You should have been at the meeting on Dec. 5 in Arlington, Texas. A bunch of people were talking about North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certification and you would have liked what you heard.

However, because not everyone can squeeze into one room, an influential group of industry leaders representing various contractor and distributor associations, manufacturers, and business owners sat in for you. They spent a day at the Decision Analyst Inc. research campus in Arlington to discuss NATE certification and to craft a general message to help drive more technicians to become NATE certified. You can be assured that every one of them has the industry’s best interest at heart. (Really, I’m not being sarcastic this time.)

So, why is that important to you? Why should contractors care that people sit in conference rooms talking about the future of HVAC? After all, the rubber meets the road every day in your businesses whether or not you bother to certify your technicians.

Who needs certification and what is it anyway? (OK, I am being sarcastic this time.) Fortunately, two very astute Dallas-Fort Worth-area contractors were in attendance at this meeting, and consistently held everyone’s feet on the ground. One owner counted 14 various certifications that he had at his fingertips. “Which one is better?” asked Steve Saunders, president of Tempo Mechanical, a new construction and service contractor in Irving, Texas. “What is going to make me put NATE at the top of the list and be the one that I’m going to promote to my customers?”

Saunders received part of the answer during the course of the day. Research was presented by experts including host Decision Analyst, The Service Roundtable, and Clear Seas Research, a BNP Media company. Consumer and contractor surveys revealed an encouraging growth in the acceptance of NATE certification. One very interesting fact was the qualitative research provided by The Service Roundtable that indicated substantial cost savings were likely as a result of employing NATE-certified technicians.


That’s right. Technicians with NATE certification credentials may save an HVACR contracting firm real dollars in the form of reduced callbacks and warranty. How much? That’s debatable. In fact, it’s so debatable that most columnists will use words like “may save” and “cost savings were likely” in addition to employing a myriad of other hedging tactics. When you see the data hit the streets, you may see some of the same treatment. That’s because it is always better to be conservative than to go out on a limb.

Suffice to say, the conservative savings for any contracting firm should be in the thousands of dollars per technician. You can do the math yourself. NATE will soon be making a “calculator” available that you can use to determine the approximate cost savings for your company.


NATE is growing.

The number of certified technicians is expected to be in the neighborhood of 100,000-plus by the year 2010. From the approximate 22,000 technicians who are currently certified under the NATE banner, to a goal of more than 100,000 may seem like a far stretch. However, the tipping point has been reached and testing is increasing rapidly.

What would make it grow even faster? The No. 1 reason for not seeking NATE certification is time, according to the Clear Seas research presentation. Evidently, a perception exists that causes people to think that it either takes a long time to get the training to become certified or that the certification itself takes a long time.

Cost is another issue cited, but it is further down on the list. Frankly, the test does not cost very much and some distributors and manufacturers will pay for your certification testing. Back to the time issue: If you are already investing in training, you do so because you realize the benefits for you or your company. If not, this isn’t going to change your mind - the time to take the actual certification test is only a matter of a few hours, and you can take the test online if you want.

It’s a no-brainer if you want to set yourself, your company, or your technicians apart as being the best professionals in the business.

Soon, many more technicians will Take the Test to see if they can make the grade. Not all do. It is the most thorough, industry-recommended, rigorous test you can take to prove that you are the professional that you say you are.

Take the Test. Get NATE certified.

Publication date:12/18/2006