As a student getting started in HVACR training, you study the principles of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration. When you enter the field, you may choose to focus on one area. See what could be in store for you if you choose to become a refrigeration technician.
What Does a Refrigeration Technician Do?
To understand what a refrigeration technician does, it might help to know how refrigeration is different from the other type of cooling typically used in HVAC: air conditioning.
Refrigeration vs. Air Conditioning: When the unit’s temperature settings are above 60° F, air conditioning is used, and when below 60 °F, refrigeration. 1 A residential refrigerator, for example, operates at 40° F and a freezer at 0° F. 2 As a refrigeration technician, you could expect to work on refrigerators and freezers.
Where You Might Work: Refrigeration technicians are similar to HVAC technicians, you could visit homes and businesses to install, repair, or maintain refrigeration equipment. When troubleshooting a broken unit, you might use pneumatic, electrical, and mechanical examination tools. Components you’ll likely find yourself frequently repairing or replacing include cooling lines, evaporators, and pipes, as well as motors, compressors, and condensing units. 3
What Type of Refrigeration Technician Jobs Are There?
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You’re probably familiar with the kind of refrigerators found in homes, but there are other types of systems you could work on as a refrigeration technician.
Commercial: Commercial refrigeration units are typically much larger than residential ones and can be found in retail stores, groceries, and restaurants. Examples include walk-in refrigerators; deli, bakery, and produce cases; and stand-alone retail refrigeration units.
Industrial: Industrial refrigeration systems can be much larger than commercial ones. Some weigh 100 tons or more! These mega-sized refrigerators are usually found in chemical, petrochemical, and pharmaceutical plants; breweries, wineries, soda factories; and meat, produce, or dairy processing facilities. 4
How to Become a Refrigeration Technician
If you’re interested in becoming a refrigeration technician, you might want to consider enrolling in an HVACR program at a vocational training school. This is a common path to a career for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that employers tend to prefer applicants with formal HVACR training.
You’ll need Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certification to work with refrigerants. Once you’ve gained some experience in the field, you can take specialized exams to become certified to work with specific types of equipment. For example, the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association offers entry-level certifications to work with industrial refrigeration systems. 5
Refrigeration Technician Job Prospects
Now you know where you could work as a refrigeration technician, but how good are the job prospects for this profession? Excellent! That’s according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which notes technicians who’ve received training at a trade school should have the greatest career opportunities. 6 Once you complete your HVACR program, you could be well on your way to this promising career.
1 – Title: Fundamentals of HVAC; Authors: Carter Stanfield and David Skaves; Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute; Second Edition; Textbook page 4
2 – http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm093704.htm
3 – http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-refrigeration-technician.htm
4 – http://actonenergy.com/portals/0/business/forms/Industrial-Refrigeration-Handout.pdf
5 – http://stats.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-4
6 – http://stats.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/heating-air-conditioning-and-refrigeration-mechanics-and-installers.htm#tab-6