Refrigeration and air conditioning engineer

Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

£38,480

Currently employed in Scotland

1,100

Five year job forecast

-6.02%

"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures.

What's it like?

You would design, install and repair cooling systems in buildings so they are safe and effective.

You could specialise in refrigeration. You’d then work on cooling systems in places like:

  • Supermarkets
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Food processing plants
  • Factories

If you instead specialise in air conditioning, you would install and maintain the systems that control the air quality, temperature and humidity inside modern buildings. These include offices, schools and leisure complexes.

Whichever area you work in, you would:

  • Survey the buildings where cooling systems are to be fitted
  • Discuss requirements with customers
  • Produce quotes for work
  • Design and install systems
  • Run quality checks to make sure systems work properly and safely
  • Diagnose and fix faults
  • Do planned maintenance

You would also advise customers on how to reduce their energy consumption. You’d be working with renewable energy technologies and the special types of gas used in systems that do not damage the Earth’s atmosphere.

You need to be able to follow technical drawings, building plans and other instructions. It would be important to understand and adopt safe working practices.

Working conditions

Hours

You would normally work from 37 to 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may also be on a rota for out-of-hours emergency work, which could include evenings and weekends.

Environment

You would work in all types of buildings, for example supermarkets, hospitals or shopping centres. You might also work on construction sites, which could be dusty and cold. You may have to work in cramped and uncomfortable conditions in order to access some air conditioning and refrigeration units.

Travel

You would travel from one job to the next in your local or regional area but if you work for a big national company, you may have to work away from home at certain times. You may need a driving licence and access to a vehicle for many jobs.

UK employment status

Full-time

81%

Part-time

0%

Self employed

19%

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Taking initiative
  • Attention to detail
  • Understanding
  • Reading
  • Verbal communication
  • Observation
  • Resourceful
  • Working with numbers
  • Problem solving
  • Evaluating

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

You could do a Modern Apprenticeship leading to a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Electrical Installation or Install, Commission and Maintain Refrigeration Systems (SVQ level 2/3).

Or a National Certificate (SCQF level 7), a National Qualification (SCQF level 7), a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) in areas like Electrical Engineering.

Entry requirements for a Modern Apprenticeship vary but employers may ask for up to four qualifications at SCQF level 4/5. You usually have to pass an aptitude test before you can start training.

Useful subjects

  • Maths (required by many courses and employers)
  • Science subjects, in particular physics (required by many courses and employers) 
  • English
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering science

You will also need

Once in a job you must hold current F Gas Certification. You may achieve this as part of a relevant work-based qualification such as Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Install, Commission and Maintain Refrigeration Systems (SVQ level 2/3) or City and Guilds Refrigerant Handling.

You will need a driving licence for most jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF level 5).