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HVAC and food service training to help you get ahead in 2020

You’ve honed your skills through years spent installing, maintaining, and repairing commercial kitchen equipment. Are those skills evident to potential clients or employers? Or, maybe you’re new to restaurant equipment maintenance and want to expand your knowledge. Certification and extra training classes can help you add or refresh your skills as well as provide the assurance of excellence that employers and clients increasingly seek.

Some training classes involve several days of study at a special training facility. Other certifying agencies rely on self-study. All require you to pass a test.

The time and effort to attain certification in your specialty is worth it. By proving a certain level of expertise, certified technicians have more opportunities. Certification lets you tackle a wider variety of repairs, or specialize in certain areas, like refrigeration. Either approach can grow your client base.

Top certifications employers want to see

  • CFESA (Commercial Food Equipment Service Association) Certification. This association offers a variety of technical, management, and equipment-specific classes for all skill levels at its South Carolina training facility.

For example, the three-day Installation Training class prepares mid-level technicians to become team leaders. It reviews the basics of electricity and gas, as well as NFPA guidelines, code updates, safety, health and sanitation, CFESA forms and startup sheets, pricing, and other relevant elements. CFESA members who pass receive the certification, “CFESA Certified Installer.” Non-members receive a certificate of completion.

Another class, Electric, Gas. Steam & Water Quality Training, focuses on hands-on troubleshooting for new technicians and those wanting a refresher.

  • EPA 608 Technician Certification. This course is designed for technicians who service, maintain, repair or dispose of equipment containing ozone-depleting refrigerants, including HFCs and other substitute coolants. Separate certifications are available for small appliances (Type I), high-pressure (Type II) equipment, and low-pressure (Type III) equipment, and universal certification.
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Classes feature such core topics as environmental concerns, regulations, and substitute refrigerants before exploring type-specific details such as leak detection and repair, refrigerant recovery, disposal, and recharging.

To be certified, technicians must pass a proctored test administered by an EPA-approved certifying organization.

  • HVACR Certification. This certification covers the fundamentals of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) systems, teaching technicians to install and service them as well as troubleshoot problems with air quality, humidity, and temperature. In some states and localities, HVACR certification is required.

ESCO Group’s HVAC Excellence, for example, offers a series of professional certifications in specific fields. Professional certification requires two years of verified work experience in a particular area and passing a test. Master-level certification requires three years of verified experience, a demonstration of skills, and passing a test.   

Refrigeration Service Engineers Society offers eight specialized certification exams to its members. Likewise, North American Technical Excellence offers HVACR certification from “ready-to-work” through more than a dozen installation and service specialties, to its senior-level technician certification.

Certification classes also are offered at many local community colleges and vocational schools. Free practice tests are available online for some NATE, HVACR, and EPA certifications.

Do you have any other advice for those looking to get additional training? Leave your tips in a comment below, or visit our careers in the industry forum.