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The Difference Between Certification and Licensing

Difference Between Certification and Licensing

Don’t get confused about the difference between having your HVAC technician’s license and being certified.

  • Your license proves you’ve successfully completed the training offered by the trade school or community college you attended. It indicates you have the basic knowledge and skills to do the job as an HVAC technician.
  • You’ll still need to continue on with certifications beyond the license. These certifications prove that you’ve obtained specialized knowledge

More on certifications

Part of your job as an HVAC technician will be to work with refrigerants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires you to be certified for this. There are two more important certifications, as well.

There are four levels to the EPA’s certification, and which one you’ll need depends on your area of work.

  • Type 1 allows you to handle small appliances with less than 5 pounds of refrigerants (like a refrigerator).
  • Type 2 will allow the HVAC professional to deal with high pressure refrigerants.
  • Type 3 allows the handling of low pressure refrigerants.
  • Universal will include all three: Type 1, 2, and 3.

While the EPA certification is mandatory, there are two more certifications that make you even more valuable as an employee.


  1. You’ll be able to apply for the HVAC Excellence Certification when you have a minimum of 2 years of experience on the job. You’ll have to pass their knowledge-based exam, as well. Go back after year 3 and upgrade it to the master level.
  2. You’ll also want to become friends with NATE. That’s an acronym for the North American Technician Excellence Certification. It’s nationally recognized. Your exam-based certification will show you’ve got expertise in areas like gas furnaces, air conditioning, or even air distribution.