A career in building engineering and maintenance gives you opportunity, security, and great earning power, without the need for a four-year degree.
Average in-state cost of four-year degree at public college (double this for a private college). Source: College Board, 2018
Average student loan debt for graduates of four-year public & private colleges. Source: Institute for College Access and Success
Percentage of Washington, DC area real estate firms that pay for industry training for their employees. Source: AEF
Why pursue a career in building engineering?
Building engineering is a versatile and creatively challenging profession. Unlike most fields, training is not a major barrier to entry — companies will often pay for you to obtain any relevant certifications, and a course that covers your field of interest is likely available through a local trade school or community college.
In other industries, without a four-year degree, it can be difficult to find the right training opportunities. With AEF, you’ll be able to apply for a paid summer work experience with major companies in your chosen field, our Sponsors want to invest in your future, and they consider the Internship program a bridge to potential full-time employment.
An AEF internship will require that you become savvy with basic maintenance skills like electrical, HVAC and plumbing, but the most promising candidates will be hard-working, reliable, innovative and customer service-oriented. Since above all, the job of a building engineer is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the office or residential building and its occupants.
Myths and Misconceptions
It’s impossible to break in at the entry level. An internship can turn into not just a full-time job, but a lucrative career, with a clear path to advancement.
Your resume is all that matters. Soft skills are finally getting the recognition they deserve in the workplace; while prospective building engineers may assume that success in the field is all about traditional maintenance knowledge, employers recognize the value of a candidate who possesses a natural curiosity about how things work, and the desire and ability to pick up new skills as the field evolves with technology. If you work hard, stay determined and have the desire to be a lifelong learner, you’ll find a place in the industry.
It’s a 24/7 job. While it helps to maintain a flexible availability, you won’t be on-call all the time. There will be the occasional emergency, but according to industry veterans, they’re “few and far between.”
Find out if a career in building maintenance and engineering is for you.
There is no “traditional” candidate for building engineering. Some prospects enter the program with maintenance experience, others are veterans of the armed forces or career changers transitioning from an entirely different field. It’s also a good alternative to college — attending a four-year university doesn’t guarantee success, but preparing yourself with on-the-job experience does.
If you have an interest in the trades and want to learn more about how you can be a part of the booming commercial real estate industry in the Washington, DC area, we encourage you to check out the Get Hired page and apply!
Build your skills. Move forward.
It doesn’t take a four-year degree.
Since advancement will ultimately depend on the employee’s readiness for promotion and the opportunities that are available to him or her, we hope to provide every opportunity we can for our graduates to gain the necessary education, training and work experience needed to be successful in the industry.
An entry level maintenance helper will learn the basics of the profession for about three years, until they rise to a supervisory role that requires a thorough understanding of mechanical systems, where they’ll gain additional knowledge in project management and fire safety protocol. Senior level engineers are expected to be intimately familiar with local and national building codes and emergency planning, with additional responsibilities that may include energy management and sustainability.
Looking to Partner with us? We provide training, opportunity, and more.
The Foundation will partner with educational institutions and community-based organizations in the Washington, DC area to expand opportunities for potential interns, graduates and industry veterans alike:
- We’ll present at industry career fairs to ensure that all interested students are aware of the opportunities available with AEF;
- We’ll help potential interns experience a “Day in the Life of a Building Engineer” by shadowing an engineer at an AOBA member company;
- Annual scholarships will give students the opportunity to be lifelong learners, continuing their education with yearly certifications and industry courses;
- Our mentorship program will ensure that each student has the opportunity to build an industry network that ensures their entry-level job will turn into a career.