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Air Conditioning Engineer: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Learn about a career as an air conditioning engineer. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for an Air Conditioning Engineer

Air conditioning engineers support, maintain and help design air conditioning systems, often for large and complex buildings like factories. According to the Whole Building Design Guide, an air conditioning engineer may also be referred to as a type of mechanical engineer of record. Air conditioning engineers primarily address seven topics: heating, cooling, humidifying, dehumidifying, cleaning, ventilating and effectiveness, according to the Whole Building Design Guide. Engineers are key contributors to a project in its developing stages, providing information on the requirements and feasibility of a project, as well as the resulting costs.

Education Bachelor's degree usually required
Job Skills Attention to safety, manual dexterity, problem solving, knowledge of complex air systems
Median Salary (2017)* $85,880 for mechanical engineers
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 9% for mechanical engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

Almost all air conditioning engineers are required to hold a bachelor's degree in mechanical or stationary engineering, which may be earned in 4-5 years. Courses may include refrigeration, calculus, air conditioning, instrumentation and fluid mechanics. There are a few specialized programs offered through engineering or vocational schools that can award a student with an engineering diploma or certificate in the field. Students are encouraged to choose an educational institution that has been accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). An award from ABET schools is typically required to become a licensed, professional mechanical engineer.

Air conditioning engineers must be licensed through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying. This includes passage of the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam and, after gaining approximately four years of experience, the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam. Air conditioning engineers also must be certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work with refrigerants. Some states may require additional certification.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that air conditioning engineers have the following traits:

  • Safety-oriented personality, since they may work with dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration
  • Ability to perform precise calculations when installing or evaluating systems and determining moisture control
  • Manual dexterity
  • Knowledge about complex air conditioning systems
  • Problem-solving skills

Employment and Salary Outlook

Statistics provided by the BLS indicated that future job growth for air conditioning engineers might remain steady, since employment growth for mechanical engineers was estimated to grow 9% from 2016-2026. The median salary for mechanical engineers was $85,880 in May 2017, according to the BLS.

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