According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), any professional handling refrigerants or working on refrigeration and air conditioning equipment must possess an EPA certification. These licenses indicate that you are qualified to handle, build, repair and otherwise assess motor vehicle air conditioners and small, low-pressure and high-pressure appliances. Prices vary based on the certification you pursue, and programs are available online or in-classroom from a number of EPA-approved providers.
EPA Section 608 certification is designed for professionals working with air conditioning and refrigeration systems -- and it's offered at four levels. Type I certification qualifies work on small appliances requiring five pounds or less of refrigerant. Type II certification approves work with medium-, high- and very-high-pressure appliances. Type III certification is specific to low-pressure appliances. Universal EPA 608 certification qualifies work on all three. EPA Section 609 certification, on the other hand, validates work on motor vehicle air conditioners and is required to purchase refrigerant in volumes less than 20 pounds.
EPA 608 Certification Pricing
Of the three kinds of EPA 608 certification, Type I study materials and testing are typically the least expensive. Mainstream Engineering's EPATest.com, for example, provides free study materials and charges $24.95 for online testing. Type II and III testing is restricted by law to a proctored classroom setting and runs anywhere from $25 to $50 plus training costs. California-based CalCERTS, for example, charges $300 for six training hours plus either test, whereas Indianapolis provider AC/C Tech's training and test runs half that price. Repeat attempts at any of the three exams are typically $5 to $10.
EPA Section 609 Certification Pricing
The EPA Section 609 test is administered in open book format and consists of 25 multiple choice questions. The test is offered both online and in person, and can be taken repeatedly -- at an additional $5 to $10 fee per attempt -- until you've obtained a passing grade. The ESCO Institute, for example, offers free study materials online and hosts Web- or classroom-based testing for a fee of $20. Mainstream Engineering's EPATest.com is another online option with identical pricing. Most online providers permit access to the exam within 24 hours of registration and payment.
Though helpful for preparation, study materials and training is not a requirement. Testing is all that's required to achieve certification, so you may be able to save some money by borrowing reference guides from a library or purchasing them from a local book store. Several websites also offer free practice testing. Expect the official test to feature questions about EPA regulations as well as questions about your specific area -- like local recycling rules and state safety regulations. A minimum passing score will be required for each test.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.