Essential Skills
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Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics' work includes installing, maintaining, repairing and overhauling central air conditioning systems.

Careers in Skilled Trades: 
Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

  • Do you like working with machines?
  • Are you strong and well-coordinated?
  • Are you self-reliant?
  • Do you enjoy dealing with customers?
  • Are you good at problem solving?
  • Do you crave variety on the job?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic could be right for you.

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics install, maintain, repair and overhaul residential central air conditioning systems, commercial and industrial refrigeration and air conditioning systems, and combined heating, ventilation and cooling systems.

They are employed by installation contractors, construction companies, food wholesalers, engineering firms and service establishments.


As a Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic, your duties may include:

  • Installing, troubleshooting and overhauling entire heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems
  • Measuring refrigeration or air conditioning components for installation
  • Working with hand and power tools to install refrigeration or air conditioning components
  • Measuring and cutting piping, and connecting piping using welding equipment
  • Testing heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems for leaks
  • Performing routine maintenance
  • Repairing and replacing components for entire heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems
  • Installing, maintaining and repairing equipment in refrigerated trucks
  • Preparing work estimates
  • Reading and interpreting blueprints

Work Conditions

The standard work week for refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.

As a Refrigeration/Air Conditioning Mechanic, your work conditions may vary from one project to another. You may work indoors or outdoors, alone or with a team of construction professionals.

As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics are trained to work safely and wear special equipment to protect against injury.

Training and Certification

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.

Info compiled from Careers in Construction

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