are also tons of things that you can do to prepare yourself. And, the first would be to learn about the origins of refrigerant. You might be surprised to learn it, but the first refrigerant that was widely used and sold was ammonia.
It was utilized back in the mid-1880s in refrigeration equipment. It was such a popular and sought after substance at the time because it was extremely effective as absorbing heat.
The only problem was that it was highly toxic and this is why it eventually got phased out. Older versions of the refrigerant used today started getting produced in the 1920s. Unfortunately, they were also discovered to be more toxic, but luckily manufacturers were able to reduce the toxicity in them, which made it possible for in-house use. However, you can see that they are becoming phased out more.
Throughout the United States, HVAC technicians are in high demand. Companies in the industry are always on the lookout for qualified technicians with the most HVAC certifications. Many HVAC schools work with these companies to help them find suitable new-grads to hire. If you show your instructors that you are dedicated, willing to learn, and prepared to start working immediately after graduation, you may get a few jobs offers before you even take the HVAC-R exam.
What does high demand mean in this case? It basically means there is plenty of job availability. With that said, the demand may not be as high in rural areas as metropolis areas. If you reside in an area where HVAC technicians are not in high demand, you may be required to relocate to score a decent job.
Knowing the demand in your area will prove valuable to your case. You can utilize this information to determine if HVAC is the right career goal for you. It could also prevent you from making a bad career decision.
Working as an HVAC tech in the United States can be very fun, exciting, and rewarding. However, you must obtain a certification before you can enter this career field. With that being said, your top priority should be gaining an education and hands-on experience.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to take the exams and get the certifications that are required. Remember that there are numerous ways to achieve this goal. So, you should choose the route that is going to work best for you and your lifestyle.