Job descriptions and industry overviews

Building services engineer: job description

27 Feb 2024, 13:31

Building services engineers advise about, design, install and maintain cost-effective and energy efficient systems for services in buildings, such as water, lighting, heating, air conditioning and lifts.

Two men working on building site.

Building services engineer : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Building services engineers are responsible for ensuring that the electrical, mechanical ,telecoms and others systems within buildings work effectively and efficiently.

Typical duties include:

  • designing, inspecting, maintaining and testing energy, air conditioning, lifts, drainage and other systems.
  • identifying suitable materials and components.
  • assessing and advising on the sustainability of systems.
  • drawing up plans using computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modelling software.
  • managing projects involving installing or dismantling building services, including forecasting costs and keeping clients informed of progress.
  • ensuring that systems meet health and safety requirements.
  • giving presentations and writing reports highlighting the practical implications of an architect’s designs.
  • negotiating contracts with clients, particularly in consultancy work.
  • liaising with plumbers, electricians, surveyors, architectural technologists and other construction professionals.

Building services engineering projects can vary from the design of the air filtration system in a forensic lab to the installation of flood lights in a sports stadium.

The focus of the role will vary according to the type of employer you work for. Building services engineers who work for construction consultancies tend to focus on the design of the systems; those who work for construction contractors oversee how the designs are implemented on site. Those who work for facilities management or property companies will maintain or repair the services.

It is possible for building services engineers to specialise on the mechanical or electrical sides of functions and systems. Job titles might be ‘graduate mechanical engineer’ or 'graduate electrical engineer' instead of ‘graduate building services engineer’.

Graduate salaries

Salary survey websites suggest that starting salaries for graduate building services engineers range from around £22,000 to £28,000. Earnings will rise with experience, especially if you decide to work towards chartership or incorporated engineer status.

Typical employers of building services engineers

  • Construction companies, including consultancies and contractors.
  • Property firms.
  • Facilities management companies.
  • Organisations that own or operate from a large number of buildings, such as the NHS and universities.
  • Local authorities and central government organisations.

Vacancies can be found on targetjobs and through career services websites. You’ll also find them on specialist jobs boards offered by professional bodies within the industry.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career as a building services engineer for both university graduates and school leavers.

Graduates typically need a degree in an area such as building services engineering, architectural engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. It should be accredited by an appropriate professional body, such as CIBSE or the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

You can work towards one of two professional qualifications depending on what level of degree you have completed. If you have a BEng, you can apply for incorporated engineer status with a professional body. If you completed either a BEng followed by a masters or a MEng degree, you can become a chartered engineer. Both titles are highly valued by employers, though chartered engineers are often more sought after.

Having industry-related work experience – for example, a summer internship or a placement year as part of a sandwich degree – will give you an advantage when applying for graduate jobs. You could also consider voluntary work – for example, with an NGO involved in building projects overseas.

Some engineering firms run short ‘insight’ days or weeks , in which you can meet graduate engineers and other staff, and ask questions.

You can gain further advice on how to get a building services engineering graduate job in our interview with a principal engineer at Mott MacDonald .

Key skills for building services engineers

  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • An eye for detail and good design abilities.
  • Excellent numeracy skills.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Excellent people and time management skills.
  • The ability to work well both as part of a team and on your own.
  • IT skills and a familiarity with industry-specific software and modelling programmes.

Next, read our article on the skills engineering employers look for to find out how you can demonstrate them to recruiters.

targetjobs editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the targetjobs content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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