What is it like training as an apprentice?
A Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump (RACHP) Engineering Technician apprentice is involved in planning, preparing and safely carrying out work activities in the cooling of things when they are made or stored or the building environment where people and activities are carried out. They may work in a variety of different places each day, carrying out work essential for activities such as food production, frozen product distribution, supermarkets and cafes, trucks, ships, warehouses and offices, manufacturing processes (e.g. factories, petrochemical, pharmaceutical), IT/datacentres and healthcare services such as operating theatres or blood storage facilities. They might work on a building site one day or in a shop or office the next - there is a huge variety of different types of work involved when you are an apprentice and you have to like being out and about a lot of the time and meeting and working with different people.
The kinds of activities that apprentices do include the design, installation, maintenance checking to make sure it's working properly, reactive service when something is faulty, checking new systems are ready to be switched on (commissioning) and removing old equipment no longer used safely.
Apprentices will work under supervision and training for three years to become qualified as an Engineering Technician. During their apprenticeship they will learn all about how to use engineering principles of thermodynamics and vapour compression for cooling the areas that people are in, as well as products or processes at a college for one day a week, as well as being supervised in the working environment the rest of the time.
Once they have gained their Apprenticeship certificate and become a fully qualified Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Technician they will work without immediate supervision, often all over the country as a mobile technician and possibly travelling overseas. They will also have to work as part of project teams with other technical professions such as building managers, health and safety personnel, equipment manufacturers, consultants and site owners. Apprentices can apply for recognition with the Engineering Council UK as an Engineering Technician (EngTech).
Key features of Refrigeration Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Engineering Technician Apprenticeship Programmes in the UK
- 3-year programme funded by Government & Employer
- 1/5th of the time spent in off-the-job training (e.g. at college)
- Apprentices collect evidence of work experience and record it in their journal
- Final exam includes a 2-3 day practical observed task, a multiple-choice theory test and a professional interview
- Leads to a nationally recognised Level 3 Apprenticeship Certificate
Is this right for me?
Would you make a good Apprentice or Engineering Technician? Try our interactive career finder quiz to see what type of job in refrigeration and air conditioning would be the best fit for you.
What's the work like?
See a day in the life of Ian Fisher, Air Conditioning efficiency expert to find out what a typical day is like, or view career profiles of people working in the industry now.
What should I do now?
First stop - contact your local technical college to find out more about their Apprenticeship programmes. The Government has a website which you can search to see a list of RACHP apprenticeship vacancies with employers in your area:
Search for apprenticeship vacancies now