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AC Engineer: Career Profile

Air conditioning (AC) engineers require some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Air conditioning engineers are concerned about internal climate control and are responsible for the air quality of homes and businesses. Ideally an AC engineer would be mechanically minded and have an interest in maintaining a comfortable climate.

Essential Information

Individuals who are interested in climate control and mechanical work may want to consider a career as an air conditioning (AC) engineer or technician. AC engineers are responsible for maintaining the air quality of homes and buildings. They may complete a formal education program or an apprenticeship to enter the career field, and they need licensure to work in some states.

Required Education Variable; a diploma, certificate or associate's degree in HVAC technology OR completion of an HVAC apprenticeship program
Licensure Required in some states
Projected Job Growth* 14% from 2014 - 2024 (for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers)
Median Annual Salary (May, 2015)* $45,110 (for heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

AC Engineer Career Overview

AC engineers, also known as AC technicians, install and maintain the mechanical and electrical components of air conditioning systems. They may diagnose and repair air-conditioning problems throughout homes or buildings. They may also test the performance of the cooling system with specialized tools and equipment.

AC Engineer Educational Requirements

Many employers require AC engineers to hold diplomas or certificates in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Vocational and technical schools offer HVAC diploma and certificate programs, and the programs typically take less than two years to complete. Coursework in an HVAC program may cover subjects such as building codes, electricity, heating systems, refrigeration and air conditioning. Some schools provide students with hands-on work opportunities. As an alternative to a educational program, aspiring AC engineers may prepare for this career by completing 3-5 years of apprenticeship training.

Other Requirements

In some states, AC engineers are required to be licensed, which entails formal training and passage of an exam. AC engineers typically work a full-time work week with opportunities for overtime during the summer season. Prospective AC engineers must have good mechanical skills and an understanding of basic technical math and science as well as the willingness to work for long periods of time in uncomfortable environments. AC engineers typically must be in decent physical shape, because some jobs require heavy lifting, bending and fitting into small spaces.

Career Outlook and Salary Information for AC Engineers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC technicians, including AC engineers, earned a median annual salary of $45,110 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). Employment in the field was expected to grow 14% from 2014-2024, much faster than the average for other occupations. Demand for these positions is present all over the nation; however, people in areas with higher average temperatures may need their air conditioning systems repaired and maintained more often than those in cooler climates.

Air conditioning engineers need formal schooling, licensure and hands-on experience before they're ready to head out on their own. Once there, you'll need to demonstrate your capacity for solving mechanical problems related to air conditioning and showcase your passion for maintaining superior air quality and a comfortable internal climate.


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