No End to Education: Trainings and NATE Certifications Are Vital for Growth
February 25, 2021
As legendary basketball coach John Wooden often said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
Continued education, training and certifications can be important in any industry—and the HVAC industry is no exception. In fact, it’s arguably more important than ever given the advancements being made in heating and cooling systems and higher demands in customer satisfaction. As manufacturers, we know first-hand the speed at which we need to innovate and evolve, and we are working daily to ensure contractors and technicians are equipped with the products and training to answer the demands of a technically advanced and energy-efficient marketplace.
Daisy Weill, marketing manager for North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the nation’s largest non-profit certification organization for heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technicians, says that everybody within the HVAC ecosystem—contractors and technicians themselves, as well as manufacturers and consumers—all have something positive to gain from trainings and certifications.
Return on Investment is High for Contractors and Technicians
For contractors and technicians, the tangible and intangible outcomes of extra trainings and certifications are plentiful.
“For a contractor that’s looking to hire new technicians, they prefer ones that are certified,” says Weill. “Through surveys that we’ve done, we know that NATE certified technicians on average have higher salaries than non-certified technicians, are considered more valuable to their employers and are preferred among customers.”
Many technicians also find an extra boost in confidence after going through trainings and certifications given the extra experience required of them and overall improved expertise.
See a Rise in Customer Satisfaction
For homeowners, having trained and certified technicians servicing and installing their systems results in increased customer satisfaction, among other advantages.
“A lot of times, if something is wrong with your system, it’s easy for the homeowner to assume it’s the equipment itself and it’s not something that went wrong in the install process that can be fixed,” says Weill. “For a consumer, having a NATE certified technician means that when they come out and install or service equipment, they’re going to be doing it correctly the first time.”
Customers find that they save money when their heating and cooling systems are properly serviced and installed because their systems are running more efficiently, resulting in lower utility bills. Their NATE certified technicians also catch and repair issues sooner when they do run into a problem, requiring fewer system replacements and callbacks.
Manufacturers and Partners Receive Positive Payoffs
Even though end-users, like homeowners, are directly affected by their HVAC systems every day, a majority of them aren’t aware that their contractors and technicians can receive special certifications and trainings through independent organizations like NATE. That’s why Weill emphasizes the importance of their partners—industry associations, utilities and manufacturers—recognizing and promoting certifications.
“We’re focused on communicating with contractors, technicians, distributors and manufacturers inside our industry,” says Weill. “We really rely on our partners to help us make sure customers and promoters understand the importance of hiring NATE certified technicians.”
Ultimately, those partners who use trained and certified technicians to service customers will receive positive payoffs knowing that quality contractors and technicians are installing and servicing their equipment carefully and properly.
Where Contractors and Technicians Can Look for Trainings and Certifications
There are an abundance of trainings and certifications available for HVAC professionals, so how do you know where to start? Begin by checking with a manufacturer you regularly work with to see what they can offer you. Rheem, for example, offers Rheem Academy, a one-stop resource for professional training opportunities taught by industry experts. Ruud also offers similar learning experiences through Ruud University.
Contractors and technicians should also look to independent organizations like NATE. For technicians with two or more years of experience, Weill recommends NATE’s newest certification pathway: the Certified HVAC Professional (CHP-5) exams, a series of five exams testing technicians on HVACR fundamentals, electrical and controls, comfort and airflow, installation and service.
“We now have two different certification pathways, so by that I mean we have two different ways technicians can become NATE certified,” says Weill. “We have the traditional pathway and then the CHP-5, which is five, 30 question exams. It covers all the same material as the traditional pathway but by having these five separate exams that each cover a specific topic, our hope is that it will be easier for technicians studying for the exam to prepare. They walk into each one knowing exactly what the exam is going to cover, so it’s easier for a technician to progress.”
NATE also offers certificates for technicians with less experience, like the “Ready-to-Work” certificate for individuals just entering the field and the “HVAC Support Technician” certificate for individuals who have been working in the field for up to a year. Both of these certificates help technicians build a solid foundation ahead of earning their CHP-5 certification.
“You don’t have to earn either of those certificates in order to earn your NATE certification,” says Weill. “But if you’re looking for a way to stand out as a technician and you’re not quite ready for NATE certification, the certificates are a great way to demonstrate that you’re ready to work in the field.”
If you’re a contractor or technician looking for additional training and certifications, check out Rheem Academy, Ruud University or visit NATE’s website for more information on how to sign up for their CHP-5 exams or other certification offerings.