• Careers and Employment Outlook

    What does an air conditioning and refrigeration technician do?
    Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems consist of many mechanical, electrical, and electronic components, including motors, compressors, pumps, fans, ducts, pipes, thermostats, and switches. Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and total air quality in residential, commercial, industrial, and other buildings. Refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items. Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians install, maintain, and repair such systems. Some technicians specialize in either installation of maintenance and repair. 
     
    Air conditioning and refrigeration technicians install and service central air conditioning systems and a variety of refrigeration equipment. Technicians follow blueprints, design specifications and manufacturers' instructions to install motors, compressors, condensing units, evaporators, piping, and other components. They connect this equipment to the duct work, refrigerant lines, and electrical power source. After making the connections, they charge the system with refrigerant, check it for proper operations, and program control systems.

    When air conditioning and refrigeration equipment breaks down, technicians diagnose the problem and make repairs. To do this, they may test parts such as compressors, relays, and thermostats. When servicing equipment, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration technicians must use care to conserve, recover, and recycle chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems.

    Earnings 

    Median hourly wages of heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers were $19.08 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.94 and $24.84 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.19, and the top 10 percent earned more than $30.59. For more information visit Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition.