Printer Friendly

Transport Refrigeration Technician


Transport refrigeration technicians install, repair and maintain equipment that supplies and contains conditioned air in mobile units used to transport perishable goods such as food and medical supplies.

In general, transport refrigeration technicians:

  • assemble and install refrigeration and heating components such as motors, compressors and gauges,
  • measure and cut piping, and connect piping,
  • read wiring diagrams, and install and calibrate related controls,
  • test lines to detect leaks,
  • recharge systems with refrigerant and perform routine maintenance checks,
  • service and repair diesel engines and related parts,
  • repair and replace parts and components and overhaul entire refrigeration systems, and
  • maintain a safe and clean working environment.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Transport refrigeration technicians normally work 40 hours a week on a year-round basis but may be required to work overtime for emergency repairs. They sometimes work in cold, cramped conditions.

There may be some risk of injury involved in working with electricity, high-pressure gases, hazardous gases, and chemicals.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy problem-solving in a variety of tasks with little supervision, in a stable work environment.

To be successful in their trade, transport refrigeration technicians must have:

  • mechanical ability and interest,
  • computer skills for diagnosis and reference tasks,
  • the strength, stamina, and ability to use proper lifting techniques to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms,
  • good coordination and manual dexterity, and
  • the ability to work well with co-workers and deal with customers.


Employment and Advancement

Transport refrigeration technicians are employed by dealers, large transport companies, independent repair shops and organizations such as food wholesalers that operate their own fleet of transport vehicles, and firms specializing in transport refrigeration maintenance and repair work.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally start at $30 an hour, plus benefits.

Experienced transport refrigeration technicians, particularly those in large organizations, may advance to supervisory positions.


Working in Alberta

To work as a transport refrigeration technician in Alberta, a person must:

  • be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential, OR
  • work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
  • be self-employed.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a transport refrigeration technician is 3 periods (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each period.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Transport Refrigeration Technician trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative toll-free at any 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a transport refrigeration technician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice transport refrigeration technicians earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first period, 75 percent in the second, and 90 percent in the third period.
  • complete all program requirements as identified in the Course Outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required (See Exam Counselling Sheets)
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The transport refrigeration technician trade does not participate in the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available Resource Materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.