Before you can work on a building as a maintenance technician or eventually a chief engineer, you have to learn the tools of the trade. That’s why we’ve established partnerships with top tech schools in the Washington, DC area, to give promising high school and trade school students the necessary skills to succeed in the industry. We’ve also partnered with several property management companies in the area, ensuring a direct pipeline from the internship program to the best open positions in the area.

Let’s learn more about the education and training process of a building engineer:

Do I Need a Four-Year Degree to Pursue Building Engineering?

No! It’s a common misconception that you need a college degree to pursue a career in commercial real estate, but we’re here to tell you that you can have an associate’s degree, a trade school certification, or even recent military experience, and still qualify for an internship or a position with one of AOBA’s member companies. These companies include office building and apartment building management firms, as well as companies who provide services to these firms.

A booming industry like commercial real estate will provide a stable, well-paying career path that doesn’t require the same sacrifice of time and tuition that a four-year degree would. With the rise in demand for entry-level building engineers,  the Foundation is working to develop a steady pipeline between our partners, sponsors and current trade students, that ensures the most qualified candidates are filling the open positions.

In addition to providing necessary experience in the industry, the AEF internship program will give you access to knowledgeable mentors, helping you grow professionally right out of school. Having that personal connection with an industry professional will help you get settled in the industry and learn about what your future could look like as a mid-level or senior engineer.   

What Will I Learn as an Entry-Level Building Engineer?

Entry-level building engineering team members will focus on learning how building systems operate and will gain the “tool skills” needed to repair and maintain these systems. You can expect to be promoted to a building engineer position once you have shown proficiency in repairing and maintaining building systems.

Through a combination of on-the-job training and formal education, building engineers will learn about:

  • HVAC systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • Energy efficiency strategies
  • Customer service

For details about specific skills you need for different positions, click here.

Do You See Yourself as an Operations Expert or Leader and Manager?

As building engineers advance in the industry, they typically choose to focus on one of two different career tracks — engineering or engineering management.

The engineering side will focus on repairing and maintaining increasingly complex building systems. With the right education and experience, an engineer can become an exceptional practitioner, and the go-to expert on the nuts and bolts of their building’s operational systems.

The engineering management focus will teach lead engineers how to supervise other members of their team; chief engineers will learn how to manage a team of engineering employees; a senior chief engineer or vice president of engineering will be responsible for leading a larger team of engineering professionals throughout their building or complex.

An Accessible Education — Online or in the Classroom

We plan to improve this process by creating a series of online programs centered around two main themes — education and accessibility. Given the expansion of online training, we plan to support the creation of several online education opportunities, including scenario-based learning, simulations, mobile learning, apps, and virtual classrooms to accelerate preparation for advancement in engineering careers. By giving candidates a fun, informal introduction to the profession, we’ll increase online visibility and give potential entry-level building engineers a true look into the day-to-day of the profession.

We’re Building Partnerships with the Top Tech Schools in the Region

Central to the internship initiative, we will identify a reliable pipeline of highly qualified candidates who are interested a career in the building trades.  For the first year of the program, we intentionally limited the number of training programs that worked with us to develop a pipeline of candidates. We’re working to establish partnerships with numerous training programs as a way of introducing highly qualified internship candidates to the program.