In this issue you will find the fourth and final part ofThe News’industry certification series. Over the past four weeks, we’ve tried to present as much information about certification as we could. In fact, we uncovered so much information over the last few months in preparation for these articles that we could have put together a 10-part series.

We looked at some of the more popular certification programs and how they work. We took a look at North American Technician Excellence (NATE) and its growth over the years. We also visited with representatives from the unions to find out how they certify and train technicians. And this week, we feature two technicians and two contractors who have reaped the benefits of certification.

With all the information that is out there, it is easy to see how some contractors and technicians would have questions about the issue. Where do you go to get certified? Who should pay for the exam? What is the benefit of getting certified, and which certification is the most recognizable? Hopefully, The News was able to answer some of these questions, or at least help contractors form some opinions about the current climate of certification.

If there is one thing that I believe is apparent throughout this four-part series, it is that our industry really is trying to bring itself up to a higher level.


The fact that the HVACR industry is looking for an image change is nothing new. For years, contractors have been trying to find a way to portray a more professional image. The purpose of this is twofold: to instill faith in consumers and to convince potential technicians that the HVACR field is a challenging and rewarding career path.

I think it is safe to say that a large segment of the public currently views the HVACR industry as a last resort for individuals who finished at the bottom of their high school graduating class. How can you blame them? There are a lot of bad examples of service techs out there. We’ve all seen those hidden camera segments on “Dateline” and other popular news shows.

Certification is a step towards blotting out this problem. It is not a cure-all, but it is a step in the right direction. Certification, when successful, raises the bar. Ideally, when there is a higher standard to aim for, the good service technicians will all be on the same page, while the mediocre service techs will fall by the wayside.


It’s true that our industry has not settled on one testing organization to handle a nationally recognized certification. I believe that contractors would like to see one universal certification, but at this point in time, things are a bit divided. But that is to be expected. With so many differing opinions in the industry, it’s hard to find one certification that will make everyone happy. But in the meantime, I believe that the certifications that are out there should make us all proud.

For the certification series, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with representatives from HVAC Excellence, from the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), and from NATE. I was also fortunate enough to meet individuals from the United Association (UA) and from the Sheet Metal Workers Inter-national Association (SMWIA).

All of these associations and groups have their own strategies and ideas for transforming the industry. But what they all have in common is enthusiasm. Each of these groups is proof that our industry is working overtime to take ordinary technicians and make them into something better. More precisely, these associations are working hard to take your industry and make it more profitable, more acceptable, and more knowledgeable.

You may not know exactly where you want to go to get certified, but at least remember that help is out there. If you want to prove your level of expertise, the HVACR industry has no shortage of associations designed to help you become a better technician.

Siegel is training & education editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1731; 248-362-0317 (fax); (e-mail).

Publication date: 09/30/2002