HVAC Engineer: Job Info & Career Requirements

HVAC engineers play an important role in the building industry, ensuring proper climate control of homes, office buildings, and other facilities. Learn about the duties, training requirements, employment outlook and salary to decide if you want to pursue this profession.

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Career Definition for an HVAC Engineer

An HVAC engineer's job duties can include the design, installation, maintenance, and repair of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, cooling, and refrigeration systems. HVAC engineers can design systems for residential, industrial, institutional, and commercial buildings, including schools, office buildings, and health care facilities. They may meet directly with clients, work with engineering colleagues like management, installers and repair technicians, design new systems or find solutions for existing system problems, and prepare estimates. These professionals can work for consulting or design firms, government agencies, facilities offices, or HVAC equipment sales offices.

Education Bachelor's degree required
Job Skills Problem solving, computer and communication skills, CAD software training, attention to detail
Median Salary (2015)* $83,590 for mechanical engineers
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for mechanical engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Entry-level HVAC engineer jobs usually require a bachelor's degree in HVAC engineering technology, mechanical engineering, or architectural engineering. Some states or localities may require licensing for HVAC engineering professionals. HVAC engineers can also obtain professional certification through the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers in a sub-specialty like health care facility design, high performance building design, operations and performance management, and commissioning process management. Students of HVAC engineering programs study HVAC theory and application, advanced math, physics, HVAC system analysis and design, mechanical engineering, and computer aided design.

Skills Required

HVAC engineers need solid problem solving skills to ensure the heating, cooling, refrigeration, and ventilation systems meet the needs of the people using them. Additionally, HVAC engineers need computer and communication skills, CAD software training, and a strong attention to detail.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median annual salary for mechanical engineers, including HVAC engineers, was $83,590 as of May 2015. Although the employment prospects during the 2014-2024 decade for HVAC mechanics and installers is expected to be very good, with 14% growth projected, the outlook for mechanical engineers is slower, with only a 5% increase in employment opportunities predicted.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some other potential engineering careers to look into:

Sales Engineer

With a bachelor's degree in a field related to engineering, along with an understanding of the technology involved in their services and products, these engineers sell complex products to businesses. Average employment growth of 7% was forecast by the BLS for the 2014-2024 decade, and an annual median wage of $97,650 was reported for sales engineers in 2015.

Petroleum Engineer

Designing and developing ways to extract gas and oil from below the surface of the earth, these engineers normally have a bachelor's degree in petroleum, chemical or mechanical engineering. Job prospects should be very good from 2014-2024, with faster than average growth of 10% predicted by the BLS. According to that same source, the median salary for petroleum engineers in 2015 was $129,990 per year.

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