Building services engineers design, install, monitor and
maintain the infrastructure of domestic and commercial
premises. Infrastructure can include water, gas and
electrical supplies, lighting, heating, air-conditioning and
refrigeration, telecommunications, security and safety
systems, lifts and escalators.
Engineers often work in particular areas such as estimating, design, buying or project management. Some also specialise in a particular aspect of building services, such as mechanical systems servicing or environmental impact assessments.
Engineers work closely with clients and other professionals including architects, engineering technicians and builders to integrate systems at the earliest stages of a design project.Once client requirements have been discussed, design plans are drawn up, using computer-aided engineering and design software. Engineers also take responsibility for the following areas:
The energy efficiency and environmental impact of buildings is an increasingly important area, and engineers must ensure that new- build projects and modifications to existing sites meet the strict requirements of national and international guidelines and legislation.
Fully qualified professional engineers usually hold incorporated or chartered status.
Chartered engineers are normally involved at a strategic planning level, researching and developing new designs, innovations and more efficient processes for the application of new and existing technologies within their chosen engineering specialism. They are often project leaders and are responsible for teams of incorporated engineers and technicians.
Incorporated engineers specialise in managing the process of applying current engineering solutions in the most cost-effective manner. They have a detailed knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology, and have the skills and know-how to put plans into practice. They often hold key operational management roles.
Building services engineers work 35 to 40 hours a week.
Extra hours may be required to meet deadlines. On-call
duties may also apply to some engineers.
The working environment depends on the job. Typically, this involves time spent working in an office but with regular site visits. A driving licence will be useful.
To be a building services engineer you should:
Opportunities are good at technician and engineer level.
Building services engineers are employed by a range of
different organisations including design consultancy
firms, major building contractors, building services
contractors, architectural practices that design building
services installations, and manufacturers of equipment
such as lifts. Other employers include the users of
buildings such as local authorities, NHS trusts and
maintenance companies that specialise in servicing and
maintaining building service installations.
Promotion usually involves taking on positions of increased management responsibility. Some engineers move on to become self-employed, for example on a consultancy basis. Opportunities also exist abroad.
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