If you own or manage large commercial properties, then it is likely that you will eventually require the services of commercial heating and cooling specialists. Residential heating and cooling systems are already highly complex and potentially hazardous, but commercial spaces add a variety of challenges that require contractors that are highly trained and skilled. Although it always pays to do more detailed research when selecting a contractor for your business, one of the easiest steps you can take to determine if a particular contractor is up to the job is to check on that contractor's licenses and certifications.

Government vs. Private Certifications

Licensing and certifications are the two types of qualifications that will be held by most contractors. Certifications are awarded both by private and government organizations and generally require that a contractor pass both written and practical exams. There are a large variety of certifications offered by many different organizations, covering topics that range from general to highly specific.

One of the most basic certifications that will be held by almost all contractors working with coolant systems is the Section 608 Technician Certification. This certification is offered by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved third party organizations. There are four separate certifications under Section 608, with each covering a different type of equipment. The highest level of certification is the universal, or type four, certification. Section 608 certification is considered a basic requirement in the industry for any practicing contractor.

Most states in the US have additional licensing requirements for HVAC contractors as well. Angie's List offers a comprehensive list of licensing requirements by state. When researching contractors, you should first understand the exact licensing requirements for your state so that you can confirm that the contractor you will be working with is properly certified and licensed. Be sure that the contractor you are working with is not only licensed and certified as a general HVAC contractor, but that they also meet any additional requirements for the specific work they will be doing on your property.

North American Technical Excellence

Although there are a wide variety of certification organizations offering many general and highly specialized certifications, North American Technical Excellence (NATE) is considered to be the industry standard. NATE offers several certifications for both individual technicians and contractors, as well as general and more specialized exams. NATE tests progress from relatively entry level certifications to exams that certify a commercial heating and air contractor or technician as a master-level HVAC specialist. Contractors that hold one or more NATE certifications are highly trained and skilled professionals.