How To Become An Air Conditioning (AC) Technician In Australia?

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Students want to know how to become air conditioning mechanics or technicians in Australia.


Do you like machine work and enjoy hands-on practical work? If yes, a career as an Air Conditioning Mechanic might be ideal for you.


Air Conditioning technicians assemble, install, maintain, test, repair, and service air conditioning systems and equipment in domestic, commercial, and industrial buildings.


To become a conditioning mechanic (technician) in Australia, you must complete an apprenticeship with a Certificate III in Air-conditioning and Refrigeration trade qualification.


This blog explores how to become an Air Conditioning technician in Australia, including the qualifications, courses, apprenticeships, training, relevant duties, skills, and more.



1. What Is an Air Conditioning Technician?


Air Conditioning Technicians work for companies specialising in ventilation, heating, and air conditioning.


They install, repair, and maintain air conditioning units in commercial buildings and private residences.


They select components, follow plans, and perform installations. They use various tools to install air ducts, replacing evaporator coils, clean air conditioning units, and find and repair faults.



2. What Is A Refrigeration Mechanic?


Refrigeration Mechanics work in industrial, commercial, and domestic sectors. 


They are experts in installing, testing, repairing, and servicing cooling and heating systems and hold licenses in handling refrigerant substances.



3. What Does Air-Conditioning And Refrigeration Mechanics Do?


  • Read and understand technical drawings and specifications and establish job requirements.

  • Lay out reference points for the installation

  • Assemble, install, repair, and maintain industrial, commercial and domestic AC and refrigeration equipment and systems

  • Follow specifications and plans to install, service, commission, and maintain equipment.

  • Drill holes, cut, twist, align and connect piping to refrigeration systems.

  • Install components such as condensers, compressors, evaporators, air filters, switches, motors, controls, copper lines, and gauges for gas, steam, refrigerant, oil, chilled water, and compressed air

  • Fill systems with fluid or gas to test any leakage in the system.

  • Record reasons behind the faulty operation of the system and actions taken

  • Remove test fluid and gas with the help of vacuum pumps.

  • Fill refrigerant into the system as per the relevant regulations and standards. 

  • Test air handling and refrigeration units and make adjustments to ensure their proper operation 

  • Use computers to monitor systems and remotely adjust the operation of all equipment in a given building.

  • Adjust system controls and reassemble systems

  • Check and repair refrigeration systems, identify faults, and replace faulty parts.

  • Test-operating refrigeration systems, checking mechanisms and making adjustments.



4. Air Conditioning Mechanic Skills


Various skills may assist you in performing the daily tasks of an AC professional. Some of these include:


  • Able to work with hands and power-driven tools

  • Able to comprehend product manuals, diagrams, schematics, and blueprints.

  • Strong organisational skills 

  • Enjoy doing technical work

  • Able to work patiently, methodically, and thoroughly

  • Normal colour vision

  • Good customer service skills 

  • Good sense of teamwork 

  • Good communication skills

  • Able to follow set procedures and routines

  • Spatial awareness to enhance the workplace experience

  • Time management skills

  • Physical stamina to handle and displace objects using arms and hands

  • Able to work with mechanical equipment

  • Willingness to stay constantly updated with technology and fresh ideas.

  • Able to comply with set standards, laws, and regulations

  • Good reporting and documenting skills



5. Qualifications To Become An Air Conditioning Technician


To work in this profession, you must complete a formal trade qualification, an apprenticeship/ traineeship, and related licenses.


Here are the steps to qualify for this role:


  • Gain Year 10 education

  • Consider completing three to four years of Certificate III in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration (UEE32220). Many training institutes offer it as part of an apprenticeship. This course is usually a mix of on-the-job training and theoretical learning.

  • Additionally, you need a Refrigerant Handling Licence to work as an Air Conditioning Technician in Australia. You need to apply for it through the Australian Refrigeration Council. 

  • Obtain a Construction Induction Card (white card) by completing a short course on Construction Induction Training at a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

  • To further improve your career prospects, you can undertake a Diploma of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering or Certificate IV in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems.



6. Steps To Become An Air Conditioning Mechanic In Australia


Here is a step-by-step guide that can improve your chances of landing this role:



Step 1: Study The Correct Subjects


Though there are no prerequisite study requirements to work as an Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic, you should complete Year 10 education in Mathematics and science.


Employers prefer applicants with a strong understanding of mathematics and an interest in technical subjects such as science and computer sciences.



Step 2: Develop The Right Skills


An Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration mechanic needs various skills to accomplish their task efficiently. You need good interpersonal skills to deal with stressed customers who want their AC back fast. 


Thus, the ability to remain calm under pressure and to communicate clearly and concisely is necessary for this role.


In addition to the soft skills, you should develop a few desirable technical skills, such as 


  • Interpreting technical diagrams and drawings

  • Following specs and blueprints to install components

  • Filling refrigerant following governing procedures and regulations

  • Applying logic and problem-solving skills to identify faults

  • Working with manual and power tools

  • Working in a team with other onsite people, such as pipe fitters and electricians.



Step 3: Undertake A Refrigeration Mechanic Apprenticeship


Most people working as Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics in Australia hold either Certificate III or IV qualifications. 


Apprenticeships in ventilation, air conditioning, and heating provide a professional qualification and make you a certified Air Conditioning and Refrigerant technician.


You get to enjoy the best job opportunities in just a short period. Apprenticeships usually take three years to complete, with training from your employer that comprises practical training and theoretical studies.


At each stage of an apprenticeship, you develop soft skills and technical competencies to carry out a broad range of AC technician duties. 



Step 4: Obtain the Necessary Licenses


Depending on your role, you may be required to obtain specific licenses before working in this profession. 


You must complete a Construction Induction Training at an RTO and obtain a Construction Induction Card or White card if you want to work on construction sites.


Secondly, all AC and Refrigerant technicians must apply for a Refrigerant Handling Licence through the Australian Refrigeration Council. This license convinces an employer that you are competent in handling refrigerant substances. 


As Refrigeration and Air Conditioning is a trade industry, certifications and licensing requirements vary based on your state. It is necessary to consult your state authority to know the exact conditions.


It ensures that only trained professionals perform risky jobs and deal with hazardous substances.



Step 5: Start Your Job Search As An HVAC Technician


After completing your apprenticeship, you can join this dynamic industry on the lookout for highly qualified refrigeration mechanics. 


But before you apply for jobs, ensure your resume and cover letter are up-to-date to fit the potential job requirements. Alter it to highlight your qualification, skills, and work experience (if any) in refrigeration that will help increase your chances of getting job success. 


Once done, you can start applying for careers as AC technicians via online job boards.



7. Air-Conditioning And Refrigeration Mechanic Courses In TAFE


If you are interested in becoming an AC and Refrigerant Technician, consider undertaking the following industry-focused and comprehensive air conditioning and refrigeration courses.


  • Certificate III In Air Conditioning And Refrigeration

  • Diploma In Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Engineering

  • Certificate IV in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning


Graduates will get skilled in several aspects of air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, including:


  • Detection of gas leaks 

  • Diagnosis of faults

  • Repair, modernise, or recharge AC systems

  • Dismantle and reassemble mechanical parts

  • Create strong business connections and run a small business successfully



8. Where Do Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Mechanics Work?


Air Conditioning Technicians use their trade skills to work in various commercial, construction, industrial or domestic environments such as homes, factories, office buildings, supermarkets, hospitals, hotels, service shops, and cold stores.


They work for manufacturing and service maintenance firms to install, repair, and service air conditioning systems. They also build and assemble refrigeration components for transport and mass food storage.


A few professionals work in firms specialising in food treatment plants, solar-powered ventilation, cold food storage, and refrigeration on ships. Specialist AC technicians also work at agricultural farms that store their harvest in warehouses that use automated ventilation systems.


After gaining experience as an Air Conditioning Technician, they may undertake further training and get promoted to senior roles under different categories such as supervisory, associate, sales, technologist, management, or engineer


Some even choose to set up their air conditioning business and work self-employed



9. The Most Common Job Roles For AC And Refrigeration Mechanics


The Air Conditioning and refrigeration industry create the following exciting career opportunities across Australia:


  • Refrigeration and airconditioning mechanic

  • Airconditioning technician (split systems)

  • Refrigeration and Airconditioning technologist

  • Industrial ventilation systems and air purification Specialists, and

  • HVAC Specialist

  • Vending Machine Servicer   



10. Work Conditions For A Refrigeration And Air Conditioning Mechanic


Refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics usually work on large industrial and commercial units to perform the AC installation on a part-by-part basis or in pre-assembled units.


They may require extended hours to fix sudden collapses and attend emergency repairs. These professionals may work independently or with associated tradespeople, including carpenters, electricians, and pipe fitters.


As the job requires climbing, bending, and balancing to lift, move, and handle objects, mechanics need physical fitness and stamina to execute the job efficiently.



11. Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Mechanic Wage


The average refrigeration mechanic’s salary is AU$ 68,952 per year, or an hourly equivalent of AU$ 30.52 in Australia. 


Most refrigeration mechanic positions work full-time and may include benefits and perks such as sick leave, paid holidays, vacation, and health benefits.


Like in any profession, the more qualifications, skills, and experience you have, the more money you will earn. There is potential to draw a higher pay based on the role you are applying for. The starting salary could be low but will gradually increase as you take on responsibilities and progress to senior positions.


  • Entry-level professionals (< 1-year experience): AU$25.46 

  • Early career professionals (1-4 years of experience): AU$26.05

  • Mid-career professionals (5-9 years of experience): AU$31.38 

  • Experienced professionals (10-19 years of experience): AU$34.17 



The Higehst Paying Cities For Refrigeration Mechanic’s


  • Coburg VIC: $148,000 per year

  • Port Hedland, WA: $118,707 per year

  • Darwin NT: $86,721 per year

  • Melbourne VIC: $85,490 per year

  • Perth WA: $80,298 per year

  • Seven Hills NSW: $76,273 per year

  • Brisbane QLD: $75,167 per year

  • Adelaide SA: $74,855 per year


The average air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic salary in Australia is AU$ 56,120 per year or AU$ 31.50 per hour. The expected air conditioning mechanic salary at varying levels of experience is as follows:


  • Early career: AU$25.00 

  • Mid-career: AU$30.88 

  • Experienced level: AU$39.41 



Highest Paying Cities For Air Conditioning Technicians in Australia


  • Rockhampton QLD: $98,139 per year

  • Canberra ACT: $91,483 per year

  • Cairns QLD: $89,687 per year

  • Thebarton SA: $86,818 per year

  • Perth WA: $81,268 per year

  • Adelaide SA: $77,786 per year

  • Brisbane QLD: $77,687 per year

  • Melbourne VIC: $74,018 per year



12. Job Prospects For Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Mechanics


Job opportunities for air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are impacted by the extent of refurbishment and building activity, particularly in the commercial and industrial sectors.


With rising temperatures, the need for installing cooling systems in residential and commercial spaces has increased.


Furthermore, due to an ageing workforce and lack of skilled workers, AC technicians haven’t been able to meet the demand for the last year.


Considering this, the Australian Government has created extra apprenticeship funds to support 80,000 new apprentices for the next five years to 2024.


The labour markers insights project a strong demand for refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics. It will result in the creation of new job openings over the next five years. The future employment growth in this occupation is likely to remain stable.


Based on the latest data for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026, the number will grow moderately from 29,600 in 2021 to 30,800 by 2026. 


Around 89% of Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics work full-time, for an average of 44 hours a week. More than 50% of workers work overtime or beyond standard work hours.


The primary industries that recruit Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics are:


  • Other services: 47.2%

  • Construction: 39.6%

  • Retail trade: 3.1%

  • Manufacturing: 2.8%

  • Other Industries: 6.9%



Areas of Employment


The below regions have the largest share of workers:


  • Gold Coast

  • Sydney - Outer West and the Blue Mountains

  • Perth - North West

  • Melbourne - South East

  • Melbourne - Outer East



Average Age and Gender Profile


The average age of employed Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics is 33 years. Most of the workers are between 25 and 34 years.


Females make up only 1% of the workforce which is 47 percentage points less than the average of all jobs in Australia, 48%.



13. How To Get General Skilled Migration Visa?


If you study in Australia for at least two years, you may qualify for the Temporary Graduate Visa. It gives you unlimited work rights for 1.5 years in Australia. Students can develop work experience or find an employer to sponsor their visas during this period.


Temporary Graduate Visa applicants can also undertake the Job Ready Program through Trade Recognition Australia. Through this program, job applicants who need more experience can get a skill assessment for skilled migration purposes. 


The required air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic courses for international students for a positive skills assessment are the Certificate III of Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration (342111).


After obtaining a positive skills assessment as an Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanic in Australia, students can apply for permanent General Skilled Migration Visas.


Students who complete this course and participate in the job-ready program can live and work in Australia without being sponsored by an employer and living in a regional area.



14. Conclusion


Air conditioning Mechanics is a large and highly versatile profession that offers good employment prospects and a competitive salary.


In this role, you challenge yourself daily by working on new constructions and renovations in residential, commercial, and industrial settings.


Follow the above steps to ensure you have the best opportunity to land a perfect job in the Air Conditioning industry.


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