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New NFI Exam Format

In an effort to eliminate as much redundancy as possible, NFI undertook a four year project.  The end result makes it easier and less expensive to hold multiple certifications.  It also helps those that stress over taking an exam. And finally, it included the creation of a new certification.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The Hearth Design Specialist manual and exam is designed to give the sales personnel the technical knowledge they need to properly guide the customer.
  • The common knowledge in the old Woodburning, Gas & Pellet manuals and exams has been removed and a new Core Knowledge manual and exam tests the topics that everyone, regardless of what fuel-type you install, should know.
  • To get your first certification, you must pass the Core Knowledge (approx. 60 questions) and the fuel-type exam (approx. 40 questions) of your choice.
  • Subsequent certifications can be added without the need of taking the Core Knowledge again.

For more information or if you have any questions, please call the NFI office at 703-524-8030 or email us at [email protected].

NFI Policy Handbook 04/30/2021


Why is there a need for fireplace/hearth installer credentials?

In two words: public safety. Hearth products, because they involve flame, heat and venting of combustion products, require specialized knowledge for planning and installing. The NFI exams are the only exams that test the knowledge needed to properly plan and install hearth products and their venting systems.

Where is NFI recognized?
NFI Certification is already recognized as the basis for a specially license to install hearth products in a number of state, county and municipal jurisdictions, including the States of Rhode Island, Oklahome, Iowa and New Jersey. There are local regulations in New Castle County, DE, the county of Lawrence, KS, the City of Lincoln, NE, the city of Salina, and Pitkin County, CO.  The US EPA, NYSERDA in New York, and many wood stove change-out programs require NFI Certification to qualify for the financial incentives they offer.

What does NFI certification mean?

NFI Certification identifies those individuals who have passed an exam based on the knowledge needed to properly plan and install hearth products and their venting systems. Certification is regarded as an excellent indication of professional training and commitment.

What are the benefits of being NFI Certified?
Building officials prefer to work with certified contractors who have demonstrated their commitment to professional excellence. Manufacturers prefer qualified installers because they know their products are more likely to be installed correctly . Consumers feel more confident hiring certified specialists because of their experience and knowledge. NFI provides certified specialists with tools to identify and promote themselves, such as wallet ID cards, patches, and decals.
NFI Certified Specialists are also listed here.

How does a hearth professional become NFI certified?

To become certified, a person must pass the multiple choice NFI certified exam(s). A person may become certified in one, two or all three of the specialties by passing the appropriate exams. NFI exams are offered online allowing you to test when it’s convenient for you.  NFI review courses and exams are also sponsored by a number of industry organizations and hearth products manufacturers.

How were NFI exams developed?

NFI contracted with the Personnel Decisions Research Institutes (PDRI), a nationally recognized testing consultancy agency, to direct the process for developing the certification exams. PDRI followed nationally recognized guidelines in the development of the NFI exams. NFI exams are reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure they cover the latest hearth industry trends and topics.

What are the NFI exams based on?

The exams are based on an industry-wide job analysis survey, a formal process that identifies the important knowledge needed to perform the tasks involved in planning and installing hearth products.

How does one maintain certification?

There are two ways to maintain your NFI certification during the three year validation period. The first is to participate in the NFI Continuing Education Program for certification renewal by attending accredited training programs offering Continuing Education Units (CEUs). The number of CEU’s needed for renewal are based on the number of certifications that you hold and are detailed in the Continuing Education section of this website. You will need to obtain the full amount of CEU’s in the proper categories before your NFI Certification expires. The second way to maintain your NFI Certification is to take the exam just prior to the expiration of your certification.


Customers Are Demanding It…

Customers may not be asking for an NFI Certified technician, but when they purchase a hearth product, they are expecting a well trained technician with the knowledge to properly plan and install hearth products and their venting systems.

Being NFI Certified is an excellent selling point to customers by giving them the extra comfort knowing that they are dealing with a technician and a retailer that is not just meeting their expectations, but EXCEEDING them.  It could be the little difference between choosing you or the competition, and in this tough economy every advantage helps!

Manufacturers Recommend It…

Manufacturers in the Hearth Industry also recommend an NFI certified technician install their products. Currently, there are over fifty of these NFI Advocates in the industry.

NFI Certification is recommended by the Environment Protection Agency …

The Environment Protection Agency recommends and in some cases require that consumers choose an NFI Certified specialist when participating in a Stove Changeout Program. This is an excellent selling point to your customers who are becoming more environmental conscious. In professions where safety and protection of the public is involved, NFI certifications also serve as a positive effort to self regulate, thus fending off the possibility of government regulation Certification may preempt the adoption of the outside regulations allowing us to install our industry’s products.

Earn Stature with Local Officials…

Building code officials prefer to work with certified individuals because they know certified professionals have prepared for and passed an industry exam. You and your staff may become trusted experts when builders and officials have questions about the installation and operation of hearth products.

More Efficient Employees…

Certified individuals are more productive using time more efficiently, than non-certified ones due to better job preparation and learning.

Your Insurance Premiums May Be Reduced…

If installation and service are 25% or less of the gross of your business, you may be able to enjoy lower insurance rates.