MCCLEAN, VA — North American Technician Excellence (NATE) has had quite a year. Numbers are up all around for the testing organization, including passing rates and the number of tests taken. Even the average passing grade has increased.

NATE attributes this success to several initiatives that have been put in place. And NATE is not resting on its laurels. The organization has highlighted a number of future developments that it believes will ensure even more growth. Part of this plan is the adoption of a new NATE spokesperson and some TV airtime.

According to NATE president Rex Boynton, by the end of April, the organization will have certified approximately 11,000 technicians. He also says that in the first quarter of 2002, NATE has seen an aggregate passing rate of 69%. This is up from last year’s average passing rate of 59%.

Boynton believes that several initiatives set forth by NATE and its industry partners have helped in reaching these new numbers. One example he cites is the availability of test preparation and training.

There are 300 test sites for the NATE exam, and 25% of them are offering test preparation and refresher courses.

“We encourage technicians to seek this preparation or refresher course,” says Boynton.

He also says that technicians who take a refresher course before the test have a higher performance rate. To be more specific, these technicians are scoring a passing grade of 75% to 93% on the exam.

NATE is also extending its reach and getting the word out on the benefits of NATE certification. Many of NATE’s association partners have taken the initiative to get information on the exam to its members. Boynton says that all of its industry partners have been invaluable in promoting the certification. One of the most recent examples is the relationship with the Air Conditioning Contractors of American (ACCA).

ACCA’s incoming chairman Jim Hussey announced a NATE goal at the organization’s annual meeting. Hussey said that it would be his goal to get 2002 technicians certified in the year 2002.

ACCA and NATE are currently working on how this will be accomplished, but it will involve the availability of the exam and preparation packets through ACCA chapters.

“ACCA has really stepped up big time to endorse NATE and push it through their organization,” said Boynton.


Boynton also credits NATE’s success with the amount of media attention the test has been receiving. More and more technicians and contractors are aware of the certification, as are more homeowners.

For example, NATE launched its Consumer-Contractor Connection (C3). By going to the NATE website, consumers can enter their city, zip code, or area code, and find the nearest NATE certified technician in their area. As of March 30, 3,100 zip codes were represented in the C3 program.

And NATE is getting the word out to homeowners about the certification and why they should get a NATE certified technician to work on their system. This includes banner ads at the Home & Gardens website, which reaches over a million visitors, and the website’s e-mail newsletters.

NATE hopes to reach a greater share of the public when it begins work with public broadcasting. NATE has teamed up with Beverly DeJulio. DeJulio is the host of the PBS television series “Handy Ma’am,” which provides tips on home improvement, maintenance, and redecorating. DeJulio will serve as a spokesperson for NATE.

Carl Smith, director of marketing for NATE, explains that NATE technical director Pat Murphy will appear on “Handy-Ma’am” to help viewers prepare for the cooling season. The segment with Murphy will also emphasize the value of having a NATE certified technician.

The NATE episode will air in markets with the most certified technicians. Exact airtimes and markets will be released at a later date.

Publication date: 04/29/2002