CAREER DEVELOPMENT / APR. 16, 2014
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How to Become an Air Conditioning Engineer

An air conditioning engineer is one of the most important jobs that someone can have. They help to keep buildings and vehicles comfortable and they help to keep the right climate in buildings for equipment and products.

If you are interested in becoming an air conditioning engineer, below you will find the information about the job and what you can expect if you take on this career.

Definition of Air Conditioning Engineers

Air conditioning engineers are the mechanical engineers, who are responsible for working on the systems that heat, cool, circulate, dehumidify, purify, and humidify air.  Systems for controlling climates are used in a lot of areas indoors, from tractor-trailer cabs to office buildings. These kinds of systems help people live and work with maximum safety and comfort. They also help machines and other kinds of equipment work correctly. For example, it’s important to control a print shop’s humidity level to help the ink print clearly and to stop the paper from shrinking. In addition, computers need to stay at certain humidity and temperature levels.

Air conditioning engineers do work on the systems for hospitals, homes, schools, factories, theaters, trains, offices, stores, ships, and car. Each of these interior areas comes with their own problems that an engineer has to solve.  When there’s a space shuttle that’s burning hot on one of its sides from the sun rays and -400 degrees on its other side, this presents unique problems with air conditioning. Engineers often also encounter problems anytime they’re developing systems that go in large areas like shopping malls that are enclosed in glass.

Air conditioning engineers also work for the companies that manufacture air conditioning equipment and for contracting and engineering firms. They work in the industries which use the air conditioners. They also work for universities, government agencies, and colleges. Some engineers even work on their own in their own business.

Usually the engineers have a specialty in a particular section, like research and development.  In this particular area, engineers create, test, and then develop new types of equipment.  Those involved in production are responsible for planning the steps of manufacturing. They figure out the cost of supplies and labor and many times will supervise the equipment’s manufacturing. Other engineers have jobs in sales. They work with the customers to figure out their individual needs and find the right system that will work for them. They also supervise when air conditioning systems are being installed, operated, or maintained.  Some also work as consultants who advise contractors, architects, manufacturers, and others when it comes to problems with air conditioning.

Education & Training Requirements

 

You will need a bachelor’s degree with a major in engineering at least to get a job in the air conditioning engineer field.  Most of the engineers have a degree in electrical or mechanical engineering. Some of the colleges have courses specifically for air conditioning engineering, but having training in one of the engineering fields gives enough training. If you attend a college with a work-study program, it may be possible to combine job experience in the industry with your training.

Some of the engineers will get their master’s or doctorate. To get your master’s you’ll need 1-2 years more of study full time.  Doctoral will need 4 years of study full time. Some of the engineers choose to graduate work part-time after they have their bachelor’s and they’re working. Employers will often encourage employees to take some courses that are going to improve their performance and often they’ll pay for their tuition. Additionally, it’s required that engineers continue with their studies through their career so that they’re keeping up with the latest technology.

Engineers who are working for the public or who do work that affects property, health, or life have to get licensed by their state.  They will generally need to get a degree from an engineering college that has been approved, around four years of experience working in the engineering field, and they have to pass the state exam before they receive their license.

Getting a Job

Your college placement office can give you information about getting an engineering job. If you take part in a work-study program in college, you may be able to continue working for your employer after graduation. You can also apply directly to companies that hire air-conditioning engineers. Many employers advertise job openings in newspapers, Internet job banks, and trade and professional journals.

Advancement Possibilities & Employment Outlook

Advancing in the field of air conditioning engineer usually will depend on experience and education. A lot of engineers go on to head up research teams, managers, and even executives. Some of them start contracting or consulting firms.  Engineers are projected to grow averagely through the end of 2014. Openings are going to come from growing demands of upgraded or new climate control systems. 

Working Conditions

The conditions in which an air conditioning engineer works will depend on where the person is employed. Those who work in development and research generally work in laboratories and offices, and work 40 hours per week. Engineers that work in production generally are working on the production lines or at the construction sites.  They will often work in rotating shifts. Most of the sales engineers are frequent travelers and they have flexible hours.  Engineers should know they’ll work additional hours sometimes, especially when there are deadlines. There are also hours that they are going to spend in classes and learning new engineering developments.

It’s important that an engineer is an innovative, creative problem solver.  Engineers also have to be good at math and science and be good with communication. They will communicate with engineers, technicians, customers, and architects. They also need to be team players.

Earnings & Benefits

Earnings are going to greatly vary depending on the engineer’s experience and education, their location, and the job type, but the average yearly salary for an air conditioning engineer is $53,000.  Engineers will earn salaries that are similar to those earned by material engineers. Benefits generally include paid vacations and holidays, pension plans, and health insurance.

Image Source: Bergin Hvac

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