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How to move from a technical engineering job to an office role

How to move from a technical engineering job to an office role

over 1 year ago

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​With the current shortage of experienced sales and design engineers threatening to hold back ambitious HVAC and building services businesses, many firms are offering staff in practical, hands-on roles, such as service engineers, opportunities to train for white collar jobs.

Roles that are particularly well-suited to those looking for a career shift include (click the job role to read our detailed full job description):

Sales engineer

Application engineer

Design engineer

Project engineer

What are the advantages for employers?

Harnessing knowledge

The main advantage of this hiring strategy for firms is that it means they can harness the technical knowledge within their organisation (or competitor firms) to plug skills gaps in areas that drive business development and innovation. With the growth of smart homes, low carbon specifications and heating and cooling as a service (HaaS and CaaS), HVAC and building services are moving at such a pace that they need industry savvy people to develop new products, manage projects and secure new business.

Staff retention

Another bonus is that as industry 4.0 sweeps through the manufacturing and engineering sectors and automation reduces the number of people needed ‘on the tools’, companies can retain loyal staff and develop them into emerging roles within the business.

Smooth transition

As manufacturing processes become more automated, the robotics and automations used to carry out tasks need to be designed, developed and driven by a new breed of engineers. If those people understand the processes that the robots are carrying out – because they used to do the work themselves – they could be well-placed to be able to support the implementation of automation.

Transferable skills

Attracting talent to support innovation and growth has become a high priority for manufacturing and engineering businesses in all sectors, particularly heating and cooling, and some of the most sought after experience is that of skilled machinists and technical engineers.


Of course, the shift from a long career operating or serving machinery to a new one that involves mastering CAD design software or sales CRM systems and client relationships is not for everyone. Employers will need to identify candidates with strong communication skills and an aptitude for problem-solving. Manufacturers who are looking to fill sales roles in fields such as commercial heating and cooling will be looking for people who can confidently build relationships and who have a commercial aptitude as well as an ability to manage their own time effectively.

What are the advantages for candidates?

Adapting to change

The pace of automation is forcing people in traditional manufacturing jobs to look at career shifts. The move to office work within the same company allows them to use their skills in a new way. It means their years of experience don’t need to go to waste and can be channelled in a new direction.

Sharing knowledge 

Someone with practical technical experience adds an exciting dimension to a team made up of engineering graduates and lifelong office workers. Their perspective can be invaluable in the product development process. In sales roles, their knowledge can help them relate to clients in a unique way and really grasp the challenges they are trying to solve. This makes for a very rewarding role.

Personal development

A new role within the same industry or company gives the opportunity for a career change without having to completely retrain. It is ideal for anyone who has ambitions for a new challenge, variety and progression. Plus, even if someone doesn’t have all the skills needed for the role, employers are often keen to meet the training and development needs of an employee they know and trust.

If you are interested in exploring a career change, explore our jobs listings

You may also be interested in our article The 5 sales skills that will advance your career in heating and renewables

Check out our job description What is an air conditioning sales engineer