A building services engineer designs, installs and maintains the equipment in buildings. This includes heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, refrigeration (HVACR) systems, water pipes, lifts, escalators, lighting, acoustics, fire protection and telecommunications cabling.
There are several specialist areas where you could work, including air conditioning and refrigeration, electrotechnical, heating and ventilation and plumbing. You could be:
discussing requirements with clients and the rest of the construction team
calculating the volume of space the system is to heat or ventilate and the numbers of people passing through the area
taking into account global environmental issues such as energy efficiency and the need to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2)
evaluating the performance of existing systems and equipment and deciding if it needs upgrading or replaced
estimating the cost and managing budgets
preparing 2D and 3D designs using computer-aided design (CAD) software and building information modelling
overseeing the work while it goes on, making sure it meets health and safety and legal requirements
monitoring the operation of the services once installation is complete
researching new technologies and products.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Building Services Engineering Technicians with a relevant HND can earn £20,000 to £30.000 a year.
Graduate trainee engineers with a relevant degree are from £26,000 to £28,000 a year. More experienced building services engineers £40,000 a year, and those in senior positions may earn up to around £55,000 a year.
You will split your time between working in an office, and out and about visiting sites.
When on site, you have to wear protective clothing: hard hat, safety boots and overalls.
Normal working hours would be Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm, although you may have to work some evenings and weekends to meet project deadlines.
You may have to travel long distances to different jobs and spend periods away from home, possibly abroad.
You could enter at technician level after completing a relevant HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8) in an engineering discipline. Glasgow Kelvin College offers an HNC in Building Services: Engineering on a full time, part time or day release basis. You need Higher Maths and Physics at B or a relevant NC at SCQF Level 6.
Other relevant subjects include environmental engineering, electrical, electronic, mechanical or systems control engineering.
Entry requirements for an HNC or HND are usually 1-2 Highers, or relevant NC or NQ (SCQF Levels 4-6). Maths and Physics may be required.
To enter as a trainee engineer, you would have a relevant degree or postgraduate qualification.
Entry requirements for an engineering degree are usually 4-5 Highers, preferably including Maths and Physics plus National 5 English.
Glasgow Caledonian University offers a BEng Hons (SCQF Level 10) degree course in Building Services Engineering on a full or part time basis. For 2nd or 3rd year entry you require a relevant HNC or HND.
You might enter through a Technical Apprenticeship. Relevant Highers are required.
Premises, such as hospitals, information technology centres and swimming pools, need specialist services. Jobs are with building firms, architects' practices, design consultancy firms, civil engineering companies, equipment manufacturers, NHS Trusts, power stations and local authorities.
What Does it Take?
You need to have:
excellent communication skills
report writing skills
strong problem solving and analytical skills
an interest in architecture and building planning
technical and design abilities
a responsible attitude to safety issues.
You need to be able to:
handle complex information
use CAD and specialist design software
organise work programmes and projects
keep to a budget
work to a deadline
work alone and also as part of a team.
After gaining your qualifications, training is mainly on the job.
You might study for Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) such as Service, Maintain and Commission Building Engineering Services at SCQF Level 7.
After gaining your HNC, HND or degree and some practical experience with an employer, you can go on to register with the Engineering Council as a professional engineer – either Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).
For IEng you need to have either a recognised Bachelor’s degree or a recognised HNC or HND plus further study to Bachelor’s degree level.
For CEng you need to have a recognised Bachelor’s degree with Honours plus a recognised Masters degree (or equivalent), or a recognised integrated Master of Engineering (MEng) degree.
If you do not have any of the above qualifications, you may still be able to achieve IEng or CEng by other approved routes. You can check these alternative routes with the Engineering Council or with the appropriate professional engineering institution.
As a chartered or incorporated engineer, you are required to keep up to date with latest technology and technical information through continuous professional development (CPD).
You might go on to specialise, for example in energy management, public health engineering or acoustics.
You could do a degree part time to go from technician level to engineer level.
You could become an energy manager, a contract or project manager, commissioning engineer or estimator.
You might become a partner in a private practice, working on short-term contracts or as a consultant.
For more information please see the list of professional bodies below: