Working in the HVAC industry can be a great move. The industry is evolving at a pace that is much faster than other trades. This is primarily due to the changes in technology that make the systems more intricate and diversified. With this particular career option gaining immense popularity, the salaries of HVAC Engineers are increasing as well. They are anyhow needed when a new property is being constructed or goes under maintenance.
So, in this guide, we will take a look at what are the roles and responsibilities of an HVAC Engineer, how much money do HVAC Engineers make, what kind of HVAC jobs are available, and the skills you need to become an HVAC Engineer.
Who Is an HVAC Engineer?
As an HVAC engineer, your responsibility is to design, manufacture and test the HVAC and the refrigeration systems. However, you might also have to work on inspection, installation, general cleaning, as well as maintenance jobs. It is a great career choice if you can give your best in troubleshooting technical problems with an innovative bent of mind. You get to apply the know-how of math, physics, and engineering into real-world applications.
It might not be as one of the most stressful professions. But the work is physically demanding, and working in tight, dark, and dirty spaces can pose several mental and physical challenges. It is a mechanical field where you might have irregular working hours.
HVAC engineers can be self-employed or work for a servicing company depending on the job or personal preferences. You could be assigned a particular worksite the entire day or attend several service calls in a single day – such a variation may always remain.
HVAC Engineer vs. HVAC Technician
It is a common misconception that the person attending a job site, your home, for instance, is an HVAC engineer. However, in most cases, this person inspecting your air conditioning unit will be a technician. The terms are often used interchangeably, but it is important to note that there is a substantial difference between the two. So, this is what differentiates HVAC engineers from HVAC technicians:
HVAC engineers are more likely to manage and supervise the design as well as the installation process of HVAC systems. These professionals attend the customer calls, discuss their system requirements, manage the budget, prepare the blueprint for the equipment, and plan updates to the older ones. Basically, HVAC engineers are responsible for designing, developing, testing, as well as building the HVAC systems. These may include mechanical as well as thermal devices, tools, sensors, machinery and more.
HVAC engineers may also keep interacting with the technicians either to troubleshoot system issues or to handle any other specifics. So, an HVAC engineer deals with the actual design as well as the construction of the system.
HVAC technicians, on the other hand, are more hands-on. They specialize in the installation, fixing, maintenance as well as troubleshooting tasks of the HVAC systems. While they may possess an understanding similar to that of an engineer, employers may still provide them with jobs based on a degree or certificate. They can undoubtedly opt for higher formal education, but a 2-year associate’s degree is more than enough. Moreover, they do not have a significant role in designing the systems.
How to Become an HVAC Engineer?
How does one go about becoming a successful HVAC engineer? Here are the necessary skills and steps required. We will also discuss these in detail:
Skills: Proficiency in mathematics
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, or a related field
Certification: Being licensed as per the state laws
Here are these in detail:
To become an HVAC engineer, you must possess the high physical stamina to complete the tasks on the job site. Your daily work might involve supporting or lifting heavy equipment and standing right on your feet all day. So, this is the foremost requirement.
Apart from this, you must have a mathematical aptitude as well as mechanical know-how. Troubleshooting skills, time-management and being attentive to even the minutest detail are a few more skills mandatory to perform your duties adequately. These are necessary for you to catch hold of the issues and fix those without causing a delay. You are better able to keep a record of the work you perform each day, understand complex systems, and answer the service calls promptly.
You must be capable of providing unmatched customer service to excel to greater heights. When you are positive in your approach is when you get more contracts and maintain a loyal customer base. Unhappy customers can lead to a decline in their growth rate and also mean more faulty equipment or systems.
Education and Training
When it comes to the educational qualifications as well as the relevant training, here are the requirements that entitle you for the job of an HVAC engineer:
Depending on your employer or state regulations, the educational requirements may vary. But in general, HVAC engineers either need to hold a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or a nationally recognized apprenticeship certification.
University education is getting essential more than ever since the industry is evolving, and an engineer must be clear with their basics. Therefore, it is quite common for employers to ask for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
One of the nationally registered apprenticeship programs is the United Association (UA) apprenticeship that lasts for about five years and provides training on heating, cooling, as well as refrigeration. In this program, the apprentices have the opportunity to receive an associate’s degree in addition to their paid training.
What More Options Do You Have?
Even before a contract or job opportunity lands on your hands, you have to literally earn it. How? Equip yourself with the required know-how! Community colleges or universities and trade or vocational schools help you prepare for the same. And, it is always a good idea to first clear your basics with classroom training so you can apply the logic later in your job in real-time.
While vocational programs are open to high school students, community colleges offer programs such as an Associate of Applied Science in HVAC Engineering and universities offer programs such as a B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering Technology.
Moreover, depending upon the institutional facility or the program, your specialization (residential or commercial) may vary. HVAC training may have all of these or a combination of these with others – physics, chemistry, and engineering along with hands-on practice.
Not all, but some states or districts do make it mandatory for HVAC engineers to obtain a license before they can start working as one. However, entry-level to senior-level optional certification is also available through unions as well as the associations by passing a mandatory exam.
Types of Jobs
There are a variety of HVAC engineering jobs available in the industry. However, each one can be categorized into these three major roles:
This profile requires you to take over the design as well as the mechanics of the HVAC systems. If you choose to be a design engineer, you will work on creating newer systems right from scratch or redesigning the unit as per their functional enhancements. You would spend the majority of your time inside the office, preparing the blueprints. For this, you would have to equip yourself to use the CAD (computer-aided drawing) systems. On the other hand, you would even find yourself working closely with HVAC technicians and system control engineers. You can easily envision yourself around blueprints, CAD presentations, and HVAC systems.
Sales HVAC engineers invest a lot of time in fostering their relationship with the construction businesses that fulfill their requirements. The duties under this profile do not just limit to selling goods and services but also assisting other engineers in gaining approvals for the types of equipment or parts which are going to be used during the designing process.
Control system HVAC engineers possess an entirely different set of skills than the design or sales engineers. They are responsible for designing the control components working alongside a design engineer. If you want to be one of them, your responsibility will be to ensure that the overall design is operationally consistent.
Where Do HVAC Engineers Work?
There is a variety of work that leads to several opportunities during your employment. You may work in an HVAC firm; however, each task can turn out to be a piece of a giant puzzle. You could be a design engineer found working at an architectural firm alongside a senior architect to assure that the designs work out well. Or, being a sales engineer, you might be working for a manufacturer that specializes in HVAC equipment.
It also isn’t rare to find an HVAC engineer stationed at a construction company to design and install their HVAC systems. This ensures timeliness and reliability, which may otherwise lack if the company contracts with a third-party service provider.
HVAC engineers can also be hired in larger engineering firms to advantage from their expertise or create systems as well as products as needed by the clients of that firm.
Salary Package of HVAC Engineers
“How much will I make” is the most common question asked when looking for a job. Salary packages are even more important when it is about trade jobs or career choices such as HVAC Engineering. This is why it is tough to put down a single figure. Each person has distinct roles and responsibilities and makes money according to their exposure as well as expertise.
The consensus, however, seems to be that HVAC engineers make somewhat between $47,000 and $95,000 a year. This, obviously, depends on their aptitude, specialization, seniority level, geographical factors and more. The type of job that you take up also dictates the pay scale you will be offered.
Things to Consider If You Enter the HVAC Industry
We want to stress on a few important points if you are willing to start in the HVAC industry as engineers:
Zero-energy buildings are getting immensely popular, and every HVAC engineer must put efforts into increasing efficiency as well as bringing about a new era into the construction industry. So, focus on reducing carbon emission.
As much as possible, try to implement the usage of environmental-friendly materials, substances, and products that impact the environment is a much better manner.
HVC industries are continuously pushing into the innovation of smarter technologies. This way, you can focus on seamless software solutions that assure convenience in everyday life.
Summing It All Up ….
More and more investments are being made into the construction business since the last few years. The HVAC industry is increasingly changing itself to suit evolving trends. In the coming years, a fast-paced growth will induce newer job opportunities to satiate the demands and thrive in the cut-throat competitive market.
The expertise of HVAC engineers will undoubtedly prove advantageous in designing appropriate HVAC units. Most people do not appreciate the skills and knowledge that it takes to become a recognized HVAC engineer – but you are the future of the HVAC industry. It is your job that is the foundation of all other HVAC jobs.
So, we hope this guide will lead you in the right direction. Let us know if you have any more questions or suggestions. We would love to assist you through your way!