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What does a Refrigeration Engineer do?

By D. Jeffress
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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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.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon321575 — On Feb 23, 2013

Unless you have a four-year bachelor of engineering degree you cannot call yourself an engineer. The latest one I laughed at was cabling "engineer". It's the guy who runs electrical cables through houses. Cheapens the name of engineer.

By marquejohn — On May 10, 2012

Wine Coolers are small refrigerators that can be used to store up to dozens of wine bottles at the required temperature.

By marquejohn — On May 09, 2012

If you are looking for a career in a technical field particularly in engineering, air conditioning refrigeration engineering is a good choice. It has good career prospects, considering the fact that many businesses and industries rely on refrigeration engineers.

By anon266576 — On May 07, 2012

Industrial refrigeration engineers are essential contacts for any establishment wishing to make the most of their refrigeration equipment.

By anon100447 — On Jul 30, 2010

"Engineer" is just a word now. If you work in the industrial part of refrigeration you're called a power engineer, and all that's required for that is a six month course and six to eight months of training.

By anon70619 — On Mar 15, 2010

This article is about being a Refrigeration Tech, not a Refrigeration Engineer. Becoming a refrigeration Engineer requires a four year degree in engineering, four years of working under a licenced engineer, and passing the Professional Engineering exam. Then you can call yourself an "Engineer."

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