Top Refrigeration Technician Training Programs

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Like so many careers, becoming a refrigeration technician can seem like an insurmountable goal for those who are at the very beginning of the journey. An average person opening up a refrigerator or air conditioning unit will have no idea what to make of the different parts (and indeed, has no business even opening those appliances up). But, unlike many careers, becoming a refrigeration technician does not necessarily mean committing four (or more) years to college or five years to entry level jobs. Comprehensive refrigeration training can take less than a year, and even brand new technicians can start earning and working independently in a short period of time. Indeed, with the right education, this stable and lucrative career can be just around the corner.

According to CareerOneStop, demand for refrigeration technicians is expected to increase by 14% through 2024. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average salary for these types of technicians at more than $45,000 per year, which is quite comfortable for a job requiring not more than an AS degree (BLS, 2015).

The first step towards success in this career is education. The training programs included on this list are diverse, both geographically and academically. However, each of these programs offers refrigeration technician training that has been shown to be among the best in the country. These schools are qualified to train brand new refrigeration technicians and get them prepared to start in the workforce with the proper knowledge and certifications.

Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute

The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is a trade association that acts as a training center and advocacy group for HVAC and refrigeration manufacturers throughout the U.S. AHRI offers a number of refrigeration technician training programs which include certification in such specialties as Reclaimed Refrigerant, Transport Refrigeration, Refrigerant Recovery.

American Trainco

Unlike most of the other institutions on this list, American Trainco exists solely for training professionals in different mechanical and industrial trades. The students at American Trainco are often already employed and take seminars in order to improve their standing at work or further their career. The training company offers a 2-day seminar in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, which culminates in an EPA 608 refrigeration technician certification. A course with American Trainco can be a great choice for those prospective refrigeration technicians who do not want to take general education courses or spend multiple years in the classroom.

AVTEC

AVTEC is a division of Alaska's Department of Labor and Workforce Development and is sometimes referred to as Alaska's Institute of Technology. AVTEC is an employment development program rather than an academic institution and therefore teaches useful skills to its students, such as refrigeration technology. The refrigeration technician training program at AVTEC consists of both classroom and hands-on experience. Strong skills in reading and mathematics are required in order to succeed in this program.

College of Southern Nevada

The College of Southern Nevada, or CSN, has programs for both an Associate of Applied Science degree and a Certificate of Achievement in Air Conditioning Technology. Both programs of study feature courses in commercial and transport refrigeration, which are essential bases of knowledge for any refrigeration technician. The courses take place at the Cheyenne campus, which is located in Las Vegas, and the Henderson campuses which is in nearby Henderson, NV.

Coyne College

Coyne College in Chicago offers student an opportunity to earn an HVACR degree or diploma. The Coyne College program has a particular emphasis on the sustainability aspect of the refrigeration technician career. Technicians that graduate from Coyne are prepared not only to repair and install refrigeration systems but also to work with the newest and most sophisticated equipment, meaning they will be well-trained for whatever the career has in store.

Delaware Technical Community College

At the Georgetown campus of Delaware Technical Community College students can earn an ENT certificate in Refrigeration, Heating, and AC Studies. The course requires 38 course hours and prepares graduates to become Commercial Refrigeration Systems Technicians, or to assist other technicians thereby earning more experience in the field and advancing along the career path towards refrigeration technician.

Emily Griffith Technical College

Emily Griffith Technical College, which has campus locations throughout the Denver metropolitan area, offers studies in refrigeration technology as part of their College of Trades and Industry. The refrigeration technician program is separate from the school's programs for Commercial and Residential HVAC Technicians and Residential HVAC Technicians. The refrigeration technician training program at Emily Griffith Technical College includes courses in math, safety, piping skills and multiple courses in refrigeration theory and practice.

Ferris State University

At Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, student can earn an HVAC Associate of Applied Science degree in 68 credit hours. The program includes courses in both residential air conditioning and commercial refrigeration so that graduates are fully prepared to join the workforce as a refrigeration technician.

Harper College

Harper College, located in Palatine, Illinois, offers a variety of professional certifications in the refrigeration field, including Refrigeration Service, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service, and Domestic Refrigeration and Heating. These certificates are under the broader umbrella of HVAC in the Architecture and Construction department of the college. Separate courses are available for an EPA Section 608 Refrigerant Handling Certificate as well as the R-410A certification.

Ranken Technical College

At Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, Missouri, dedicated students can choose their path to a career as a refrigeration technician. Those with less time to dedicate can earn a Certificate of Technology while the more committed student can spend two years earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration. Certificate of Technology training is shorter but still includes all the technical training of the AAS degree.

Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association

The Refrigeration Engineers and Technicians Association, also referred to as RETA, is a trade specific organization where industry professionals can find tools, training, and networking opportunities as refrigeration technicians. RETA offers training materials as well as online courses that help prepare new refrigeration technicians for jobs and further the knowledge base for experiences workers.

Refrigeration Service Engineers Society

The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society is an organization specifically created for the training of refrigeration technicians and HVAC professionals. The RSES has been doing this type of work since 1933. The society offers a number of courses in both refrigeration and air conditioning. Many of the courses are offered remotely, using self-guided eLearning while others are in person, instructor-guided courses at their main location in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The RSES also has an articulation agreement with the Pennsylvania College of Technology that allows students to transform RSES seminars into college credits.

Tennessee College of Applied Technology

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, offers an EPA-approved training program for heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration. The ultimate result of this training program can be a certificate or a diploma, depending on the student's commitment. The program is also largely self-paced, making it a good choice for those working professionals who still wish to pursue refrigeration training. The Refrigeration Technician Diploma requires a total of 1296 hours of course work and practical experience.

The Refrigeration School

The Refrigeration School, located in Phoenix, Arizona, offers a variety of training in different refrigeration areas. Many of the programs offer classes during both day and night hours so that even working professionals can further their refrigeration education. The school's certificate in Refrigeration Technologies can be completed in as few as six months and includes instruction in both residential and commercial refrigeration work.

Methodology

Anyone who is unfamiliar with the profession may be surprised at just how many refrigeration technician training opportunities there are in the country. It is a program offered at many technical schools and community colleges. We used the following criteria to narrow this list down to just 15.

  1. Refrigeration Specific Training Many refrigeration programs are lumped in with HVAC degrees. This can be good for those who want to pursue a more diverse career path, but those courses can also require a much bigger time commitment. Students who know they want to pursue a refrigeration technician career can get a certificate from most of these programs in the fraction of the time it takes to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree.

  2. EPA Approval One of the first steps towards finding employment as a refrigeration technician is having a Section 608 certificate from the Environmental Protection Agency. Every school on this list has been vetted and approved by the EPA for certification training and testing, meaning students will have every opportunity to get certified before they complete their training program.

  3. Geographic Diversity There are terrific refrigeration technician training programs in every state in the country. We wanted to be sure to include a spectrum of options and so chose 15 programs that are scattered around the country.

  4. School Accreditation Licensing for refrigeration technicians varies from state to state, but nation accreditation programs exist to evaluate and approve of all types of educational institutions. The programs on this list have been accredited by at least one nationally recognizes accreditation organization, such as the Council on Occupational Education or the Higher Learning Commission.

Barry Franklin

Before co-founding Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, Barry Franklin was a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. He is an investor and advisor for DataSimply and Impellia. Barry believes that education and lifelong learning are paramount. Barry met his wife at Carnegie Mellon University and they have two beautiful daughters. He also volunteers for various committees at his kids’ high school.

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