HVAC Refrigeration Technician

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Refrigeration systems make it easy for us to store food, medicines, and other perishable goods.

It prevents spoilage of these goods, making it an investment well-spent.

To ensure that these systems are well-maintained and operational, HVAC refrigeration (HVAC/R) technicians are always on-call.

They install, maintain, and troubleshoot the systems for residential and commercial sectors.

Like HVAC technicians, they also work on climate control systems.

However, their primary focus is on commercial refrigeration systems for food storage, transportation, and other industrial purposes.

To learn more about this career, check out the comprehensive information below.

Responsibilities of an HVAC Refrigeration Technician

When working on a refrigeration system, an HVAC/R technician must ensure two things:

  • Keep food and other perishable goods cold and fresh
  • Properly remove, store, purify, and reuse refrigerant chemicals to keep greenhouse gasses in check

And so, a highly-qualified HVAC/R technician must install, repair, and maintain these systems with the least amount of downtime.

As an aspiring HVAC/R technician, the tasks you’ll shoulder include the following:

  • Install, observe, and test new refrigeration systems
  • Check existing systems and troubleshoot issues and/or replace damages
  • Good mechanical and troubleshooting skills
  • Read and interpret blueprints and compliance schematics
  • Contact clients to confirm their needs, repair costs, and alternative cooling options

Qualifications for an HVAC Refrigeration Technician

For you to become an HVAC/R technician, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Holds a high school diploma or GED
  • Has work experience as an HVAC/R technician
  • Has an HVAC certification
  • Advanced knowledge of HVAC and refrigeration systems
  • Proficiency in math, physics, and electrical systems
  • Ability to read and interpret blueprints
  • Knowledgeable of local building codes
  • Strong physical stamina
  • Capable of working in extreme working and weather conditions

Note that employers may have additional job requirements for their HVAC/R technicians.

So, be sure that you possess those qualifications before submitting an application.

Career Outlook and Prospects for HVAC Refrigeration Technicians

Now’s the time to enter the HVAC/R industry.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2021), the employment level will have a 5% projected growth from 2020 to 2030.

What’s more, the economic situation doesn’t influence the demand for HVAC/R technicians.

That’s because this career is a heavily technical skills profession that can’t be automated or outsourced.

So employers from various sectors will always hire them for construction and renovation projects:

  • Commercial businesses, particularly the food industry
  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Households

Potential Salary of an HVAC Refrigeration Technician

Many skills-proficient individuals choose to enter the HVAC industry due to its…

  • Work stability, where their talents can’t be outsourced or taken over by AI
  • Career opportunities, where they can advance to higher positions or operate their own business
  • Competitive salary, where they can get more pay as they accumulate expertise and experience

Below, you’ll find the average salary of an HVAC/R technician based on their experience level.

Experience LevelYears of ExperienceHourly Pay
Entry-levelLess than 1 year$18.36
Early career1 to 4 years$20.72
Mid-career5 to 9 years$24.64
Late career10 to 19 years$27.98
Experienced20 years and above$29.96

Salary information retrieved from Payscale as of July 2022

Steps to Becoming an HVAC Refrigeration Technician

In becoming an HVAC/R technician, you can follow these steps:

Step 1 – Obtain a High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

You don’t need a college degree for this career; postsecondary non-degree education is enough.

And for you to get admitted there, you need a high school diploma or GED equivalent.

It would help if you had this because the HVAC/R program wants students knowledgeable in math and sciences.

Step 2 – Receive the Appropriate Training and Education

You have two options:

Option 1: Enroll in an HVAC/R program

Trade schools and vocational colleges offer HVAC/R programs to interested students.

Here, you’ll learn the theoretical fundamentals and practice the technical skills needed for the job.

Courses include:

  • HVAC math
  • Electrical systems
  • Refrigeration systems

It takes 6 to 12 months to complete, and you can earn a certificate or an associate’s degree upon completion.

Option 2: Apply for an Apprenticeship

Many aspirants go for an apprenticeship program so they can directly learn real-life skills from the master.

Aside from that, you can earn a salary even as an apprentice.

Usually, private companies and unions will sponsor the 2- to 5-year apprenticeship program.

Step 3 – Earn an HVAC/R Certification

Before you can work, you must ensure you hold an HVAC/R certification.

EPA Section 608 Technician Certification

This is a mandatory national certification for all technicians working with refrigerants.

Obtaining this assures the employers and clients that you have the capabilities to properly handle its hazardous components.

Some HVAC/R programs include this certification in their curriculum, so check with your school if they do.

State or Local HVAC/R License

Many states and their localities require HVAC/R technicians to have a license before they can work.

So make sure to inquire if your state or locality will require you to have a state- or local-level licensing.

Additional Certification

With advanced certification, HVAC/R technicians can have broader work opportunities.

Specialized certificates are available through various organizations such as NATE and HVAC Excellence.

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