Patrick Murphy, NATE director of technical development, talks about the benefits of having NATE-certified technicians.
KISSIMMEE, FL — Representatives of the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) spoke with attendees of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America’s (ACCA’s) 34th annual conference. The topic? “Making NATE Work in Your Company.”

Patrick Murphy, director of technical development for NATE, said that the NATE test, a requirement for certification, is not the same as it was previously. “The test is not like it was five years ago — not the 300 question monster,” he said. “It is broken up into three 50-question segments.”

Murphy said that taking a long test is unnatural for service technicians, especially those who know the material. “How many technicians do you know who like to take eight-hour exams?” he asked. “Who likes to take exams at all?

“But training is simply putting information into your conscious mind from your unconscious mind. Believe me, the guys know how to do this. However, we are bringing in people as technicians who shouldn’t be technicians. These people aren’t stupid — they just need to be trained.”

Murphy asserted that NATE does not rest on its laurels. The organization is always reviewing and updating the exam information. “We continuously review all of the questions for accuracy,” he said. “If we find out that information is potentially misleading or incorrect and a person taking the test gets the answer wrong, we will credit the person with the correct answer.”

A member of the audience asked Murphy about bringing NATE certification into votech programs.

“It might be a good idea to dovetail the NATE testing into two- and four-year college programs,” Murphy responded. “This might work well with parents who encourage their kids to get a college degree.”


Murphy also believes that contractors should take an active role in seeing that their technicians become NATE-certified. “Help the guys through better training,” he said. “It can help you out with the retention rate. Your technicians are your most important asset. You are willing to invest a lot of money in technology; it is also critical to invest in your technicians. Being NATE-certified promotes professionalism.” And Murphy said there is another good reason to have well-trained technicians. “There is a lot of money not going to the bottom line because installations and service are done incorrectly,” he said. “There is a way to prove this. Contractors should try to track the results of a NATE-certified tech’s service calls and callbacks vs. a non-certified tech.” Murphy noted that “there is no such thing as a NATE-certified contractor. The correct definition is a contractor with NATE-certified technicians. “Believe me, as soon as a contractor begins losing market share to other contractors, they will look to having NATE-certified technicians.”

Publication date: 03/25/2002