Added respectability and validation has come to the air duct cleaning industry via a certification program conducted by the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA).

The program to certify professionals in the air duct cleaning field began in November 1995. Since then, more than 750 contractors have passed the NADCA exam and have become certified “Air System Cleaning Specialists.”

What are the benefits of becoming certified?

According to NADCA, “Through certification, contractors can demonstrate to their clients and their colleagues that they have the requisite knowledge and experience to do the job right. Consumers will benefit from the ability to select contractors who have been tested as knowledgeable and proficient in their field.

“Professional credentialling sets businesses apart from their competition. As the public gains recognition of the benefits of hiring certified contractors, cleaning specifications now often require that the successful bidder have NADCA-certified personnel on staff.”

Certification can be obtained by passing a NADCA certification examination. Exams are offered at several sites throughout the country on a regular basis.

Individual certification

The association’s program offers certification to individuals. Those who pass the NADCA certification examination are designated certified “Air Systems Cleaning Specialists” (ASCS).

Certified individuals may use the credential in marketing their own expertise. Certification is not transferable to other individuals.

Hvac system cleaning companies that meet the association’s stringent membership qualifications and have at least one certified ASCS on staff may apply for NADCA Certified Regular Membership. Certified Regular Members are listed in the Membership Directory section of the organization’s website.

The association recommends that an owner, principal, or key employee of a company become certified. This individual must be a full-time employee, be directly responsible for project management, and have daily interaction with staff and clients.

Some companies may wish to have several individuals on staff take the certification exam. There is no limit to the number of company representatives who can become certified, and it is a real marketing advantage to offer clients a certified contractor on every job, the association says.

Getting prepared

There is no structured training class associated with this certification exam. Nor is there a training manual or custom-tailored instructional manual.

NADCA states that it does not intend to teach people how to perform hvac system cleaning. “Rather, the association’s goal is to test contractors’ existing knowledge and experience, and reward those who can conclusively demonstrate their competence.”

Of course, candidates will need to prepare for taking the exam. The Candidate’s Guide to the examination includes a list of recommended reading materials, as well as a detailed list of subject areas included within exam questions.

While knowledge of industry codes, standards, and other materials will certainly be tested, a large percentage of exam questions are based on the ability to correctly apply practical knowledge and field experience to different situations.

Test credentials

According to NADCA, the certification program was developed in accordance with testing procedures created by the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA), under the close supervision of independent test-development experts.

These procedures included an industry-wide survey which gauged the criticality and frequency of various industry practices, as well as knowledge and subject matter areas which contractors in the industry indicated they felt were important toward competent work in the trade.

The NADCA Certification Committee used the information gained through its survey to define the content of examination questions. Questions were then written by members of the committee who are highly experienced hvac system cleaning contractors.

Test questions were carefully scrutinized for their difficulty and fairness, and the best questions were hand-picked for inclusion in the exam, says the association.

Certification renewal will be required every two years. To qualify for renewal, certified individuals will be required to earn a designated number of continuing education credits. Individuals who do not accrue sufficient continuing education credits two years after the time they became certified are required to re-take the examination at the regular fees.

The next opportunity to take the Certification Examination is in conjunction with the association’s Technical Education Seminars, to be held Sept. 17-19 in Washington and Chicago, and Sept. 24-26 in Los Angeles and Jacksonville, Fla.

A two-day seminar on hvac system cleaning will be conducted in each city. The cost to take the certification exam is $275 per candidate for members of the association, and $775 per candidate for non-members.

For seminar literature, an exam application, and a Candidate’s Guide, contact NADCA, 1518 K St. N.W., Suite 503; Washington, D.C. 20005; 202-737-2926; 202-347-8847 (fax); (website); (e-mail).