Job descriptions and industry overviews

Building services engineer

28 Feb 2023, 11:16

Advises about, designs, installs and maintains cost-effective and energy-efficient systems for building services such as water, lighting, heating, air conditioning, lifts and telecommunications.

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Job description

Building services engineers bring buildings to life by designing the mechanical and electrical systems that allow people to function within an enclosed structure. Building services engineering involves the production and maintenance of a stable internal environment that has the correct temperature, air quality and lighting levels. It requires the provision of all the necessary backup support systems such as power, hot and cold water and lifts. The installation of life protection systems such as fire alarms, escape routes and sprinkler systems is an important responsibility as well. These functions must be linked to sophisticated building management systems to ensure effective control and to minimise energy consumption.

Building services engineers use their understanding of the thermal interaction between a person and the building envelope and between the building and the external environment to design low energy thermal, fluid and power systems to achieve a comfortable safe, internal environment whatever form and function the building may take.

European directives now require all buildings to have an energy rating certificate and building services engineers play a vital role in this process.

Work activities

  • Designing layouts and requirements for building services for residential or commercial developments.
  • Visiting sites, meeting clients and working with other professional engineers, architects and surveyors.
  • Supervising the construction of the building services, commissioning systems and ongoing maintenance and operation of services.
  • Developing new energy saving methods for construction, designing new and improved energy conservation systems for buildings.

Work conditions

Travel: can be frequent during the working day though much depends on the type of role and the employer.
Working hours: mainly Monday to Friday office hours, though may require being on call in the case of emergencies.
Location: mainly in towns and cities throughout the country.
Opportunities for self-employment: possible.

Career development

Much depends on choice of specialisation.


Pay rates vary widely depending on nature of employer and tend to increase according to experience rather than qualification.

Entry requirements

You will need to demonstrate strong technical competence, design skills and commercial awareness. Engineers working for contractors need to be able to pick up legal and financial issues and resolve difficulties, while those working for consultants need analytical skills.

A degree in engineering, ideally with a specialisation in building services engineer is recommended. However, it is possible to work as a building services engineer with a primary degree in related areas such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, or electrical engineering.

Specific degree subjects required

BEng building services engineering.

Other relevant degree subjects

  • Building energy, services and design
  • Civil engineering
  • Construction – facilities and energy management
  • Electrical engineering
  • Mechanical engineering.

Postgraduate study

A pre-entry postgraduate qualification is not a requirement, except for engineers who graduate from 2013 and wish to gain chartership.

Specific entry requirements

Engineers who graduate from 2013 and who wish to become chartered engineers will need to hold an accredited masters Degree (Level 9), or equivalent. Level 8 bachelor degrees will, from 2013, satisfy the requirements for Institution of Engineers of Ireland membership only.

Tips for applications

Gain work experience in any sector of the construction industry.

Skills and qualities

  • Excellent team working skills.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • A creative and enquiring mind.
  • Excellent problem solving ability.
  • Mathematically and technically minded.
  • Good management skills.
  • Organisational skills.
  • The ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines.

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