Apprenticeships decorative banner

Occupational profile - heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR)

Information on apprenticeships in the heating and ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry, including what’s involved, skills and knowledge needed and progression routes for apprentices.

Heating and ventilation

Heating and ventilating installers install, maintain and repair central heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

They work on large-scale equipment including boilers, tanks and large pipes.

The modern heating and ventilation technician is at the forefront of technology (design, development, testing, installation, maintenance) associated with low carbon targets, energy conservation and renewable supply.

Air conditioning and refrigeration

There are two routes to qualification and apprentices must choose one:

  • air conditioning
  • refrigeration

The refrigeration air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) engineering technician is a specialist occupation.

It involves planning, preparing and safely carrying out work activities in process, product and space cooling.

Knowledge must be transferable between any of the core activities of refrigeration, air conditioning or heat pumping.

The work is carried out in a variety of applications essential for key UK business activities such as:

  • food production
  • product distribution
  • retail storage and display
  • transport and office climate control
  • manufacturing processes (such as petrochemical, pharmaceutical)
  • IT/ datacentres and medical/healthcare services temperature and environmental control

Key activities include the design, installation, routine maintenance, reactive service, commissioning and de-commissioning of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump systems.

Technicians require a thorough competency in their understanding of the engineering principles of thermodynamics and the vapour compression cycle in order to perform operations.

A fully competent technician works without immediate supervision and liaises effectively with other trades and end users.

Environmental, legislation and technology changes mean that the requirements for technicians in this sector are constantly evolving.

European and UK safety and environmental legislation are key drivers in rapid technology changes in the sector which is responsible for an estimated 10 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions and 16 per cent of electricity use.

RACHP engineering technicians have important responsibilities for the safety of themselves, work colleagues and the general public as well as minimising the environmental impact of cooling systems.

Common features

There is significant crossover between the main industries within the heating ventilation air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) sectors.

The HVACR sector embraces technical operations and projects relevant to the installation, servicing and maintenance, in industrial and commercial properties, of:

  • heating
  • ventilation
  • air conditioning
  • refrigeration
  • heat recovery
  • energy management
  • hot and cold water systems
  • fire prevention and protection
  • pipework service and maintenance

Directly associated with these operations and projects are occupation areas which are specific to HVACR sector which include:

  • installing, maintaining and servicing heating and ventilating systems
  • commissioning heating and ventilating systems
  • installing and commissioning ductwork and pipework systems
  • installing, maintaining and commissioning air conditioning systems
  • installing, maintaining and commissioning refrigeration systems

The HVACR sector is increasingly carrying out a wider range of tasks and projects, which include:

  • principal contractors on construction engineering projects such as shopping and entertainment complexes, sports stadiums, hospitals, hotels and office blocks
  • controlled building management systems – heating; air conditioning; refrigeration; environmental control
  • complex installations in buildings and structures for commercial, industrial, recreational and transport purposes
  • design, construction, installation and maintenance of building services for complex industrial manufacturing and processing

Core skills and knowledge

On completion of the requirements in this framework, you should, as a minimum, have the core skills and core knowledge needed to carry out the following in a safe and competent manner:

Core skills and knowledge Heating and ventilation Air conditioning and refrigeration

Apply health and safety and environmental legislation in the building services engineering sector

Yes Yes

Establish and maintain relationships in the building services engineering sector

Yes Yes

Coordinate a work site in the building services engineering sector

Yes Yes

Perform electrical work on mechanical building services systems

Yes Yes

Install and test industrial and commercial heating and ventilating pipework systems

Yes  

Inspect and pre-commission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

Yes  

Commission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

Yes  

Decommission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

Yes  

Weld industrial and commercial heating and ventilating pipework

Yes  

Install air conditioning and heat pump systems

  Yes

Service and maintain air conditioning and heat pump systems

  Yes

Decommission air conditioning and heat pump systems

  Yes

Commission air conditioning and heat pump systems

  Yes

You should also be able to:

  • apply professional judgement and support 
  • challenge unsafe behaviours/activities
  • demonstrate innovation through the identification of areas for improvement and suggestion and/or development of innovative solutions
  • identify and manage risks to self and others
  • keep work area clean and tidy
  • manage own time effectively
  • think logically and accordance with the demands of the situation using clear and valid reasoning when making decisions to undertake the work instructions
  • work effectively individually and in a team
  • work in accordance with quality requirements
  • work productively
  • work safely and ensure the safety of others
  • work within own level of competence and know when to seek advice from others

Core behaviours

Throughout the apprenticeship process you should, as a minimum, develop and display the following behaviours:

  • assertive
  • confident
  • dressed appropriately
  • empathetic
  • fair
  • honest
  • proactive
  • productive
  • punctual
  • reliable
  • respectful (in terms of equality, diversity and inclusion)

Transversal skills

You will gain the following transversal skills:

Self-management

Accept responsibility for self.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • do what has to be done without having to be told
  • work unsupervised
  • react appropriately to situations
  • be open to new processes and situations

Working with others

Work collaboratively both internally and with external customers and an awareness of independence.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • understand and provide customer service as it applies to role both internally and externally
  • empathise with others’ points of view

Citizenship/ taking part in society

Understand and be considerate of the differing needs of different individuals and groups.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • engage with individuals with different backgrounds and needs
  • show respect for the environment

Problem solving and decision making

Weigh up the pros and cons of new situations and identify key issues.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • approach a problem from different perspectives
  • come up with unique responses to situations

Numeracy

Use data and arithmetic to support evidence or demonstrate a point.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • analyse data
  • understand charts, graphs and statistical information

Digital literacy

Find, evaluate, use, share, and create content using information technologies and the Internet.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • format, organise and manage files and data

Communication and literacy

Use verbal, non-verbal and written communication and an awareness of the interpersonal skills of effective listening, negotiating, persuasion and presentation.

Typical performance evidence at intermediate/ advanced will show you:

  • engage persuasively using agreement and challenge
  • understand when to compromise

Progression

After you complete this framework, you have a number of progression options including:

  • vocational: develop self in the role and seek promotion 
  • academic: use the qualifications gained as the basis for further study and entry to further or higher education as appropriate
  • combination of vocational and academic: study part-time while still working this may be as part of a structured higher level apprenticeship (HLA) if this is relevant/available

Example of vocational progression

On successful completion of this apprenticeship you should be able to progress your career to such job roles as:

  • building services engineering technician
  •  facilities management technician
  • designer/estimator 
  • project manager
  • site/works hop manager
  • sales engineer/ commercial manager

Continuous learning will be expected of the qualified candidates to maintain awareness of the regulations impacting on the industry and technological changes/advances.

You can also choose to get further qualifications which could lead to membership of a professional body and a career in electrical or electronic engineering, such as do an HNC/ HND, a higher level vocational qualification or study for a degree.

It's expected that successful candidates will progress within the HVACR industries in qualified positions such as employed or self-employed, supervisors or managers.

National occupational standards

Every framework must be underpinned by national occupational standards (NOS) which will show the standards of performance you must achieve when carrying out functions in the workplace, together with specifications of the underpinning knowledge and understanding. Behaviours may be detailed within or alongside the NOS.

Pathways can be displayed by splitting NOS into core and optional depending on the occupational profile.

Pathway one: heating and ventilation

Core NOS

Unique Registration Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

BSEBSE01

Apply health and safety and environmental legislation in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE02

Establish and maintain relationships in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE03

Coordinate a work site in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE04

Perform electrical work on mechanical building services systems

BSEHV04

Install and Test Industrial and Commercial Heating and Ventilating Pipework Systems

BSEHV06

Inspect and pre-commission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

BSEHV07

Commission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

BSEHV08

Decommission industrial and commercial heating and ventilating systems

BSEHV10

Weld industrial and commercial heating and ventilating pipework

Pathway two: air conditioning

Core NOS

Unique Registration Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

BSEBSE01

Apply health and safety and environmental legislation in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE02

Establish and maintain relationships in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE03

Coordinate a work site in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE04

Perform electrical work on mechanical building services systems

BSERAC08

Install air conditioning and heat pump systems

BSERAC09

Service and maintain air conditioning and heat pump systems

BSERAC10

Decommission air conditioning and heat pump systems

BSERAC11

Commission air conditioning and heat pump systems

Pathway three: refrigeration

Core NOS

Unique Registration Number (URN) Title of the occupational standard

BSEBSE01

Apply health and safety and environmental legislation in the building services engineering sector

 

BSEBSE02

Establish and maintain relationships in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE03

Coordinate a work site in the building services engineering sector

BSEBSE04

Perform electrical work on mechanical building services systems

BSERAC04

Install refrigeration systems

BSERAC05

Service and maintain refrigeration systems

BSERAC06

Decommission refrigeration systems

BSERAC07

Commission refrigeration systems

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) section, then for queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.