Basics of Maintaining NATE Certification

Bobby Ring
Bobby Ring
Over the course of my career, I’ve seen countless changes in the HVACR industry due to the frequent advancements in engineering. These continual changes require us all to stay ahead of the curve by regularly updating our knowledge and information about the industry, equipment, and regulations. For technicians, maintaining North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification is a great way to demonstrate their current, continuing expertise.

While some of us contractors may have policies and practices in place to encourage the technician to maintain their NATE certification, the responsibility ultimately falls on the technician. The NATE wallet card shows the technician’s specialty(s) and the expiration date(s), which can serve as a simple reminder to the technicians of when they need to recertify. What I always tell my technicians is that the easiest way to stay on top of certification is to avoid waiting until the last minute, and to absolutely avoid a lapse in certification.

Recertification before the five-year expiration date requires the technicians to simply retake their specialty exam, or provide evidence of participation in 60 hours of continuing education courses. These continuing education courses can be submitted to NATE in two formats: 1) NATE-recognized courses; and 2) courses that are not officially recognized by NATE.

With courses that are NATE-recognized, the instructor submits an official NATE attendance sheet confirming that the technician completed the course, and NATE adds the hours to the technician’s personal record. Although NATE handles the records for these courses, technicians should also keep a certificate for their own files.

On the other hand, courses that are not previously approved by NATE, or NATE-recognized, are still valid and accepted for recertification. The difference is just that technicians must keep track of these hours until it’s time to recertify, at which point they must submit written documentation of their completion of the course, such as a certificate or other written proof of attendance.

In terms of cost, NATE offers a tiered pricing structure for recertification with continuing education hours. The cost to recertify an individual specialty is $95. For multiple recertifications done at the same time, NATE offers discounted pricing: two recertifications cost $125, three recertifications cost $150, four recertifications cost $175, and five or more recertifications cost $200.

What I stress to my team is that it’s important to recertify before the expiration date, because a lapse in certification requires them to start the process from scratch, meaning that the technician must take both the core and specialty exams again. Once technicians have become NATE-certified, it’s undoubtedly in their best interest to maintain this recognition of expertise through regular recertification. As contractors, we should encourage our crews to stay on top of it and support them with the process in any way that we can. After all, having NATE-certified technicians allows us to better serve our customers, sets us apart from the competition, and ultimately improves our bottom line.

For more information about recertification, visit the Recertification section at Technicians can update their contact information to ensure they’re on file to receive reminders and notices regarding NATE recertification by visiting or contacting the NATE office at 877-420-NATE.

Publication date: 10/22/2012

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