Refrigerator Mechanic: Job Duties, Career Outlook and Education Prerequisites

Refrigerators are among the most common appliances; when they break down, refrigerator mechanics are called to troubleshoot and repair. Most companies that hire refrigerator mechanics require applicants to have received training from a trade school or community college, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Major Appliance Repair or a certificate in refrigerator repair. Schools offering Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Refrigerator mechanics examine refrigerators and repair them, if necessary. In order to become one, you will probably need some postsecondary education, possibly at a community college or trade school. This field is growing more quickly than the national average.

Responsibilities Inspecting and repairing refrigerators
Career Outlook Expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026* (all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers)
Training Associate's degree or apprenticeship and on-the-job training
Median Salary (2017)* $47,080 (all heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do Refrigerator Mechanics Do?

Refrigerator mechanics install, inspect, and repair refrigerators and similar devices. Refrigerator installation can be a complicated process due to wiring, electrical, and space concerns; refrigerator mechanics give advice as to the best places for installation and storage. When refrigerators need repair, refrigerator mechanics use their expertise to find out what's wrong; in most cases, they can pinpoint a problem by carefully inspecting a device using only their eyes and ears.

Refrigerator mechanics largely use hand tools like screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches in their work; some tough jobs may require the usage of soldering equipment. Federal and state regulations require refrigerator mechanics to track the release of chemicals used in the refrigeration process which may be harmful to the environment.

What Training Do I Need?

Many community colleges and trade schools offer programs for those interested in becoming a refrigerator mechanic. Most programs combine refrigeration with heating and air-conditioning repair, such as an Associate of Applied Science in HVAC Repair. Refrigerator repair courses in these programs include:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Introduction to refrigeration
  • Pneumatic control
  • Metal fabrication layout
  • Theory

It's also a good idea for prospective refrigerator mechanics to have a background in math and mechanical drawing. Many states require refrigerator mechanics to pass a test in order to be properly licensed; others require refrigerator mechanics to become certified in the proper handling of chemicals that can be harmful to the environment.

What is the Outlook for this Career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), 332,900 heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanic and installer jobs existed as of 2016. From 2016-2026, the number of jobs in this field was expected to increase by 15%, a rate much faster than the national average. New construction and increased use of systems that are climate-controlled can create more openings for these mechanics and installers.

As of May 2017, the median annual salary for heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers was $47,080; those at the top of the industry made in excess of $75,330 per year. Most heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics work for building equipment contractors or for stores that specialize in appliance sales.

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