Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

In 1882 the first refrigerated shipment of frozen meat left New Zealand for Britain. That's just one example of how the technology this industry supports has transformed our country's economy.

Careers information

What does it involve?

Refrigeration and air conditioning engineers manufacture, install and maintain the components used in air conditioning and refrigeration systems. These systems provide a climate-controlled environment so it's possible to store and transport perishable items such as food and medicine. 

Your work environment can change one day to the next from a shipping container to an apartment block.

Typical day

Normally an 8-hour day; sometimes working longer maybe required. Work can include;

  • installing split system air conditioning;
  • ventilation and air conditioning engineering (fabricating, installing and maintaining systems in office buildings, hospitals and factories); and
  • refrigeration engineering in warehouses, ships, containers and trucks.

You are likely to work in many different locations from day to day.


How could I get into the industry

Does this sound like you?

Study areas

Attributes Helpful experience Preferred work environments
  • English or Media Studies or History
  • Maths or Accounting or Economics 
  • Sciences or Workshop Technologies 
  • Computing / ICT / Information Management
  • Good literacy and numeracy 
  • Confidence with IT, computers, technology 
  • Good work habits/time management
  • Good at problem solving / creative
  • Analysing, researching or problem solving
  • Making or fixing things
  • Working with machinery
  • Working with computers
  • Inside (workshop or plant)
  • Different places time to time

How much could I earn?

  • Newly qualified

    $41k- $73k

Career pathway

School Entry level jobs Advancing jobs Senior jobs

Ideally, NCEA Level 2 passes in:


  • Maths
  • Science (Physics)
  • Technology (Metal Work)
  • English




  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
  • Engineer
  • Air Conditioning Systems Designer
  • Industrial Refrigeration Engineer
  • Commercial Refrigeration Engineer
  • Transport Refrigeration Engineer


  • Specialist Engineer
  • Supervisor


  • Foreman
  • Site Supervisor
  • Business Manager
  • Business Owner


 Unit/Achievement standards in schools  Apprenticeship  Higher learning  Higher learning

For more information

Careers NZ website