Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 40% of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for refrigeration/air conditioning mechanic apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must be at least 16 years old and have a Grade 12 education or equivalent to enter the program. You may find it helpful to have courses in math.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic.
Certification is required in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and available but voluntary in all other provinces and the territories. Even in regions where certification is voluntary, it is always recommended as it tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional, and it also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as a Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic, you usually need to complete a three-to four-year apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
You may be eligible for certification in some provinces and territories if you have more than five years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses in refrigeration/air conditioning.
As a certified Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic, you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with others in their field.