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Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician Profile

Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Refrigeration or air-conditioning technicians, sometimes known as building services technicians, are responsible for designing and installing units for controlling temperature, humidity and air quality. They also maintain these units.

Work involves installation and maintenance of systems in domestic, retail, office or industrial environments. Refrigeration work covers sectors such as the food production, transport, storage and distribution services, and hospital medical services.

Technicians duties include:

  • undertaking initial surveys of proposed or existing buildings or facilities
  • producing drawings and estimates, usually by computer-aided design
  • project work, organising the craftspeople, materials and installation
  • supervising work through to completion.
  • In most cases technicians work as part of a team. For a major project, the team might be under the direction of a qualified engineer, but smaller projects may be supervised by technicians.


Hours and Environment

Technicians work a 38-hour week, but this would be flexible depending on the type of work and deadlines. Overtime may be available.

A designer or project controller would normally work in an office environment, either at a head office or on-site.

Maintenance or installation technicians may have to move from job to job, and can be based anywhere in the UK or overseas for many months at a time. A driving licence is helpful.

Skills and Interests

As a refrigeration or air-conditioning technician, you should:

  • have a good knowledge of physics and chemistry
  • be interested in electrical and electronic equipment
  • have good maths skills for technical calculations and costing
  • have good spoken communication skills
  • be able to explain technical matters in clear terms
  • be able to read technical drawings, cabling plans and basic circuit diagrams
  • have a polite, pleasant manner
  • have normal colour vision
  • be aware of health and safety issues.


Entry

A common entry route for young people is to train as a technician apprentice, through Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships. Most apprentices come in at 16 to 18, but entry is possible up to 24. You will need four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3), including maths and science or technology, or an appropriate Intermediate GNVQ/GSVQ level II or equivalent.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority
An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses. If experienced in a related field, you may be able to gain recognition of skills through Accredited Prior Learning (APL). Please check with colleges or universities for exact entry requirements.

You can prepare for the career by taking a BTEC National Certificate/Diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award in Building Services Engineering which covers refrigeration and air conditioning.

A City & Guilds Basic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning (1511) may also be suitable.
An adult working as a craftsperson specialising in refrigeration or air-conditioning may become a technician by studying part-time for a relevant BTEC national certificate or diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award, or by doing an NVQ/SVQ level 3.

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers' website contains a database of colleges offering the BTEC qualifications. The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board has details of entry and training for this sector. There is also information on the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association website about this career together with free careers publications for the building services engineering sector. See sites below.

Training

As a trainee technician you would normally work towards NVQ/SVQ levels 2 and 3 in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning. Your training will be a mixture of practical work and college work.

You would be expected to develop your knowledge and skills within the role by undertaking further short-course training in areas such as safe handling of refrigerants.

You can move onto higher level courses including BTEC HNC/HND Building Services Engineering (refrigeration and air conditioning). These are available at colleges throughout the country.

As a technician you can work towards the qualification EngTech. To achieve this you must register formally with The Engineering Council as an engineering technician, and you will need:

  • an appropriate qualification such as an NVQ/SVQ level 3, BTEC national certificate or diploma, or an SQA national certificate group award
  • at least three years responsible work experience, including suitable further training and development
  • to be aged 21 or over
  • to be a member of the relevant professional institution
  • to take a final test called a professional review.


The Institute of Refrigeration has various membership grades from student level onwards. Membership allows access to a variety of workshops and training courses run by the Institute.
Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).

Opportunities

Air-conditioning is an expanding industry worldwide. Rapid economic development overseas means there are many opportunities to work abroad.

Technicians can specialise in particular areas such as transport refrigeration and with further training, they can progress into supervisory management positions.

Annual Income

This section is intended as a guideline only.

New technicians start at around £12,000 a year.
Experienced technicians average about £20,000 a year.
Senior technicians with supervisory responsibilities may earn over £25,000 a year.

Further information

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB)
76 Mill Lane
Carshalton
Surrey
SM5 2JR
Tel: 020 8647 7033
www.acrib.org.uk

The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
222 Balham High Road
Balham
London
SW12 9BS
Tel: 020 8675 5211
www.cibse.org

Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association (HVCA)
ESCA House
34 Palace Court
London
W2 4JG
www.hvca.org.uk

Institute of Refrigeration
Kelvin House
76 Mill Lane
Carshalton
Surrey
SM5 2JR
www.ior.org.uk

Other Useful Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Refrigeration Air Conditioning Technician job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

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