Refrigeration/Air-conditioning Technician Kaihangarau Pūrere Whakamātao

Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians install, service and maintain refrigeration and air-conditioning systems.

Qualified refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians need to be registered and licensed with the Electrical Workers Registration Board.

To work with compressed gas you must hold an approved filler compliance certificate.

Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians may do some or all of the following:

  • advise clients on different refrigeration/air-conditioning systems
  • install refrigeration/air-conditioning systems
  • test, adjust and balance systems to make sure they work properly
  • check refrigeration/air-conditioning systems for faults and repair them
  • manage and supervise less experienced refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians.

Physical Requirements

Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians need to have a good level of fitness and be strong as they may need to carry heavy tools and equipment.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians includes:

  • plumbing and gasfitting
  • work in an engineering workshop
  • electrical work.

Personal Qualities

Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians need to be:

  • able to work accurately with their hands
  • good problem solvers
  • able to follow health and safety guidelines
  • good at making calculations and problem solving
  • comfortable working in enclosed spaces and at heights.


Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • mechanical and electrical systems
  • how gases behave at different pressures and temperatures
  • basic physics and chemistry
  • the advantages and disadvantages of different refrigeration/air-conditioning systems
  • how to interpret building plans and technical drawings.


Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians:

  • may work more than 40 hours a week, including evenings and weekends 
  • may work shifts
  • work indoors and outdoors on commercial and residential sites
  • may work in confined spaces or at heights
  • may travel to work on projects.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, physics, digital technologies, construction and mechanical technologies, processing technologies and English to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Refrigeration/Air-conditioning Technicians can earn around $50K-$95K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Refrigeration/Air-conditioning Technician are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians depends on skills, experience and where they work.

  • Apprentice refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians may start on the training minimum wage or minimum wage, with pay increasing as they gain skills or complete unit standards.
  • Qualified refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians usually earn between $50,000 and $95,000 a year.
  • Highly experienced refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians who manage teams or own their own businesses may earn more.

Source: Kelly Services, '2019 Salary Guide', March 2019.

Refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians may progress to set up their own refrigeration or air-conditioning business.

They may specialise in either refrigeration or air-conditioning systems.

Years Of Training

0-4 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a refrigeration/air-conditioning technician as you gain skills on the job. However, many employers prefer to hire refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians who have or are working towards a qualification.

To become a fully qualified refrigeration/air-conditioning technician you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning – Trade (Level 4).  Competenz oversees refrigeration/air-conditioning apprenticeships.

Most refrigeration/air-conditioning technicians also need a driver's license.

Refrigeration/Air-conditioning Technician