Refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) technicians are Australia’s highest earning tradies earning more than $83k annually.

According to the latest SEEK data tradies are earning above average salaries, which are much higher than what first year university graduates earn in today’s workforce.

SEEK found that air-conditioning and refrigeration technicians earn, on average, $83,278 annually, closely followed by electricians who earn $82,782 and fitters, turners and machinists who make $79,170 a year.

Not only are RAC technicians the highest earners they also topped salary growth with pay rises topping 7.7% since 2016.  That is a substantial increase compared to other professions which are not only stagnant but going backwards.

The SEEK data found that RAC salaries have gone against most workforce trends with many industries flat-lining when it came to wages, another exception is boiler makers who have seen salaries rise 7.3% over the same period.

There is such a lack of awareness about the opportunities available to refrigeration and air conditioning technicians that the job is often overlooked by school leavers, according to Kevin O’Shea, the president of the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (RACCA.

He said there are so many advantages to choosing a trade over a university degree.

“The advantage of trade is that with four years of learning the trade, you’re actually getting paid, whereas if you go to university, it’s costing you either by HECS or private fees," he said.

CCN’s Tradie of the Year Award winner, Robert Gruis, said being a RAC technician is a great career choice.

“We need to raise the profile of the trade because most people outside of the industry haven’t even heard of it which is why we have such a shortage of tradespeople,” Gruis said.

One way to address the shortage is to diversify the workforce by attracting more women to the trade. Woman of the Year in HVACR Award winner, Jenny Smith, said it is also a career in high demand.

“The scope of HVACR is huge and we need more women in this space as we think differently which is great for diversity of ideas,” she said.


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