HVAC Engineer

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HVAC systems are essential components in modern buildings, and the people who design these are HVAC engineers.

HVAC engineers deal with various aspects of these systems, working in close contact with construction engineers.

Further, they must be knowledgeable of local, state, and federal building codes and regulations.

This just goes to show that HVAC engineers will have to consider many aspects when designing the HVAC system to fit client needs.

Let’s take an extensive look at what an HVAC engineer does and other important information about this career.

Scope of Work of an HVAC Engineer

An HVAC engineer’s main responsibility is to design an appropriate optimal climate control system.

This will depend on 2 factors:

  • Assessment results of the building occupants’ needs
  • Type of structure and purpose to design

During the designing process, you’ll consider and arrange the following:

  • System details and the use of blueprints or other schemes
  • Equipment to use
  • Value estimate for construction
  • Supervise the system installation process according to the building codes
  • Follow all safety regulations
  • Meet with inspection organizations and clients
    Test the system performance at every stage of completion

Aside from this, you’ll also inspect existing HVAC systems and suggest performance improvements if any.

Essential Skills for an HVAC Engineer

Some essential skills of the sought-after HVAC engineers are prevailing in other subareas.

The following skills play a significant role in how well you can perform the job:

  • Creative potential
  • Efficient communicating skills
  • Aptitude for mathematics
  • Mechanically apt
  • Ability to solve problems
  • Ability to understand power optimization
  • Proficiency in computer software

Job Outlook of the HVAC Engineer Profession

The Bureau of Labor Statistics sees a positive outlook for the mechanical engineering field, of which HVAC engineers are a part of.

As of May 2021, the employment level will increase by 7%, creating an average of 20,200 job openings every year until 2030.

The growing demand for HVAC engineers lies for the following reasons:

  • Further development in alternative energy sources and investments in green energy solutions
  • More construction and renovation projects, including retrofitting

So as to not get left behind, you’re encouraged to enhance and gain a deeper knowledge of these areas.

In this way, you can gain a foothold over others in this competitive job market.

Potential Salary of an HVAC Engineer

One of the factors that affect salary is years of experience.

Below, you’ll find how much you can expect to earn from being an entry-level to an expert HVAC engineer.

Experience LevelYears of ExperienceAverage Annual Salary
Entry-levelLess than 1 year$61,032
Early career1 to 4 years$64,992
Mid-career5 to 9 years$78,242
Late career10 to 19 years$81,243
Experienced20 years and above$91,349

Salary information retrieved from Payscale as of July 2022

Meanwhile, the data below shows the top paying states for HVAC engineers.

StateAverage Annual Salary

Salary information retrieved from Talent.com as of July 2022

Steps to Becoming an HVAC Engineer

There’s no one way to become an HVAC engineer.

The steps listed below show one of the paths you can take toward this career.

Step 1 – Obtain a High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

As an aspiring HVAC engineer, you need math and science courses to build your foundation.

Also, you’re encouraged to partake in extracurricular activities like volunteer work for a local HVAC organization.

Regarding your grades, you should maintain a GPA of 3.0 and above.

That’s because ABET-accredited schools will prefer students with good GPAs.

Step 2 – Complete an Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering

You should obtain a degree in mechanical or HVAC engineering or complete a similar program.

Both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs include courses in…

  • Airflow and balancing
  • Pumps and piping systems
  • Energy calculations
  • Air handling equipment
  • Electrical load computation
  • Psychometric analysis

If you want to be a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), enroll in a school accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Step 3 – Acquire Entry-level Experience

With high competition in the mechanical engineering field, it’s recommended that you look for work opportunities to practice your skills.

One option you can take is to apply for an HVAC apprenticeship program.

In the apprenticeship program, you will accumulate practical hours to prepare for the qualifying exam.

Optional – Obtain a Graduate Degree in Engineering

After some time, you may decide to pursue other relevant degrees.

For example, you can study for a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with HVAC courses.

License and Certification

HVAC engineers can choose to get a PE license.

To earn it, you must have relevant experience in the area for at least 4 years.

Aside from that, you can also pursue specialty certifications through these organizations:

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
  • Associated Air Balance Council
  • Association for Facilities Engineering
  • Green Building Certification Institute
  • National Fire Prevention Association

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