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In the field of air quality control lies the important job of designing and creating heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) components that don't only create a comfortable space for individuals, but also create a perfectly optimized and healthy space.
When using HVAC components, it is important to note that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work and is not effective. For example, the HVAC needs for a corporate space are different from that of a private space, and the air quality control that is required in a confined space would be different from that of a space that is well-ventilated and airy.
Because of these major differences and requirements for each different space, there are people who have dedicated their careers to designing and creating HVAC systems and components that are optimal for a variety of different functions. These people are known as HVAC engineers.
To become an HVAC engineer, you would first need to obtain your high school diploma or GED, you would need to earn a bachelor's degree at the very least since this is an engineering occupation, you would need to obtain the necessary certifications and licenses, and you would then need to choose an area of focus or specialty.
Let us take a deeper dive into this career path, what you would do as an HVAC engineer and the steps you'd need to take to pursue this career path.
What Is An HVAC Engineer And What Do They Do?
If you are hoping to venture into the field of engineering, there are a number of subspecialties to choose from, one of which is the field of HVAC engineering. An HVAC engineer is basically a mechanical engineer that focuses on designing HVAC systems for a variety of private and commercial applications.
In addition to having expertise in climate control and air quality control, HVAC engineers also need to have expertise in electrical and plumbing operations. However, their duties don't just start and end with designing, creating, and installing HVAC components. In fact, these engineers have the complex job of needing to fully understand aerodynamics and the way air flows and moves within a particular space.
Because each space is different, the HVAC component used in each space needs to be designed for it to be fit for purpose. A larger and open floor plan will have different requirements than a living room within a home that has furniture occupying the same space.
Aside from the items that occupy space, they also need to consider the design and shape of a space that needs an HVAC unit. In many cases, HVAC engineers are not only called on board when an HVAC unit needs to be installed, but they will be present during the entire conceptualization and construction of a space to make sure that the optimal HVAC units are used.
Additionally, they need to know how the electrical and plumbing systems of a space are laid out so that HVAC units can be placed in the optimal location that neither interferes with nor interrupts the flow of water and electrical sources.
When designing an HVAC unit, an HVAC engineer will take many variables into consideration such as the placement of the HVAC unit, the size of the space, the primary purpose of the unit, and whatever other elements need to be considered.
They make sure that the user will get the best use of the HVAC unit depending on the space, the layout, and the need that the HVAC unit is meant to fulfill, while also keeping in mind the cost considerations.
HVAC units are not only used for temperature control, but also for ventilation and air quality control, and it is up to the engineer to make sure that the unit meets each need and requirement.
Steps To Become An HVAC Engineer
Step One: Obtain Your Bachelor's Degree
Since this is a role within the field of engineering you would need to complete a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and specialize in HVAC engineering and technology. This is a very niche career path to follow, and the type of educational requirements you need is a great testament to this.
Step Two: Complete The Necessary And Required Examinations, Certifications, and Licenses
After you have completed your degree program, you may need to complete specialized examinations known as the Fundamentals in Engineering exams that allow you to qualify as an engineer in training.
You will then need to get certified as a mechanical engineer and obtain a Professional Engineering license which allows you to not only actively work on engineering projects, but to also make decisions and fulfill leadership roles on those projects as well.
Step Three: Gain Experience
Next, it is time to apply all the knowledge and skills you have learned in a real-world context. This means getting direct and hands-on experience. While you can apply for an entry-level role and work your way up the experience ladder, you could also consider applying for an apprenticeship program that will be directly related to HVAC engineering.
Step Four: Find A Specialization
While HVAC engineering is a specialized field, there is the opportunity for you to further specialize in areas such as Green Building development, Fire Prevention, Air Balance, or Facilities engineering, and for each of these specialized fields, there are association bodies with which you can register.
Additionally, if you so choose, you could also pursue a graduate degree in HVAC engineering, but this is an optional route.
What Is The Salary And Career Outlook For HVAC Engineers?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HVAC engineers, who fall under the role of mechanical engineers, earn a median annual salary of $95,300 and an hourly rate of $45.82 per hour.
Additionally, employment growth only expects to see a 2% growth over the next ten years, however, this still means that there will be an estimated average of 17,900 job openings in the field each year.
Is HVAC Engineering A Good Career?
When you consider the earning potential and the skills you need to fulfill the role of an HVAC engineer, it is a great career path to consider, as long as you are willing to put in the effort and meet the career demands.
Being an HVAC engineer is a career that requires great skills and experience. It is a career path that is unlikely to be infiltrated by artificial intelligence, and it is a career that will always be needed. If you are hoping to leave your own personal mark on a number of industries that uniquely intersect, such as construction, engineering, and even aerodynamics, then this may be a viable career path for you.
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