Building Engineer License, Certification and Credential Information

Oct 20, 2021

Building engineers are not required to be certified, but some states do require them to have a license. Work experience gained through an apprenticeship is necessary, although some postsecondary training may be used in lieu of experience.

Essential Information

Building engineers, also called stationary engineers or boiler operators, operate the boilers, engines and air conditioning systems that supply and regulate a building's electricity, plumbing, temperature and ventilation. They typically must have some work and/or education experience to be licensed by a city or state. Licensure is not required in all states. Voluntary certification is available from various professional organizations.

Required Education High school diploma at minimum; completion of a postsecondary certificate or degree program can substitute for some years of work experience
Required Training Work experience as a mechanic, boiler machinist or apprentice
Required Skills Operation and maintenance of boiler units; safety skills
Exam Requirements Exams are required for both licensure and certification

License Information for a Building Engineer

Building engineers are licensed at either the city or state level. Individuals generally must receive a qualifying score on an examination to receive their license. Eligibility requirements vary by municipality and license type, which are based on the class of equipment or on a professional experience grade.

Typically, licensees must be at least 18 years old and have their high school diploma or GED. Work experience is commonly required. Qualifying experience may include working as a mechanic, boiler machinist or apprentice. Smaller boilers may require one year of experience, while larger units require up to five years or more. Some municipalities reduce or replace work experience with relevant postsecondary education.

Certification Information for a Building Engineer

The National Association of Power Engineers (NAPE) offers basic and advanced certifications for boiler operators who receive a qualifying score on an examination. Test topics include operation and maintenance, national regulations, fuels, combustion, emergency procedures and safety. According to NAPE, the advanced certification places more prominence on pollution, combustion, safety and operation procedure knowledge.

Related professionals and those who have additional responsibilities outside of boiler operations can earn certifications from different industry organizations. The National Apartment Association; American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute; and American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers all offer certifications for building operations managers and related workers.

Credential Information for a Building Engineer

Building engineers can earn educational credentials from community colleges, vocational schools and labor organizations. The International Union of Operating Engineers coordinates formal apprenticeship programs, which combine classroom education with practical experience through its joint apprenticeship committee and local chapters. Stationary engineers earn a journeyman designation upon completion of their apprenticeship.

Colleges may offer completion or license preparation certificates for stationary, building or maintenance engineering. Stationary engineer associate degree programs are also available. Relevant coursework includes heating and air conditioning, maintenance techniques, electrical system fundamentals, plumbing fundamentals and instrumentation.

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that jobs for stationary engineers and boiler operators would increase by 2% during the 2019-2029 decade. In 2019, the BLS reported that stationary engineers and boiler operators made a median annual salary of $62,150.

Building engineers may be licensed at the city or state level. It is important to check local licensing requirements. Although certification is not required, it may help increase job prospects for those entering this field.

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