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Making a Career in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Making a career in refrigeration and air conditioning is a specialist role that varies from keeping people comfortable in shopping centres and theatres to storing blood at the right temperature for life saving operations. Refrigeration and air conditioning specialists play a crucial part in people’s lives.
It is a highly skilled, technical industry that needs dedicated and enthusiastic people to look after all the systems we take for granted, but also to ensure green measures and energy efficiencies are being used.
The career paths follow two routes:

A refrigeration engineer installs, services and maintains refrigeration systems in places like supermarkets, hospitals, food processing plants and research establishments.

An air conditioning engineer installs services and maintains the systems that control and maintain the air quality, temperature, and humidity inside offices, schools, leisure complexes and other modern buildings.

Depending on the speciality, work may take place on construction sites and may mean working in cramped and uncomfortable conditions in order to access the air conditioning and refrigeration units on scaffolding or on the roof of a building.
Usually an engineer is based locally and travels from one project to another. It is quite possible to need to work away from home nationally or internationally.

Entry Requirements

Depending on the level someone wants to work at, a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 or 3, or Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at Level 2 and 3 is required. There is also other training on top of the NVQ/SVQ that will need to be completed in order to become fully qualified.
Most people start as an apprentice straight from school or college and train on the job. Apprenticeships give you the underpinning knowledge and skills you need to work effectively and professionally.

There will be training, at college or a training centre, and on-the-job training, where practical skills are honed while working on-site for your employer. Generally, training will take between two and four years to complete, depending on the apprenticeship scheme.

For mature students, the NVQ/SVQ route can be taken without doing an apprenticeship. To gain an NVQ/SVQ, you must be in employment or have the ability to be assessed on site, carrying out work on real installations. Similar to an apprenticeship scheme, you should be prepared to gain the qualification over a number of years. It usually takes around four years to gain the right qualifications.
More information about these careers can be found on the websites for the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, the Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB). We would also be glad to have a friendly chat with any students who are thinking of entering the industry

Posted in: Latest News - On: 11th of April, 2012