Becoming an Industrial Refrigeration Technician
|Education||Programs available at trade schools|
|License and Certification||Requirements vary; credential available through the Environmental Protection Agency|
|Job Skills||Troubleshooting, problem solving, knowledge of refrigeration systems and equipment|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$45,110 (for HVAC mechanics and installers)|
|Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14% (for HVAC mechanics and installers)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Industrial refrigeration technicians install, service, and repair refrigeration systems and equipment such as condensing units, compressors, and evaporators. Some duties of the job include connecting refrigeration lines and electrical power sources, handling hazardous refrigerant substances, and checking systems and equipment for leaks. Technicians will often use system blueprints or manufacturers' instructions to complete a job.
Education, Licensing, Certification, and Skills
Consider a 6-month to 2-year program at a technical trade school to learn about industrial refrigeration. Although this type of schooling is not required, it is very attractive to employers because of the up-to-date technical learning and skills a student receives about modern refrigeration systems. Coursework in a technical trade school will include courses in safety practices, refrigeration and cooling system design, and courses that are heavy in math and reading.
Licensing and Certification
Some state and local governments require heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers to have a license; the requirements can vary. For those mechanics and installers who work with refrigerants, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires a special license, either in small appliances, high-pressure refrigerants, or low-pressure refrigerants. Industrial refrigeration technicians may also obtain voluntary professional certifications.
Troubleshooting and problem solving skills are a must in this career. Additionally, self-sufficiency, accuracy, technical skills, and extensive knowledge of refrigeration systems and equipment are requirements for the job.
Career and Economic Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $45,110 in May 2015. As field experience increases, earning potential can increase. Employment opportunities are best in parts of the country that are experiencing population growth. This means more construction of new homes, apartments, and businesses that will require installation and continued service repairs on refrigeration systems and equipment. The BLS reports that jobs in this field are predicted to increase 14% from 2014-2024.
Alternative Career Options
Plumbers install, maintain, and repair pipes that carry liquids or gasses in residential or commercial structures according to relevant blueprints and federal, state, and local regulations. Plumbers are typically required to have a high school diploma and either technical school training or an apprenticeship followed by additional on-the-job training. Plumbers are also usually required to hold a license. The BLS reports that the number of jobs for plumbers is predicted to grow 12% from 2014-2024 and that plumbers earned a median salary of $50,620 in 2015.
An electrician is responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of commercial and residential wiring systems and associated parts (like lighting) that carry electricity. Electricians work off of blueprints and in accordance with the National Electric Code, as well as relevant federal, state or local regulations. A technical school program or apprenticeship can prepare aspiring electricians for employment. Licensing is required, but requirements can vary by state. Employment of electricians is expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, while working electricians earned median salaries of $51,880 in 2015.
A refrigeration technician does not need to go to school, but a 6-month to 2-year school program will assist the aspiring technician at getting certified and hired by more prospective employers.