Refrigeration units on trucks, commonly referred to as reefers, play an important role in moving produce, milk and other temperature-sensitive products. Variances of just a few degrees can mean the difference in sending a truckload of fresh food to a retailer and delivering a load of spoiled merchandise. Reefers rely on compression units and diesel engines, so you need to be well-versed in both operations to work on the trailers.
Get Entry-Level Experience
Diesel and refrigeration mechanics often get their start doing basic mechanical work on large trailers and trucks. Learning hands-on, entry-level skills can prepare you for the training and apprenticeship programs available to potential refrigeration mechanics. Try to find work in the industry while in school or during your training to develop the knowledge you’ll need to use the tools of the trade and get a grasp on basic mechanical skills.
Register for Coursework
You can find diesel mechanics training programs through a number of private, commercial training centers or local colleges. For example, the College of Alameda offers a Diesel Mechanics program that prepares you to work in the field first as an apprentice and then as a California-state certified journeyman once the program is completed. Private schools, such as the Universal Technical Institute train you to become Master Certified by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, a designation recognized nationwide.
Upgrade Your Current Skills
If you have the skills and certification to work on diesel trucks, but need to upgrade your knowledge of refrigeration trailers, take an online course or attend a school that offers short courses in refrigeration. For example, training companies such as American Trainco offer a two-day seminar for mechanical engineers who need additional training in the elements of refrigeration. Continuing education courses also could be appropriate for HVAC workers looking to move into the mobile refrigeration field.
Seek Training Through Your Employer
Working for a company such as Carrier that manufactures refrigeration units puts you in a position to get paid training at company-owned facilities. To land a position at a refrigeration manufacturer, start with an associate’s degree in mechanics or cite your entry-level mechanical experience on your application. Once you land a job, seek certification, such as that offered by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, to enhance your skills and job prospects.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."