Learn to install, maintain, repair and overhaul industrial, commercial and residential refrigeration and air conditioning systems and their parts.

At installation sites, you'll work from drawings or verbal instructions to:

  • mount or place system components
  • assemble and install refrigeration or air conditioning systems and components
  • install and calibrate related controls (including wiring) and start-up systems
  • test lines to detect leaks
  • record the readings taken to ensure that the system is functioning satisfactorily.

Maintenance involves checking all system parts, lubricating moving parts and monitoring the refrigerant charge. When there is a malfunction, you will diagnose the problem and fix the unit by replacing or repairing controls, electric wiring or other parts.

You may also repair heating equipment, troubleshoot gas-fired equipment and calibrate all gas-related controls.

To work in this trade, certification is required. This means that you must either be a registered apprentice working under the guidance of a certified journeyperson or you must be a certified journeyperson yourself.

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics are skilled tradespeople who like collaborating with others as well as working independently.

This line of work is most fulfilling for those who enjoy working with their hands in a variety of environments and developing specialized skills.

To thrive in this career, it is important to have the following traits:

  • Creative problem solver
  • Good customer service skills
  • Good math and science skills
  • Adaptable to working in different environments
  • Physical stamina to use proper lifting techniques for heavy pipes, being on feet for long periods, and working in cramped positions
  • Mechanical ability
  • Ability to work independently or in a team
  • Commitment to safe working conditions

Upon successfully completing the required working hours and apprenticeship education periods, graduates will be awarded an advanced diploma in addition to journeyperson status by Alberta’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

The Journeyperson will also be awarded their first year of Gas B or first year of Gas A if they choose to get a second trade.

This is a Red Seal Endorsed trade – a recognizable standard that allows tradespeople to work across Canada.

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Careers and opportunities

Apprenticeship training

The term of apprenticeship for a refrigeration and air condition mechanic is 4 years (four 12-month periods), including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of classroom instruction each year.

Year 1 | Period 1

You will start by learning occupational skills. You will then learn an introduction to refrigeration, air conditioning and heating, an introduction to electrical theory and introductions to controls.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 2 | Period 2

You will learn basic refrigeration and air conditioning, basic heating, basic electrical theory and basic controls.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 3 | Period 3

You will learn intermediate refrigeration and air conditioning, intermediate heating theory, intermediate electrical theory and air handling theory.

Training length: 8 weeks

Year 4 | Period 4

You will then learn advanced refrigeration theory, advanced heating theory, complex air system theory and advanced control systems.

Training length: 8 weeks 

Apprenticeship education performance

To succeed in apprenticeship education, you must pass each section of the course and the AIT exam.

The passing grade for each section in a course is 65%. A passing mark on each provincial exam and the interprovincial qualification (or Red Seal Exam) is 70%.

View Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training procedures


Training pathways

You can earn your journeyperson designation in the following way.  

The traditional training pathway begins with finding a job with an employer willing to indenture you as an apprentice. Once you are an apprentice, you will alternate between on-the-job training and educational periods. 
You must apply for an apprenticeship through Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training before attending your first education period at SAIT. 

A Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic apprentice works on an electrical panel.

Pre-employment pathway

SAIT’s Pre-employment Refrigeration and Air Conditioning program prepares you to enter into an apprenticeship with hands-on skills. Upon successfully completing the program, you’ll qualify to challenge the first-year Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic apprenticeship exam.

Pre-employment Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Admission requirements

To enter an apprenticeship, you must have the educational qualifications required or recommended education for the trade to which you apply.

Entrance requirements are monitored and set by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Minimum requirements

Successful completion of the following courses:

  • English 30-2
  • Math 30-3
  • Physics 20 or Chemistry 20


A pass mark in all five Canadian General Educational Development (GED) tests


Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Entrance Exam

Recommended requirements

Apprentices with an Alberta High School Diploma that includes the following courses:

  • English 30-2
  • Math 30-3
  • Physics 20 OR Chemistry 20
  • Related career and technology studies (CTS) courses
A woman wearing coveralls and a welding helmet poses for a photograph in a SAIT welding lab.


Once you have begun working as an apprentice, you can attend SAIT to complete your technical training.

You'll register for technical training at SAIT on MyTradeSecrets or you can register by phone.

How to register

Available intakes


2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023.

Domestic students

Period Number of weeks Tuition fees Additional fees Total
1 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
2 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
3 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
4 8 $1,056 $319 $1,375
Total cost:

Books or modules, along with other items for classes, are approximately $600 per period.

It's recommended you don't purchase books or modules ahead of time as they might be outdated by the time you attend classes, and they cannot be returned to the Bookstore.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required for the program, which may be an additional cost to apprentices.

A man crosses his arms over planks of wood and smiles at the camera.

Funding options for apprentices

Apprentices get to learn while they earn, but there are still costs to consider. Many resources are available at SAIT and federally to help support apprentices.

Financial aid

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.


Have more questions?

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