The 4-1-1 on HVAC Contractor Education and Certification

In any professional industry, there are reputable businesses and not-so reputable businesses. The HVAC industry is no different. While recommendations and online reviews are a good place to start, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of education and certification when it comes to choosing an HVAC company or contractor. It could mean the difference between an expensive botched repair and a seamless experience.

It’s important to select a reputable, experienced contractor that has been in business for a long time. If you go with a contractor that isn’t operating with the required licenses or isn’t sufficiently skilled, you may be put in financial jeopardy when things go wrong. Here’s the 4-1-1 on HVAC contractor education and certification, to help you hire with confidence for your next HVAC job.

License, bond and insurance requirements

A Contractor’s License is required by Arizona law for any contract that exceeds $1,000, including labor and materials, or if the work involved requires a permit. Many states mandate that HVAC contractors meet a minimum level of education and experience requirements, and pass a written exam before they’re officially licensed to work in the industry. In Arizona, aspiring contractors must have at least four years of relevant experience before they take the licensing exam. Licenses need to be renewed every two years.

There are three HVAC license options available in Arizona:

  • R-39: For the installation, repair, and alteration of residential HVAC systems
  • C-39: For the installation, repair, and alteration of commercial HVAC systems
  • CR-39: A duel license for the installation, repair, and alteration of both residential and commercial HVAC systems

Always ask for your contractors six digit Register of Contractor’s (ROC) license number before beginning any sort of work. You can search the license number online on the Arizona Register of Contractor’s website to make sure it’s current.

To maintain their license, HVAC companies and contractors are usually required to hold a minimum level of bonding and insurance. This includes liability insurance, to protect you and your home in the case of accidental damage or injury. The dollar amount of bonding and insurance depends on several factors, such as an estimate of their annual volume of work. You can find the individual bond amount by searching for your contractor using their ROC license.


With the growing complexity of HVAC systems, contractors need comprehensive education on common problems and repair methods. While some certifications are mandatory, others are an opportunity for a contractor to deepen their understanding of the industry and open themselves up to a wider range of opportunities.

As a homeowner, you should be familiar with the following HVAC certifications, in order to make sure the contractor you choose to work with holds them.

EPA Certification

EPA certification is required for an HVAC contractor to handle refrigerants, according to EPA regulations under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. Since refrigerant is the life blood of an air conditioner, this is one of the most important certifications an HVAC contractor must hold before you consider hiring them to work in your home.

There are four types of EPA certification:

  • Type I: Small appliances such as window/room air conditioners, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and freezers
  • Type II: High-pressure air conditioning and/or heating units
  • Type III: Low-pressure air conditioning and/or heating units
  • Universal: Includes Type I, II, and III certification

Registrar of Contractors certification

Another important certification to look for in a reputable contractor is certification with the state Registrar of Contractors. Never hire a contractor that is not recognized by the state in this way. A reputable air conditioning and/or heating contractor working in Arizona will be licensed with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors—no exceptions.

North American Technician Excellence (NATE) education and certification

NATE is a non-profit certification program for technicians in the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) industry. NATE certification is one of the most recognized and highly-regarded certifications in the entire industry. As a homeowner, you can consider it a vote of confidence towards a contractor’s ability to successfully diagnose problems and install equipment with expertise. While every company claims their technicians are the best of the best, NATE certification lets you know they’re telling the truth.

Participation in NATE is voluntary, and reflects an individual’s desire to better themselves and deepen their understanding of their field. NATE certifications are divided into three categories. Each one has a recommended amount of work experience before taking the test.

  • Installation: 1 year of experience
  • Service: 2 years of experience
  • Senior: 5 years of experience

If a contractor claims to be NATE certified, you can verify by asking for their NATE ID and searching for it on the organization’s website. You can also use their website to find NATE certified contractors in your area.

Professional associations

Most reputable residential HVAC contractors belong to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) or the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). The ACCA has a locator you can use to find local contractors that belong to their organization. Membership in these organizations shows that the contractor is reputable and aligned with organizations that set industry standards for maintenance, installation, and more.

Continuing education and training programs

Continuing education and training are crucial in the ever-evolving HVAC industry. Some companies may not be willing to invest in keeping their employees current with the latest technology. They may lead you away from newer and more energy-efficient equipment in favor of older systems, simply because that’s what their employees are used to. If you have a system they’re unfamiliar with, they may attempt to learn on the job and use your system as practice.

To make sure you’re working with a professional who has the latest industry knowledge, the HVAC company or contractor you select should have a formal technician training program. Chas Roberts has a full-time training department that holds thousands of hours of training each year, showing our commitment to bringing only the latest and greatest HVAC technologies to the families we serve.

Chas Roberts: Where experience and education meet

With so many companies and contractors vying for your money, it’s good to know that there’s always one name you can trust in the HVAC industry—Chas Roberts. For over 75 years, we’ve helped homeowners throughout the Valley with HVAC problems, both big and small. For maintenance, repairs, installation, and everything in between, contact us and enjoy superior service every step of the way.