We have been recruiting for top roles in commercial heating, air conditioning and ventilation for more than 20 years and we continue to help manufacturers find the people they need to achieve their growth plans and compete in a fast-moving sector. As the market evolves, we have expanded to support companies in building services, refrigeration, cooling, decarbonised heat and other renewables as well as HVAC.
Within all these fields, the range of engineering jobs available is wide. So how do you know where your skills will fit best? Here we compare some of the key roles. We have focused specifically on air conditioning although many of the characteristics of these jobs apply right across HVAC.
An air conditioning applications engineer is an expert in recommending the most suitable cooling product for either a retrofit project or a new build scheme, based on their manufacturer’s product range. This is a technical role that can include design, estimating and technical support. The role will differ slightly depending on the nature of the employer’s business and products but it is likely that the engineer will engage in negotiations and discussions with decision makers and specifiers and be proficient in the use of design and product selection software. This job is very much about finding solutions for customers and there isn’t usually any R&D or product design involved.
The role of a design engineer is highly technical and involves developing solutions that will improve air quality and comply with the latest health and safety and environmental legislation, whether they are involved in developing individual products or entire building solutions.
Some design engineers focus on projects, making sure existing products work well together, whereas others specialise in creating new and updating existing products. Project focused design engineers will generally work for a consulting or design company or directly for an employer in the building services sector. The job involves liaising with contractors and M&E consultants and includes a high degree of project management. In some cases, design engineers are closely involved in the tender process for new projects and system specifications. Product focused design engineers will generally work for manufacturers and will be involved in new product development.
Air conditioning sales engineers will typically deal with M&E consultants and installers to match solutions from the manufacturer’s portfolio of products to customer needs. This is a commercial role that relies on the sales engineer having a solid understanding of the technical specifications of the products and how they can be applied. Some employers will require experience with a specific product or system, particularly if they operate in a niche market. Some sales engineers focus on promoting a set range of products. Others will work closely with a sales manager or as part of a team that might include specification engineers and design engineers to secure sales for their employer. In some companies, technical sales engineers will select products for customers and put together quotes.
All three roles are very different but in many companies they will work closely together to find the best solution for the customer and develop new products to meet changing needs.