Thornhvac has been leading the field in air conditioning jobs for 20 years and over that time the top roles in the industry have changed significantly. We’ve been gathering data from some of our latest air conditioning clients to find out what roles are in greatest demand and which offer the best salaries, career prospects and job satisfaction.
The role of air conditioning engineer is varied and those with experience in servicing and maintenance of this type of HVAC equipment are in high demand. If you enjoy being out on the road, travelling between client sites to service and maintain air conditioning equipment, this could be a good career choice, particularly if you have an F-Gas qualification. These roles are generally well-paid, particularly in London and the South East, often with scope for overtime. Basic salaries tend to be in the region of £30,000 and £40,000 depending on region and employer, with a range of additional benefits and a company van. The job will involve routine servicing, call outs, fault finding, test and inspection and occasional commissioning and installs. Knowledge of air handling units, chillers and general plumbing and heating skills can be an advantage. Work will typically be carried out on behalf of commercial customers with travel to retail outlets, hotels, restaurants and other similar sites.
Estimators work from a client’s brief and drawings or site surveys to create a working design for an air conditioning system. This is a good career option for anyone who communicates well and enjoys liaising with both customers and internal staff to provide quotations and progress tenders. The package typically includes a good basic salary plus a car and bonus. You will need a strong technical understanding of air conditioning systems and mechanics and you will also have good commercial skills to allow you to negotiate effectively with suppliers and sub-contractors when pulling together quotes. Air conditioning estimator jobs come up in all regions across the UK and a large part of the role will be office based. An all-round understanding of HVAC can be an advantage as some roles may involve tendering for projects that incorporate ductwork, ventilation units, heating, plumbing and pipework.
An air conditioning applications engineer provides design information and technical solutions to customers and advises on the most suitable cooling products for an existing building or a scheme under planning or construction. There are superb career opportunities for applications engineers working in the HVAC sector in the UK with the chance to build relationships with clients, specifiers and companies in the building sector. Air conditioning applications engineers typically earn a basic salary of between £25,000 and £45,000 with additional benefits. A building services or mechanical engineering background is desirable with a strong technical knowledge of air conditioning systems, although companies will provide training in their products. The role will involve generating detailed application designs and quotations for customers and good office based skills including experience in the use of Excel, Powerpoint and CAD are beneficial and may even be a necessity for some employers. Read our job description for an air conditioning applications engineer for more information.
For those aspiring to pursue a career in technical sales, an air conditioning sales engineer job is a foot on the ladder and can lead to excellent career opportunities within the HVAC and building services sector. The salary will be typically in the region of £35,000 to £45,000 plus bonus, car and benefits and will involve visiting customers, following up leads, presenting to clients and developing relationships with buyers. Many roles now include responsibility for managing online marketing campaigns. Customers will usually be in the commercial and industrial sector and new business development will be a key part of the job. The job will suit sales professionals who have worked in the HVAC sector. Technical knowledge of air conditioning systems is always an advantage but not necessarily essential as training tends to be given.
An air conditioning area sales manager is involved in all stages of the sale and marketing process including managing sales staff, product development, negotiations with key customers, distribution of products, budget management, sales projections, customer relationship management (CRM) and staff training and coaching. The basic salary tends to be in the region of £50,000 to £65,000 with a bonus on top although some manufacturers will pay a higher basic salary than this whereas others might offer a slightly lower basic and a more lucrative bonus package. A company car and a good range of benefits will be offered in addition to the salary and bonus package. Sales skills are important but this is a technical role so a good working knowledge of air conditioning systems and applications will be essential. Some roles will also require knowledge of chillers and related products. Air conditioning sales manager roles often attract applications from air conditioning sales engineers, project managers, estimators and applications engineers who have a good technical understanding and commercial acumen and want to be out on the road rather than office based.
Experienced sales managers can progress to sales director level where they will be responsible for supporting and managing the wider sales team. The job will suit those who enjoy man management and gain satisfaction from building and retaining a solid, high-quality and united sales force. This role will have a greater emphasis on cost control, margins and sales revenue than other air conditioning sales jobs and candidates will have considerable experience of working within the air conditioning, HVAC or construction sector. For more information read our HVAC sales director job description.
An air conditioning contracts engineer is typically employed by an air conditioning manufacturer to support the project team and provide design information and technical solutions. Strong communication skills will be needed to liaise with all those involved in the project to make sure everything stays on schedule. There will be a good deal of routine admin including phone calls, updating online project management systems and chasing up suppliers and sub-contractors to keep things on track. Project engineers can be required to handle technical queries and manage equipment procurement. This type of role is a good route into HVAC management for graduate mechanical engineers. Due to the technical knowledge required in the role, employers also look for candidates with HNC or degree level qualifications in building services or related subjects. Experience in CAD and similar design packages is an advantage.
This is often the next step on the career ladder for air conditioning project engineers. Former site supervisors are also well suited to this role. Project managers in the air conditioning industry manage multiple projects and installations of air conditioning equipment on behalf of manufacturers. The job involves scheduling works, procurement of equipment and managing sub-contractors. Experience of project management is an advantage as the role will have a strong focus on ensuring planning and installation runs to schedule and processes are adhered to. This is a key role that is pivotal to the success of a project and commands a basic salary of around £45,000 to £50,000. An air conditioning project manager has responsibility for managing on-site progress, health and safety and progress by technical and installation teams on site. Profit related bonuses may be offered by some employers along with other benefits.
Air conditioning design engineers design, develop and test air conditioning components, technologies and systems. They will either work for an HVAC manufacturer or for a consulting or design company to create new or replacement cooling systems. An increasing part of the role is to find solutions to improve air quality. The role will vary widely from company to company. Smaller firms will involve their design engineers in other tasks such as estimating and project management whereas larger firms will employ designers to work specifically on the design of new products and improvements to existing equipment. Expect to work closely with clients in the residential, commercial or industrial sectors to test concepts. Other activities could include presenting at client meetings, reporting on current installations, and evaluating compliance.
Specification sales engineers usually work for air conditioning manufacturers and call on M&E consultants to manage existing accounts and develop new business. This is a good role for someone who is looking to progress their career in the air conditioning sector. Suitable candidates may come from a variety of backgrounds including sales, applications engineers, design engineers, project engineers and estimators. Those with sales experience can expect to earn between £40,000 and £50,000 plus bonus and benefits. Specification selling is a growth area in the HVAC industry and there are some superb opportunities for candidates who have an ability to develop long-term relationship with clients. They are relied on by manufacturers to build demand for their products by promoting awareness of benefits, sharing technical knowledge and developing trust. Read our detailed specification sales engineer job description to find out more.
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