Let’s say you want to be a technician, or at least hear of the trials and tasks it takes to fix an air conditioner or make sure that a vending machine keeps its drinks, chips, and candy cool and fresh. You may have heard about the EPA and, more importantly, their elusive certification in the form of the EPA Section 608 Certification.
If something must be certified, then it must be important. So, what exactly is the EPA 608 for? What kind of tests do you have to take to earn a certification? And are you the right person for the job? Let’s find out.
What Exactly is the EPA 608 Test?
Being certified is the only requirement for becoming a technician in the United States. You can thank the Federal Clean Air Act, instated in the 60s, which required that, among other details and legislation, all technicians in the United States must earn their certification through the tests administered by the Environmental Protection Agency, also known as the EPA. EPA Section 608 Technician Certification is the only way to become a certified technician.
The EPA and its regulations are in charge of determining what exactly a “technician” is and what they do. The EPA defines technician work into three types, each with its form of certification that deals with the service and disposal of refrigerant and heater equipment:
- Type I Certification, which deals with the industry requirements and recovery techniques for small appliances,
- Type II Certification, which deals with high-pressure, non-small appliances and well as how to test equipment properly,
- and Type III Certification, which deals with low-pressure appliances and systems in a vacuum.
The EPA Section 608 Technician Certification Test, or instead tests, is a way for the EPA to create the standards of technician work. The tests measure a technician’s ability to use specific types of equipment. These tests, administered by an EPA-approved organization, involve all three types and additional material and information. Become certified, and it does not matter where in the United States you are, how old you’ve had your certification card, or even if you lost it: you are an EPA certified technician.
But why exactly do you need certification? Who is the kind of technician who would require such a thing?
Who Needs EPA Certification?
Since 1967, the Clean Air Act requires that all technicians who handle, maintain, and dispose of equipment must be certified before doing so. Therefore, any technician worth their salt will need EPA 608 certified. The job market for any job that requires certification will be heavily weighed against those who do not possess it. Perhaps, if you are lucky, an old friend will pay you to repair their air conditioner. But getting a lucrative job in refrigeration and heaters requires an EPA certification!
Technicians are people who have a study hand, steadier arms, and the steadiest head on their shoulders. Technicians handle machinery and appliances that affect the daily lives of the common people in their homes and the large institutions and buildings that run stores and companies, like schools, supermarkets, apartment buildings, and offices. It is easy to assume that being a technician is an important job, and there must be some way to know that a technician is qualified for the job.
We have neglected to mention what would happen if you perform technician work and are not certified. Unfortunately, technicians without official certification who violate the Clean Air Act may face up to five years in prison (even more if they commit multiple offenses) or face a hefty fine. This punishment is designed to prevent the misuse of equipment, as the machines a technician work with could potentially harm the technician, the people around them, and their environment.
The qualifications for becoming a technician are otherwise not high at all. For example, there are no outstanding requirements, like needing a certain level of education or a college degree, to take the EPA 608, nor do you need it after passing it. Once you pass these tests and become certified, you can pursue practically any job in the field–and these jobs pay incredibly well!
To summarize, technicians and people who love to work with appliances (and don’t want to go to jail for doing so!) will need EPA certification. But this summary only begs one question: how exactly can you become EPA Section 608 certified?
How Can You Become an EPA 608 Certified?
There is only one way to become EPA 608 Certified, and thankfully it is not only straightforward but pretty easy to clear.
The EPA Section 608 Technician Certification test is split into five test sections: three of these sections cover Type I, Type II, and Type III Certifications and, if completed, will earn you the certification in that field. The three type tests, as well as the Core section, are made up of twenty-five multiple-choice questions.
- The Type I test typically involves questions and queries on small appliances–the things found in people’s homes and smaller, less power-hungry institutions. These are the most fundamental questions to answer.
- Meanwhile, the Type II and Type III tests are focused on larger and higher-end equipment (high-pressure and low-pressure appliances, respectively) and involve questions that test the examinee’s understanding of how to use and test said equipment.
The Core section of the test and Universal Certification, however, are unique. These questions are fundamentally not unlike the other types, but you need to pass Core and one other form of testing to receive your certification. However, the Core section is not certification–in fact, it is coupled with the Type I testing, which practically means you must complete the Type I test section to get certified at all.
Universal Certification is a whopper, governing all three types of certification–the test itself is made up of one hundred questions, each taken from the previous tests. Both the Type II and Type III test sections are optional: you pass the Type I test, earn your certificate, and never look back. But you must complete the Core, Type I, Type II, and Type III sections if you want to complete the Universal Certification test.
Those are a lot of tests to take. Unfortunately, they are not free either. What does it cost to take these tests?
How Much Does It Cost to Become EPA Certified?
We must first say that the benefits of becoming EPA certified, which include an actual career as a technician with well-paying jobs and opportunities, will far outweigh the cost it took to get them. The fees will seem quaint when you’ve gotten your certificate and look back. However, as of now, while you still haven’t completed your certification tests, you need to watch for those prices.
Taking an EPA Section 608 Certification test ranges between $20 to $150, but it ultimately depends on the organization you are taking the test with and the test itself. Type II and Type III tests have a higher examinee price than the Type I test, and do remember that you need to complete the Type I test to become certified. And yes, the Universal Certification exam must also be separately paid for before you can take it.
Thankfully, the only additional fees are optional costs to attend training seminars and other ways to help you prepare. While these bumps the final costs up significantly (in some cases, up to $300!), it is hard to say that you should ignore these opportunities, even if you are not liquid at the moment.
We have talked about the content, necessity, and costs. Now all that is left is to discuss how to pass these tests in the first place.
How to Study and Prepare for the EPA 608 Universal Certification?
To be EPA Universal Certified is to complete the Universal Certification test, which is a culmination of all the previous tests (Core, Type I, Type II, and Type III). The EPA’s way of testing your general and advanced knowledge will not be something you can overcome through sheer luck or good vibes alone.
Due to how the test is designed, we can assume that you can pass the other tests if you can study for the Universal Certification test. The best way to prepare for certification is to study for the Universal Certification test and work your way down.
Through these general but beneficial tips, you can pass the Core, Type I, Type II, Type III, and Universal Certification tests with little more than a head stuffed with all sorts of technical knowledge and the know-how to use it effectively.
Create a Study Schedule
The first and deceptively most crucial advice you should take is to build a study schedule. Your study schedule should involve when you are going to study, what you will learn on that date, how long you will study, and wherever and whenever you are going to squeeze in some free time. It is one thing to look at a study guide every so often, but the key to studying material so that it sticks in your head instead of being forgotten is to do it repeatedly until it is all you can think about.
And speaking of study guides…
Study the Study Guide
The EPA has issued an official EPA Section 608 Certification Study Guide, explicitly designed to help any fledgling examinee understand what they are looking for in a technician and what to expect on the final test. Where real-world experience fails, a study guide is there to help. The EPA Section 608 Certification Study Guide is concise, accessible, and readily available from the EPA and EPA-approved organization websites.
However, a study guide is only a guide and nowhere close to the real deal. If you want the experience of taking the EPA Section 608 Certification tests, look no further than…
Prepare with Practice Tests
The internet is home to a broad selection of EPA Section 608 Certification practice tests. While the EPA itself does not create them, these practice tests are based on the actual certification tests and the experiences of people who have taken and completed the tests themselves. You will likely not find the actual test answers on these practice tests, and they only cover as much as the Core, Type I, Type II, and Type III test questions. However, the practice tests teach you how exactly the tests are formatted and answered, which in many cases, is more valuable than knowing the answers directly. If you do not understand what the question is asking, you cannot hope to solve it.
Wrapping Things Up: What is EPA 608 For?
What is the EPA 608 for? Well, to be honest, quite a bit. It is required to become a technician, and if you are aiming for a career in fixing and servicing appliances, it is literally criminal to miss out on this. But is it an arduous endeavor? Is it an unnecessary step towards success? We cannot agree with that. If you take the steps needed to prepare for and complete your EPA Section 608 Technician Certification, the only thing that will happen is you walk away with a neat certificate and a whole world of lucrative job offers and challenges. So we say, go for it!