Refrigeration and air conditioning engineer

Refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) engineers design, install and maintain cooling systems.

What does a refrigeration and air conditioning engineer do?

Refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) engineers design, install and maintain cooling systems in buildings like supermarkets, offices, schools, hospitals and food processing plants.

Your work could cover one of two broad areas:

  • refrigeration – designing, installing and maintaining cooling systems in places like supermarkets, restaurants, hospitals, food processing plants and factories
  • air-conditioning – installing and servicing systems that control air quality, temperature and humidity inside offices, schools, leisure complexes and other modern buildings

Whichever area you work in, your duties could include:

  • surveying buildings where cooling systems are to be fitted
  • discussing requirements with customers
  • giving quotes for work
  • designing and installing systems
  • running quality checks to make sure systems are working properly and safely
  • diagnosing and fixing faults
  • planned maintenance

In this industry you would be at the forefront of protecting the environment. You work with renewable energy technologies to improve energy efficiency, and special types of gas that don’t harm the ozone layer. You would also advise customers on how to reduce their energy consumption.

What do I need to do to become a refrigeration and air conditioning engineer?

Most people start as an apprentice from school or college and train on the job. Generally, training will take between two and four years to complete, depending on the apprenticeship

If you are not already working or training in the industry, you may be able to take a Level 1 or 2 college course, which would give you some of the knowledge and skills needed to help find a trainee job.

You may need a driving licence.

Related skills

  • Ability to understand technical plans
  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

Vocational route

  • Apprenticeship in a related subject
  • Level 1 Certificate in Introduction to Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Skills
  • Level 2 Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering
  • Level 2 Diploma in Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Systems

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You travel between jobs in your local or regional area. But if you work for a big national company, you may have to work away from home sometimes.

You work in all types of buildings, for example supermarkets, hospitals or shopping centres. 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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