An air conditioning and refrigeration technician installs and repairs air conditioners, heaters and refrigerators in residences and business. Air conditioning and refrigeration workers are often referred to as HVAC or HVACR technicians. They monitor and fix various aspects of such household appliances with tools specific to the trade, and often need to install attachments, such as hoses or electrical wiring.
Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians possess a thorough knowledge of the inner workings of heating and cooling units, as well as refrigerators and freezers. That includes wiring, motors, pumps, switches, lights, fans and thermostats. They use equipment that tests levels of gas, water and other elements needed to ensure proper function. They also spend much of their time on the road, traveling to job sites. Occasionally, they will have to suddenly drop one task and head to another site, where an emergency repair is needed--such as when a company's air conditioning unit malfunctions during a hot summer month.
An air conditioning and refrigeration technician clearly needs to know how each unit operates inside and out. But he also must be analytical and a strong communicator, since he needs to be able to prevent and diagnose issues, as well as explain his discoveries to a customer. Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians often have to lift and move heavy units and should have strength and stamina.
Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians often learn on the job, or sometimes, before they ever even take their first job. Most employers prefer candidates with at least a high school diploma or the equivalent when hiring a technician. At the very least, a technician should be able to display a passion for the job, a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic. Occasionally, technicians attend vocational or technical college, where they receive hands-on training and obtain certifications upon graduation.
Jobs for air conditioning and refrigeration technicians are expected to increase by 28 percent during the 2008-18 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). More than 308,000 workers held jobs as technicians in May 2008, the BLS reported. "People and businesses depend on their climate-control or refrigeration systems and must keep them in good working order, regardless of economic conditions," according to the BLS.
Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians earned anywhere from $29,000 to more than $65,000 in March 2010, according to PayScale.com. Meanwhile, the BLS reported that the median wage for technicians was $19.08 per hour in May 2008.
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