Usefulness of EPA 608 HVAC certification?

How useful is the EPA 608 Certification? Will it help at all if you’re going to sea as an engineer vs on shore?

If one does not have it they can not (legally) work on refrigeration or air conditioning equipment. One would expect it to be a requirement to have (or get) along with your USCG license for the job.

From an educational and practical standpoint it is amongst the most useless certifications I’ve ever received. It has nothing to do with actually working on refrigerant systems and all about the refrigerant laws, regs, and dates.

From an employment standpoint many employers like to see it and/or require it. So that’s the reason you should get it.


Haha, my teacher echoed your point saying the test was basically a history test. Thanks for the answer

Those with the 608 Universal that have the knowledge & willingness to fix simple HVAC problems are guaranteed to always have friends, family & random acquaintances who want you to come look at their heating & air conditioning problems. Around where I live most HVAC wholesalers won’t sell you parts unless you have it so it is good for saving money at home. It is extremely helpful if you get into real estate investment & managing properties. Also, if you live in a state/rural area that is lenient about the trade professions the 608 universal, proof of insurance & a business license might be all you need to start you own HVAC company if you ever consider it.

Concerning the shipboard aspect, I have never been asked to show it but heard stories from a couple of guys who said they had.

you should get it onto your license. Once it’s there you won’t have to worry about it anymore. I think i paid $60 to get it … or it’s predecessor about 100 yrs. ago!

I am going to get it on my own for whatever it’s worth so I can go back to doing freelance relief gigs once I retire from ____. Employer _____ pays for some non stcw job specific training but made it a competitive process, which counts me out since I got written up last year. for the first time in my life

MACS—-mobile air conditioning association —study guide and test used to be free. I dunno if it would translate from automotive to marine qualifications, but it would be a useful addition anyway.

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609 (Motor Vehicle) Certification is not the same as 608 (Universal) Certification and would be of no use aboard ship. I would not waste my time with it.

EPA Section 608 vs Section 609 – What You Need to Know - HVAC Training 101

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Well, anyone that has Hvac experience and knows what the guages tell them and the appropriate amount of correct coolant aboard or access to it would be more than welcome when I am sweating my ass off or reeferrs not cooling. Regardless of what the document says. I say get the experience.

If you want to risk someone dropping a dime on you for knowingly letting the someone work on a reefer without the proper certification, you go right a head. Guaranteed shoreside will happily throw you under the bus.

I damn well checked to make sure any new Electrician/Reefer had the certification when he came aboard or he didn’t work on a Reefer or any A/C machinery. Just the way it is.

The laws that pertain to this were passed 30 years ago and are part of the Clean Air Act. Violate at your own risk.

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Talking from personal experience here. Almost anyone can get the 609 online with no knowledge of reading gauges or reading anything else. It costs $19.99 online. Its really not that hard to get the universal & even near illiterate people can get it. If a person hasn’t put in the minimal effort to get the universal they probably haven’t put in the minimal effort to get the basic knowledge required to work on home HVAC systems IMO. It would be the equivalent of paying a 6-pax captain & Jiffy Lube tech to run a ATB.

If you have twenty bucks & 20 minutes you can get your 609, its open book online.

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@shipengr nailed it. Around the turn of the century, the SIU had 3 day courses they would sched for the halls. I was at Piney Point for a company meeting and stcw training when they came up with a one day class and tested the next day for the cert.
A year or so later, a friend was a port mechanic under ILA contract. He was needing the cert for reefer container maintenance. He was low in seniority and on the waiting list to attend the 608 class. I gave him my notes from the class. As he was very adept with refer skills, I told him only to study and remember the various treaties, dates, fines, ect. He tested at the local community college a week later and aced the test. He got the reefer gig and lived happily ever after…


If you work for the government agency I think you do and got “written up” you must have been doing something right.
EPA Universal will at least let you work on AC units for a contractor but you cannot buy the gas in most states without a contractors license If you have a recovery machine, vacuum pump, valve core removal tool and a good diagnostic set of gauges like Fieldpiece you may find yourself busier than you want to be.

Is it generally a US thing to require land based qualifications to work on ship’s equipment? I’ve worked both on Netherlands and FoC flag ships and stuff like this was supposed to be part of your STCW licence.

A fair bit of training and certification is required ashore to work on refrigeration systems but any STCW certified engineer is allowed to work on ship based systems. I started out working on old reefer vessels in the dying days of R12 and R22, we had 1.3 tons of R22 in our system (and about 2t on deck in reserve) and I reckon we towed our own hole in the ozone later behind us. Still better than the fishing ships our company owned that had ‘environmentally friendly’ ammonia cooling, quite easy to get killed by a leak.

Similar situation with using cranes and forklifts on board, ashore you need a licence but at sea it all OK no matter how big it is.

The EPA made the rules, they apply to all applications and locations just like the engine emission rules.

The EU also has Regulation (EU) 517-2014 that is closely equivalent and applies to ships as well.

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