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Occupational Profile
Apprenticeship

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics install, maintain, repair and overhaul industrial, commercial and residential refrigeration and air conditioning systems and their component parts.

Related Video(s)
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic (5:10)

  • Avg. Salary $82,498.00
  • Avg. Wage $38.21
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 3,300
  • In Demand Lower
Also Known As

Air Conditioning Mechanic, Mechanic, Service Technician

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

66%
66%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics
NOC code: 7313
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to measure and cut piping and to measure and lay out reference points for installation

METHODICAL

Interest in recharging systems with refrigerant, checking and testing regulators and calibrating systems; and in performing routine maintenance and servicing

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to repair and replace parts and components for entire refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation and heat-pump systems; and in installing, troubleshooting and overhauling entire heating, ventilation, air handling, refrigeration and air conditioning systems

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation. 

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 15, 2016

At installation sites, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics:

  • work from blueprints or verbal instructions to mount or place system components
  • assemble and install refrigeration or air conditioning components such as compressors, condensers, evaporators and metering devices
  • install and calibrate related controls (including wiring)
  • start up and commission systems, test lines to detect and repair leaks and record the readings taken to ensure that the system is functioning satisfactorily.

Maintenance work involves:

  • checking all components of a system and assess system operation
  • lubricating moving parts
  • monitoring refrigerant charge.

When there is a malfunction, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics diagnose the problem and fix the unit by replacing or repairing controls, electric wiring or other parts.

Mechanics also repair heating equipment, troubleshoot gas-fired equipment and calibrate gas-related controls.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 15, 2016

The working environment varies greatly from one job to another. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work in compressor rooms and on roof tops as well as in clean computer rooms. They normally work 40 hours a week on a year round basis. 

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may be required to lift and move items that weigh over 25 kilograms. There is some risk of injury when working with electricity, gases under high pressure, hazardous gases.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics need the following characteristics:

  • mechanical ability and interest
  • good coordination and manual dexterity
  • physical strength and stamina
  • the ability to work well with co-workers and deal with customers
  • the ability to drive a service truck to worksites.

They should enjoy variety, solving problems and working with little supervision.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

To work in Alberta, a refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 30-2, Math 30-3, Physics 20 or Chemistry 20, or equivalent, or pass the entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire graduates of post-secondary technical programs, high school graduates who have good marks and an aptitude for science and mechanics, or people who have journeyman certification in other trades. 

The term of apprenticeship is 4 years (four 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year. High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 15, 2016

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics usually work for companies that install and service air-conditioning and refrigeration systems. Some are self-employed.

Experienced refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may advance to supervisory positions. Alberta certified journeyperson refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

In Alberta, 79% of people employed as refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,300 Albertans are employed in the Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 20 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. 

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $30 to $45 an hour plus benefits (2014 estimates). Apprentice refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics earn 50% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 60% in the second, 75% in the third and 85% in the fourth.

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
NOC code: 7313

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $18.00 $46.00 $29.52 $30.00
Overall $30.00 $47.00 $38.21 $37.34
Top $34.00 $49.00 $42.98 $44.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Construction
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

66%
66%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

56%
56%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

26%
26%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Electro-Technologies
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 15, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: www.tradesecrets.gov.ab.ca

BuildForce Canada website: www.buildforce.ca

Calgary Construction Association website: www.cca.cc

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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