Do you love manual work? Do you have an aptitude for mechanics and the ability to read plans and drawings? If so, you may be just right for a career as a heating and ventilation engineer.
What do heating and ventilation engineers do?
Heating and ventilation engineers install, maintain, and repair heating and cooling systems – primarily in large buildings, like hospitals, schools, shops, etc. Tasks may include:
- Installing things like heating systems, ventilation systems, piping, ductwork, etc. (primarily in large commercial buildings)
- Installing heating systems in private homes
- Carrying out repairs as well as routine maintenance
- Working to improve heating/cooling efficiency by learning about and recommending things like ground-sourced heating systems (which use the natural heat from underground to heat homes)
Where and when do heating and ventilation engineers work?
- Most heating and ventilation work a regular 40-hour week.
- Night and weekend shifts may be necessary if your employer offers round-the-clock service.
- Overtime may occasionally be necessary, especially in periods of extreme temperatures.
- Heating and ventilation workers typically travel to customers within a designated regional area, although overnight travel may occasionally be necessary.
- Heating and ventilation engineers frequently work in tight spaces under unpleasant conditions. They may need to work outside in all kinds of weather.
- Some heating and ventilation engineers work primarily on construction sites and are exposed to dust and other environmental concerns.
- Good hands-on, practical skills
- Excellent customer-service skills
- Ability to read and follow diagrams
- Ability and willingness to work with heights or in tight spaces
- Excellent problem-solving skills
- Knowledge of industry safety practices
- Methodical, persistent approach to work
Education and training
Most heating and ventilation engineers learn their skills through an apprenticeship scheme, which combines classroom learning with on-the-job training from their employer. Most of these schemes last between two and four years.
If you’re not already in an apprenticeship, you could make yourself more competitive by taking some college courses while you’re waiting:
- Level 2 Certificate in Heating and Ventilation Studies
- Level 2 Certificate in Plumbing, Heating and Ventilation
- Level 2 Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering
- Level 2 Diploma in Mechanical Engineering
- Level 2 Diploma in Heating and Ventilating
Once you’re working, your employer may encourage you to work toward one or more industry qualifications:
- Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Heating and Ventilating - Ductwork Installation
- Level 2 (NVQ) Diploma in Planned and Reactive Maintenance on Heating and Ventilating Equipment
- Level 3 Diploma in Building Services Engineering for Technicians
- Level 3 (NVQ) Diploma in Heating and Ventilating Industrial and Commercial Installation.
- Level 3 Award in the Installation and Maintenance of Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems
- Level 3 (NVQ) Certificate in Installing and Commissioning Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Systems
You can learn more from one of the industry’s professional organizations:
Gas Safe Register
Possible career paths
- You could specialize in a particular sector of the industry, such as green technologies, where you would help customers design, install, and maintain energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.
- You could become a commissioning engineer, making sure systems meet the original design specifications.
- You could become a controls engineer, designing the panels that operate and adjust heating systems.
- You could move into a management role and supervise a team of technicians.
- You could start your own shop.
If you enjoy manual work and love solving problems, like helping customers, and have a passion for engineering and mechanics, you could have a promising career as a heating and ventilation engineer.