Essential workers are workers in industries that are crucial for supporting public health and safety and community well-being during the COVID-19 crisis. They have a “special responsibility in these times to continue operations.”1 That’s why essential workers are still out working, instead of sheltering-in-place like much of the country.2
When you think about all the ways refrigeration technicians keep Americans healthy and safe, it’s easy to see why they made the list of essential workers.1
Beyond keeping the food cases at grocery stores cold, refrigeration techs play a vital role in the medical industry and the supply chain for agriculture-based foods.3
Read on to learn more about how refrigeration technicians are essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and likely will remain so for years to come.
What’s an Essential Worker?
The Essential Services Act of 2013 states that an essential worker is a worker whose job involves protecting property or human life. The legislation was introduced to help government agencies determine which workers are essential during budget cuts.4
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But that was 2013. What about the “list of essential workers” now during the COVID-19 pandemic?
On April 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) published the “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list.1
The list identifies workers whose jobs are usually essential to the successful operation of critical infrastructure. It includes workers who maintain and repair critical infrastructure and support vital supply chains. Workers in the medical and healthcare, food and agriculture, information technology systems and public works sectors were deemed essential.1
Why Refrigeration Technicians Made the List of Essential Workers
CISA’s list of essential workers includes “workers distributing, servicing, repairing, installing residential and commercial HVAC systems, boilers, furnaces and other heating, cooling, refrigeration and ventilation equipment.”1
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies such workers as heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers. These workers are often called “HVACR technicians.” They install, maintain and repair the heating, ventilation, cooling and refrigeration systems responsible for keeping indoor temperatures comfortable and air quality high.5
It’s not uncommon in this industry for workers to specialize in one type of equipment.5 Those who work primarily with commercial refrigeration are known as refrigeration technicians, or commercial refrigeration technicians.6
The Important Role of Refrigeration Techs in Public Health and Safety
When you go to the grocery store to pick up milk or eggs, you have refrigeration technicians to thank. They install, maintain and repair the refrigeration systems that make the safe transport and storage of food possible.5 Fish, meat, poultry, fruits and dairies—they all need to be kept cold to stay fresh and safe to eat.7
Food isn’t the only essential item that requires refrigeration. The pharmaceutical industry relies on sophisticated refrigeration systems to keep storage units and rooms at precise temperatures. This is because the strains of microbiological species used for medicine production must be stored in extremely controlled conditions, typically at low temperatures.7
While not essential, beer is also dependent on refrigeration. Breweries need several refrigeration systems both to facilitate the chemical and biological reactions that must occur during beer production and to preserve the beverage afterward.7
How Refrigeration Training Prepares Essential Workers
While it’s clear refrigeration technicians are essential workers, how do you become one?
Refrigeration training can be part of the refrigeration technician career path because the equipment has become increasingly complex. This is one reason employers typically prefer applicants with formal training from a postsecondary institution, such as a trade school.8
A refrigeration training program, like the Refrigeration Technologies program at RSI, can prepare students to become refrigeration technicians by providing instruction in key subjects and hands-on training in necessary skills:
- Fundamentals of electricity
- Residential and commercial comfort systems
- Fundamentals of refrigeration
- Refrigeration systems and practices
- Advanced troubleshooting
Trade school refrigeration programs may also prepare students for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s technician certification, which is required for handling refrigerants.8
Refrigeration Technicians: The Essential Workers of Tomorrow
Refrigeration technicians play a crucial role in keeping refrigeration equipment running in restaurants, grocery stores, hotels, manufacturing plants and more.6
Supporting these industries helps keep the public safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis, making refrigeration technicians essential workers.1
But if you imagine a world without refrigeration, it’s easy to see why the technology will probably be necessary for years to come, along with the technicians to service it.
This means refrigeration technicians will likely be essential workers in the future, and may be one reason the BLS predicts much faster than average job growth (13%) for them through 2028.9
If you’re interested in joining the ranks of America’s essential workers, contact The Refrigeration School today to learn more about its refrigeration training programs. Call 1 (888) 671-5803.
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