Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics install, maintain and repair heating, cooling and refrigeration systems and equipment. They may install ducted air-conditioning in a family home, or build large walk-in refrigeration units for businesses needing mass food storage. They bolt and build units into buildings with brackets, piping, gas and water lines, cabling and wires. Following pre-set specifications, they use motors, pumps, filters, switches and gauges to put together the heating or cooling system that is required for the job.
In Australia, air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are mainly employed by installation service maintenance and manufacturing firms that service shops, hotels and factories. Others can find work with firms that specialise in cold storage, food treatment plants and refrigeration on ships.
Assembles, installs, maintains and repairs industrial, commercial and domestic air-conditioning and refrigeration systems and equipment (registration or licensing may be required).
MA000010 Manufacturing and Associated Industries Award
An air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic needs:
- to enjoy practical work
- technical aptitude
- good hand eye co-ordination
- good fitness, with an ability to lift heavy pieces of equipment
- the ability to follow instructions
- to be precise in their work
Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics work wherever they are required to install heating and cooling systems. These locations can be indoors or outdoors, at factories, industrial plants, restaurants, licensed premises, offices, private dwellings or construction sites. Their work environments can often be cramped, noisy, dirty or humid. Sometimes, they may have to work at heights. They usually work normal business hours, but may be required to be on call, day or night, to conduct emergency repairs.
On average, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics can expect to make between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 per year), depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.
Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics use drills, spanners, screwdrivers, hammers, welding equipment, pumps and grinders to install and repair heating and cooling units. Since their working environment can sometimes be hazardous, they are often required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which may include bright and reflective safety gear, hard hats, earmuffs, goggles, masks and enclosed steel-capped boots.
To become an air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic – engineering trade apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.
To work with refrigerant chemicals in Australia, you must apply for a refrigerant handling licence from the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC). Contact ARC for more information.
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school’s VET
Coordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.