Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2018: 10,001 to 25,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $901 to $1000 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2014
Brief As well as excellent technical skills, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics often need excellent customer service skills to deal with 'hot and bothered clients' whose cooling systems have broken down.

There are currently around 2,300 refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the construction industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile with under a third of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics aged 45 years or older.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

Accredited (Award)


Whether you need a refrigeration or an air conditioning system installed, serviced, or fully repaired, a refrigeration and air conditioning mechanic can do the job for you. And if it's a large commercial or industrial cooling system that needs installing, they may need to assemble it first. A cooling system is made up of many different parts, including a compressor, motor and air filter. Piping may also need to be attached and joints soldered to complete a system. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics ensure that each part of a cooling system is correctly positioned, before bolting it down with hand or power tools. They follow design instructions to ensure the parts are in the correct position. Pre-assembled units, usually for cooling domestic premises, just need to be installed by the mechanics.

Practical and Manual

Education Requirements

Of those currently employed 71% have either a Certificate III or IV; 5% have Bachelor Degrees; and 23% have no post school qualifications. In order for you to have the best possible chance of finding employment in your chosen career it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications.

TAFE SA offers the Certificate IV in Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Servicing.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Most of the refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics in South Australia are employed by companies that provide refrigeration and air conditioning services. Others are employed in retail, marine and manufacturing industries that are heavily dependent on cooling systems.

It is a large occupation with good employment prospects. Opportunities for refrigeration and airconditioning mechanics are affected by the level of building and refurbishment activity, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors.

Nature of the Job

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics also service and repair cooling systems. They regularly fix systems that have come to a halt because of electrical faults. First you have to determine where the problem is and then diagnose its cause, before you go about fixing the problem.

A cooling system has a compressor that pumps various types of gases, called refrigerants. The gas is then condensed and becomes a liquid, which is passed to an evaporator. The liquid changes back to a gas but during the evaporation process, heat is absorbed. The gas is pumped back to the compressor and you get cool air. This forms a continuous cycle, which can be interfered with by electrical or design faults. Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics also have to refill systems with gases and fluid, and most importantly, after they have installed or repaired a system, they then ensure that it actually works.

Typical Physical Working Environment

An understanding of mechanics as well as good problem-solving abilities are important in this occupation. Having an interest in electrical systems and electronic components will also help. During the installation of cooling systems, you'll often refer to design drawings, so you'll have to know how to interpret these. Excellent hand-eye coordination and good customer service skills for helping hot and bothered clients, will help you prosper in this job.

Typical Occupational Example

Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work on cooling systems of all sizes.
They assemble, install, service and repair industrial, commercial and domestic refrigeration and airconditioning systems in homes, shops, factories, office buildings and hospitals

For further information, contact:

Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors' Association of South Australia
42 Sir Donald Bradman Drv Mile End SA 5031
Ph: (08) 8234 2899
Fax: (08) 8234 1615

Refrigeration and Airconditioning Contractors' Association (SA)
213 Greenhill Rd Eastwood SA 5063
Ph: (08) 8272 2721
Fax: (08) 8373 1528

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online