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There are so many types of technology in our life nowadays, and some of them we take for granted.
While we face some inconvenience when our Internet goes down, it can be even more troublesome if the appliances break.
Think, for example, of all the problems you would face if your refrigerator broke.
We don’t usually think of it, but it can bring a lot of discomfort.
The products would all spoil leading to just a whole lot of waste of money.
Refrigerators aren’t only significant for a household.
They are widely used in commercial and industrial structures.
So if the refrigerator stops working, it can cost a fortune and even slow down the work of the businesses.
A refrigeration tech is a professional who can troubleshoot the issues with residential, commercial, and industrial refrigeration systems.
Whether it happens in the houses, stores, hospitals, offices, they can provide repair and maintenance services.
HVAC refrigeration technicians have the necessary skills and training fixing various defects in the refrigerator.
The refrigeration techs are usually educated in HVAC systems.
They can also work on residential climate control systems.
But the primary focus of their work involves commercial refrigeration systems for food storage, industrial purposes, transportation, and more.
Below, we gathered useful information about the HVAC refrigeration tech career, salary data, and how to become one.
Keep reading to find out more.
Responsibilities of HVAC Refrigeration Technician
A refrigeration technician is a professional HVAC tech whose main area of expertise is refrigeration systems.
In other words, their everyday work includes solely those systems that keep the storage facilities, buildings, depots, trucks, etc., cool.
Depending on the position of the technician, they can deal with building new systems or maintaining the existing ones.
HVAC refrigeration techs who build new refrigeration systems can work on construction sites and renovation projects.
There are various options for HVAC refrigeration technicians.
They can be employed by a particular company, e.g., grocery stores, or refrigerated depots.
However, more often they choose to work as independent contractors visiting various work sites.
Since a refrigerator that’s not operating can cause waste and spoilage, techs can be on call during the night hours.
Surely, the night hours are paid as overtime, which is a pleasant perk for the technicians.
Now the time is favorable to enter the HVAC refrigeration area.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that HVAC refrigeration technicians are expected to be in demand by 15% more from 2016 to 2026.
It is twice as much compared to the other occupations, the percentage of which is only 7%.
The economic situation doesn’t influence the field of HVAC refrigeration technicians.
This is because regardless of the losses in profits of a company, there is no alternative to refrigeration to keep the goods cool.
The situation is the same for residential clients and even hospitals.
The refrigeration systems are a necessity, so those who choose this career will never be out of business.
With the growing demand for the HVAC refrigeration techs, it’s easy to determine which companies hire technicians the most.
Stores, from local specialized stores to large chains of the grocery stores, usually have at least one technician on staff.
Also, food companies that deal with the storage and transportation of the goods always hire refrigeration technicians to deal with various issues.
They can work in the warehouses or maintaining and repairing the mobile units.
The construction industry also looks promising.
All these factors indicate that the career path for the HVAC refrigeration techs looks good now.
Job Requirements of the HVAC Refrigeration Technician
The HVAC refrigeration area has various jobs.
So the required education and experience can differ from one job to another.
According to the recent data of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 22% of refrigeration technicians have some college education.
12% of the are employees have an associate’s degree while 56% hold a post-secondary certificate.
They don’t have a degree though.
The experts with extended education are favored by employers more.
However, practical experience is extremely essential as well.
For this reason, many new technicians decide to enroll in an apprenticeship program.
The apprenticeship can be the first step into the career.
Refrigeration tech apprenticeship programs are offered in various community colleges as a part of the training.
Besides, the unions that work with HVAC technicians and pipefitters also offer apprenticeship.
The union programs don’t require a specialized college education.
However, it can be hard to enroll in the program if the techs didn’t have a previous connection with the union.
The technicians that hold a bachelor’s degree or higher can be considered for supervisory positions.
Although, it is not guaranteed for everyone.
HVAC refrigeration technicians can have any education.
But they are required to be proficient in math, basic physics, and electrical systems.
Salary Information of HVAC Refrigeration Techs
Many people choose the career of HVAC refrigeration technicians because of stable work and the opportunity to grow their own businesses.
Another significant factor is, of course, the offered salary.
The wages vary from state to state and depend on the experience of the technician.
As of 2017, the average salary of an HVAC refrigeration tech was $49,530 annually.
Hourly it comes up to the rate of $23.81.
Their salary can also depend on the location, as the cost of living in every state greatly differs.
Washington, D.C., offers a higher median salary for HVAC refrigeration techs with the average payment per year of $60,000.
On the other hand, such states as West Virginia have a lower cost of living.
So the salaries are lower as well.
In WV, a refrigeration technician can make as much as $40,520 annually.
This salary information is applicable for all refrigeration technicians who work in the US, including entry-level and experienced.
With more experience, a refrigeration technician can expect their wages to rise.
How to Become an HVAC Refrigeration Tech
The steps to the successful career as an HVAC refrigeration technician can vary, but some of them are common for different paths.
Below, one of the most common routes is represented:
- A high school diploma or similar document.
The educational requirements for a refrigeration technician aren’t strict.
However, as stated previously, the majority of the technicians have some post-secondary education or a degree.
For those, a high school diploma or equivalent (such as GED) are necessary.
Students should focus on math courses and can take some vocational HVAC programs if they are available.
- Option 1: A degree or certificate program (6 months to 2 years).
Upon graduation from high school, many aspiring HVAC refrigeration techs take a post-secondary education.
After completing the courses, they can obtain either an associate’s degree or a certificate.
Some schools, for example, offer an Associate of Applied Science degree in AC and refrigeration systems.
A certification program is also available.
All programs include math, electrical systems, and the basics of refrigeration systems.
- Option 2: Apply for Apprenticeship (2-5 years).
Many HVAC refrigeration techs choose the apprenticeship programs as the initial step into the career.
Apprentices earn a percentage of their supervisory technician salary.
At regular periods, they receive raises provided their work is satisfactory.
If the apprenticeship program is associated with a union, they receive payment as per union’s conditions.
After the apprenticeship program, they are eligible for minimum starting wages.
- EPA Section 608 Certification.
This certification is mandatory for all technicians working with potentially hazardous refrigerants.
It can be included in the training program.
Regardless, all the prospective techs should complete this certification before they start to work.
- Obtain a state or local license.
Not every state requires refrigeration technicians to have a license, but in some states or regions, it can be an obligatory condition to work.
- Further certification.
With advanced certification, HVAC refrigeration techs have broader work opportunities.
Specialized certificates are available through various organizations such as HVAC Excellence.
Certificates and License
While Section 608 certification is obligatory around the US, other certificates or licenses aren’t required.
The licensure can vary depending on a state or region.
Some states have organizations that hold examinations and provide licenses to technicians from different areas.
These licenses may be obligatory for all HVAC technicians or only for those who deal with refrigeration systems of a particular size.
It is essential for everyone entering the HVAC field to study the legal regulation of the area where they reside for refrigeration techs.
It will help avoid unnecessary fines and stay on the right side of the law.