How to become a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics select components, assemble, install, test, fault-find, service and repair industrial, commercial and domestic refrigeration and air conditioning systems in homes, shops, factories, office buildings, hospitals, supermarkets and cold stores.

Personal requirements of a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

  • Able to work with hand and power tools
  • Enjoy and have an aptitude for technical work
  • Able to work patiently, systematically and thoroughly
  • Normal colour vision
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Good communication skills

Education & Training for a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

To become a refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic you usually have to complete an apprenticeship or traineeship. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require Year 10.

Duties & Tasks of a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics:

  • follow plans and specifications to install, commission, service and maintain equipment
  • drill holes, install mounting brackets and cut, bend and join piping
  • install parts such as compressors, motors, condensers, evaporators, air filters, switches, controls and gauges
  • install and connect piping to refrigeration systems
  • check that parts are installed, lined up and fit properly
  • test systems for leaks and then fill them with refrigerant according to relevant standards and regulations
  • test refrigeration and air handling units and make adjustments to ensure they work correctly
  • use computers to monitor systems and remotely adjust the operation of all equipment in a given building.

Working conditions for a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

When carrying out installation work, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may work on large commercial and industrial units that have to be installed part by part, or pre-assembled units that simply require installation. Domestic units may come already assembled or in two sections between which refrigerant piping must be installed. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may need to be skilled in pipefitting, welding and electrical wiring. They may have to work extended hours to fix breakdowns and carry out emergency repairs. They may work alone or with associated tradespeople such as electricians, pipe fitters and carpenters.

Employment Opportunities for a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics are employed mainly by installation, service maintenance and manufacturing firms that service shops, hotels, factories, offices and hospitals. Some refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work for firms that specialise in cold storage, food treatment plants and refrigeration on ships. With experience, and sometimes further training, promotion is possible to supervisory, sales, technician, associate, technologist or engineer positions. Some refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics are self-employed. Opportunities for refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics are affected by the level of building and refurbishment activity, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,500

Future growth:

Stable

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 0.3%

NSW NSW 33.4%

NT NT 1.7%

QLD QLD 26.3%

SA SA 7.7%

TAS TAS 1.6%

VIC VIC 15.2%

WA WA 13.9%

Hours worked:

43.7

Unemployment:

Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 98.5%

Female 1.5%

Education level:

Not completed Year 12: 6.8%

Highest qualification is secondary school: 25.6%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 62%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 5.6%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 5.6%

20-24 - 11.6%

25-34 - 37.7%

35-44 - 16.1%

45-54 - 20%

55-59 - 4.7%

60-64 - 1.8%

65 and Over - 2.6%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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