Refrigeration mechanics specialize in installing and repairing refrigeration systems in commercial buildings, residential homes and health facilities. Many refrigeration mechanics complete formal HVAC technology programs to enter this field, and they may also need to earn licensure depending on their state.
A refrigeration mechanic installs, repairs and maintains refrigeration systems. In some cases, heating, ventilation and air conditioning technicians also work with refrigeration and are called HVACR mechanics or technicians. Refrigeration mechanics and HVACR technicians are typically required to complete a technical training program or apprenticeship. Some states require refrigeration mechanics to be licensed.
|Required Education||Postsecondary training or apprenticeship|
|Other Requirements||Licensure required in some states; EPA certification required|
|Projected Job Growth*||14% between 2014 and 2024 for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$45,110 for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Refrigeration Mechanic Salary Information
The median annual salary of a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic and installer in the United States in May 2015 was $45,110, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that most professionals in this field were paid between $27,790 and $71,690 annually.
Job Duties of a Refrigeration Mechanic
A refrigeration mechanic is chiefly responsible for the maintenance and repair of refrigeration systems in commercial buildings, residential homes and health facilities. This type of work involves the use of special equipment and tools to install the refrigeration system, as well as its peripherals, following manufacturer instructions and blueprints. Refrigerator components must be connected to power sources, ducts and refrigerant lines. After installing these components, the refrigerator mechanic tests the unit to ensure that it is functioning properly. Mechanics are dispatched from a central location and assigned to job sites.
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Requirements of a Refrigeration Mechanic
Employers often require refrigeration mechanics to complete a technical training program. The academic and curriculum standards for these programs are monitored by accrediting agencies, such as the Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation. Trade schools and community colleges typically offer programs in refrigeration that take between six months and two years to complete.
Apprenticeship programs are also available to those with a high school diploma or its equivalent, and take between 3-5 years to complete. Apprentices work as assistants to experienced technicians, gaining on-the-job experience, while participating in traditional classroom learning. Coursework may include safety practices and an overview of the design of refrigeration systems.
Licensure and Certification Requirements
Most states require refrigeration mechanics to pass a written exam to obtain a state-issued license. Some states require HVACR mechanics to complete an apprenticeship program or have 2-5 years of experience in the field before obtaining a license.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that anyone purchasing or handling refrigerants become certified through an EPA-approved certification program. Three levels of EPA certification can be earned by passing a written exam.
While refrigeration mechanics may have a certificate or associate's degree in HVAC technology, they may decide to complete a three- to five-year apprenticeship to prepare for the trade. The job market is expected to grow 14% for these professionals between 2014 and 2024, and those who find a position may earn a median salary of $45,110 per year.