Air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics assemble, install, maintain and repair industrial, commercial and domestic air conditioning and refrigeration systems and equipment.

Where air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are employed

Air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics mainly work in installation, service maintenance and manufacturing firms that service shops, hotels, factories, offices and hospitals. Some refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics work for firms that specialise in cold storage, food treatment plants and refrigeration on ships.

With experience and sometimes further training, promotion is possible to supervisory, sales, technician, associate, technologist or engineer positions. Some air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics are self-employed.


Full-time air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics in South Australia generally earn between $1,000 and $1,249 per week.

Graph of pay scales for airconditioning refrigeration mechanic

Job prospects

In 2011 there were 1,306 people employed full-time as air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics in South Australia compared with 1,121 in 2006.

How to become one

To become an air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in air conditioning and refrigeration. Entry requirements may vary but employers require year 10 as a minimum. For more information see apprenticeships.

See courses related to this occupation.

National environmental legislation requires those who work with refrigerant chemicals to possess special handling and/or trading licences issued by the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC).

Licensing or registration requirements

In South Australia all air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics must hold a current licence issued by Consumer and Business Services (CBS) as well as a Refrigerant Handling Licence (RHL) issued by the ARC.

Employers require a minimum of a Certificate III or a trade certificate.

Recognition of skills related work experience and qualifications obtained outside Australia

If you have extensive local trade experience but no formal qualifications or an overseas gained trade qualification you must undertake a recognition process before seeking a licence.

There are recognition pathways available for both local work experienced trades people and  overseas trained air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics which are dependent on individual circumstances. Pathways include:

  • undertake the Trades Recognition Service (TRS) skills assessment. The TRS provides skills assessment through recognition of prior learning by registered training organisations approved by Trades Recognition Australia (TRA)
  • engage with a Registered Training Organisation to undertake Recognition of Prior Learning and gap training
  • complete a fast-tracked apprenticeship.

Further gap training may be required after any recognition process to meet qualification and licensing requirements.

If you have migrated with an Offshore Technical Skills Record (OTSR) you can automatically apply for a restricted workers registration issued by CBS which allows you to work under direct supervision. You will still be required to undertake a recognition pathway to seek formal recognition of your trade skills for employment purposes and to access trade licensing.

For information about assessment of overseas qualifications, and looking for work in Australia visit Recognition of overseas qualifications or contact Skilled Arrival Services on 08 8303 2420 or email

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Career information has been sourced from government publications, see data sources for more information. 

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