Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics (NOC 7313)

About this job

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. Transport refrigeration mechanics are included in this group.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work for refrigeration and air conditioning installation contractors, various industrial enterprises, food wholesalers, engineering firms and retail and servicing establishments
  • may be self-employed
  • need to have a good understanding of mechanical and electrical systems and should be familiar with several types of machinery, from electronics to fluid pumps
  • need to be independent, skilled at troubleshooting problems and have the ability to lift heavy objects
  • communication skills are important, particularly when working with customers
Common job titles
  • hydronics technician
  • installer-repairer-servicer, central a / c
  • mechanic, a / c / heating / refrigeration
  • mechanic, HVAC (heating, ventilation, a / c)
  • mechanic, journeyman / journeywoman
  • mechanic, transport refrigeration
  • hydronics technician
  • installer-repairer-servicer, central a / c
  • mechanic, a / c / heating / refrigeration
  • mechanic, HVAC (heating, ventilation, a / c)
  • mechanic, journeyman / journeywoman
  • mechanic, transport refrigeration

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$83,424

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics perform some or all of the following duties:

  • read and interpret blueprints, drawings or other specifications
  • measure and lay out reference points for installation
  • assemble and install refrigeration or air conditioning components such as motors, controls, gauges, valves, circulating pumps, condensers, humidifiers, evaporators and compressors using hand and power tools
  • measure and cut piping, and connect piping using welding and brazing equipment
  • install, troubleshoot and overhaul entire heating, ventilation, air handling, refrigeration and air conditioning systems
  • start up system and test for leaks using testing devices
  • recharge system with refrigerant, check and test regulators, calibrate system and perform routine maintenance or servicing
  • repair and replace parts and components for entire refrigeration, air conditioning, ventilation or heat pump systems
  • may install, maintain and repair equipment in refrigerated trucks used to transport food or medical supplies
  • may prepare work estimates for clients, as well as completing work orders, inspection sheets and other paperwork

Work environment

The majority of refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work 40 hours per week. However, overtime and on-call work is commonly required to complete a project or to repair malfunctioning critical equipment (e.g., freezers containing perishable items) immediately.

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics often work indoors. They may work in buildings under construction or in warehouses, office towers, hospitals, schools or stores. Outside work may also be required, so workers may be exposed to various weather conditions.

Work in awkward or cramped positions and at heights is common. Hazards may include injuries from handling heavy equipment or from electrical shock. Safety procedures are followed, particularly when handling potentially harmful refrigerants.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

Completion of secondary school and a valid driver's licence is usually required to work in this field. In British Columbia, all refrigeration mechanics must:

  • have a certificate of qualification issued by the Industry Training Authority as well as a Class B gas fitter licence
  • complete a five-year apprenticeship program (or a combination of more than five years work experience in the trade and some college or industry courses)
  • find a sponsor employer who is willing to participate in the apprenticeship program

This occupation is eligible for Interprovincial Standard Endorsement (Red Seal) qualification through the Industry Training Authority. This allows refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics to work in any province or territory. Once individuals pass the final examination of their accredited training program, they will achieve certification and will automatically receive Red Seal qualification.

Workers with 10,830 hours of documented, directly related work experience can challenge the Interprovincial Red Seal examination.

For more information, please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

As of July 1, 2017 when the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force, you will not need significant additional training, experience, testing or assessment if your qualifications or certificates are recognized by a Canadian regulatory authority. This applies whether you were trained in Canada or internationally. Learn about labour mobility at www.workersmobility.ca. For information about labour mobility and foreign qualifications recognition, contact the B.C. regulator for your occupation.

Skills

  • Methodical
  • General Learning Ability
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Motor Coordination
  • Numerical Ability
  • Verbal & Written Comprehension
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Heavy Mechanical Repair

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Trades training resources

Visit our trades training page at www.workbc.ca/trades to learn about apprenticeship and trades training in B.C.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
60
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
50
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
2,060
Average annual employment growth:
0.6%
Expected number of job openings:
670
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
0
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
40
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
250
Average annual employment growth:
2.3%
Expected number of job openings:
120
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
520
Average annual employment growth:
1.1%
Expected number of job openings:
220

N/A - Data not available

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

The majority of job openings will come from the need to replace those who retire.

The Construction industry, the largest employer of refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, has been experiencing a very strong demand for workers in both residential and non-residential sectors. Government funding for capital projects could also be an important source of construction work. Industry sources report that there is an over-abundance of people trying to enter the industry with only pre-apprenticeship training or no prior experience at all.

Renewed concern for energy conservation should result in the development of new energy-saving heating and air conditioning systems. An emphasis on better energy management and environmentally safe refrigerants will likely lead to older systems in existing homes and buildings being replaced with more efficient systems. These activities will create a demand for refrigeration and air conditioning services.

The increasing use of technology in refrigeration and air conditioning, such as sophisticated control systems, as well as new forms of refrigerants, requires mechanics to be up to date with the latest systems and developments. Workers with current technological knowledge will have more work opportunities.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

This is a medium-sized occupational group with an above average number of full-time workers year round. More facts:

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics may begin their careers as shop hands or in entry-level positions, or they may begin as apprentices.

With experience, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics can advance to supervisory positions or start their own businesses.

Additional resources