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What is NATE Certification?

NATE (North American Technician Excellence) certification represents real-world, working knowledge of HVAC and HVACR systems. Technicians can earn installation and/or service certification in various specialty areas. The exams are based on the Knowledge Areas of Technician Expertise (KATEs), which are developed through comprehensive job task analysis. Subject matter experts from all across the HVACR industry, including contractors, technicians, distributors, educators, manufacturers, and utilities, contribute to creating these exams.

Earning Certification

To earn NATE certification, a technician must pass both a Core test and a Specialty test with a grade of 70% or higher. The Core test comprises 50 questions, while the Specialty test contains 100 questions. Upon passing both tests, the technician receives a wallet card, a certificate, a NATE patch, and a specialty chevron.

If a technician fails one of the tests, they must retake the failed test. The passed test does not need to be retaken. However, candidates should wait 30 days before retaking a test to allow time for further study. Certification requirements must be completed within two years of passing the first test, or both tests must be retaken.

The NATE Family of Tests

NATE offers several tests, divided into service and installation paths. Each test assesses relevant applied knowledge. To become NATE certified, a candidate must choose either the service or installation path, pass the Core exam, and then pass one of the Specialty exams listed below:

  • Air Conditioning Service
  • Air Conditioning Installation
  • Air Distribution Service
  • Air Distribution Installation
  • Air-to-Air Heat Pump Service
  • Air-to-Air Heat Pump Installation
  • Gas Heating (Air) Service
  • Gas Heating (Air) Installation
  • Oil Heating (Air) Service
  • Oil Heating (Air) Installation
  • Hydronics Gas Service
  • Hydronics Oil Service

Technicians have 4 hours to complete a NATE testing session. Typically, the Core test takes about one hour and fifteen minutes, while the Specialty test takes about two hours and ten minutes. Technicians may use a non-programmable calculator during the test, but other electronic devices such as cell phones are not allowed.

Additional Resources

SWACCA Facilitates NATE testing two times a year - please contact us for more details or check out upcoming events

Links to NATE Training Resources, Materials, and Practice Tests:

Study Guides and Reference Materials:


By obtaining a NATE certification, technicians demonstrate their expertise and commitment to excellence in the HVAC industry, ensuring the highest standards of service and installation.

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