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A refrigeration engineer installs and services refrigeration systems for commercial buildings, delivery trucks, and residences. He or she might specialize by working with industrial-sized refrigerating systems, walk-in coolers, or home units. In addition, many engineers are certified to work on several different types of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Service engineers can enter the field after completing two-year training programs at vocational schools or community colleges, working as apprentices for up to four years, and passing licensing and certification exams.
Many refrigeration engineers install, maintain, and repair refrigerators and HVAC systems in homes and apartment buildings. Workers typically follow blueprints and instruction manuals to install new systems. They connect air ducts, water and coolant pipes, and electrical wires. When maintenance, repairs, or replacement parts are required, a refrigeration engineer usually troubleshoots a system, dismantles motors or electrical parts, and performs any necessary services.
A refrigeration engineer might work on walk-in coolers, air-conditioned delivery trucks, commercial refrigeration units, or large industrial systems. To ensure safety, he or she must have expert knowledge of large scale power supplies and electrical machinery. A service engineer who maintains coolers and delivery trucks is usually required to work very quickly to preserve food or other supplies in cool atmospheres. Engineers often work in teams to install large pipes and air ducts in commercial buildings and industrial facilities.
To become a refrigeration engineer, a person must typically receive an HVAC technician certificate from a community college or vocational school. Some people, however, are able to obtain refrigeration engineer jobs with a high school diploma and a proven aptitude for mechanical systems. Most new engineers work as assistants or apprentices for about four years, receiving hands-on training from experienced professionals. Individuals may be required to pass licensing exams administered by their state or country, which test their understanding of basic job skills and safety measures.
Engineers who handle potentially hazardous refrigerants must obtain special certification. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency offers certifying programs and tests that qualify individuals to work with different grades of refrigerants. Additional certification is not usually required, though many engineers choose to take exams offered by organizations such as the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society to improve their credentials and their chances of finding steady work.
An individual who works in a research and development institution might specialize in refrigeration systems engineering. He or she is responsible for designing new or more efficient machinery using computer models and drafting software. Such professionals typically hold advanced engineering degrees and have extensive knowledge of the mechanical, chemical, and electrical properties of HVAC and refrigeration systems.