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Heating and Ventilation Fitter

Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service

Heating and Ventilation Fitter

The Work

As a heating and ventilation fitter you would install and repair the following systems in homes and businesses:

  • heating
  • refrigeration
  • ventilation
  • air conditioning
  • fume extraction.

Your work could range from fitting air conditioning units in a department store, to installing large industrial boilers in a manufacturing plant. Your duties would include:

  • following detailed installation plans showing where to fit pipework
  • using tools and machinery to bend and shape parts, such as steel tubing
  • joining together pipes and their casings (known as ductwork), for example, by welding
  • wiring up systems to electrical control panels
  • testing installations before they go into use
  • answering call-outs to find and repair faults
  • carrying out regular service and maintenance checks for customers.

You would work closely with ductwork installers who build and repair the ductwork that carries pipes and cabling in buildings.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work between 37 and 40 hours a week. You may be expected to work overtime and be on-call for emergencies.

You would work on new developments and refurbishments. The work environment could be cramped and dusty, for example when installing pipework. Some tasks could be outside at heights and you would use ladders or scaffolding to reach these areas. Your employer would normally provide you with safety equipment.

Skills and Interests

  • practical skills for using tools
  • a methodical approach to work
  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • good maths skills for making measurements and calculations
  • the ability to follow detailed technical diagrams and building plans
  • good teamworking skills
  • a reasonable level of fitness
  • a head for heights
  • an understanding of health and safety.


You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme in engineering or plumbing. To get on to a scheme, you would normally need at least four GCSEs (grades A-C) in subjects like maths, English, science, and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications.

The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit

Alternatively, you could take a BTEC Certificate or Diploma in Building Services Engineering at a local college. This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job and may give you an advantage when applying for work. The course has options covering:

  • heating and ventilation
  • air conditioning
  • refrigeration.

Another way into this career would be to take training in welding. For more details about this route, see the job profiles for Welder and Building Services Engineer.

You may need a driving licence if your job involves visiting clients.

You can find more information about careers in heating and ventilation fitting on the SummitSkills website.


Your employer would usually give you on-the-job training. You could work towards relevant NVQs, with options covering domestic installation, industrial and commercial work, ductwork and welding. These include:

  • Mechanical Engineering Services (Heating and Ventilating) at levels 2 and 3
  • Engineering Maintenance and Installation Level 2
  • Installation and Commissioning Level 3.

You may also take further training in fire safety, first aid, ACS assessment for gas systems and appliances, and safe handling of refrigerants.

If you work on oil-fired equipment like heaters and cookers, you may find it useful to follow the Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry's (OFTEC) training and accreditation scheme. Contact OFTEC for more information.

Part L of the Building Regulations - Energy Efficiency
Part L states that technicians fitting new boilers must hold the City & Guilds Certificate in Energy Efficiency for Domestic Heating (6084). This shows that you are qualified to carry out the work in line with Part L requirements. See the SummitSkills website for more details.

Environmental Technologies
The government has recently set targets for greater energy efficiency in a bid to combat climate change. With further training, you may be able to install and maintain renewable energy technologies such as solar powered heating systems. To find out more about this growing area of work, see the Environmental Technologies section of the SummitSkills website.


Typical employers range from specialist heating and ventilation companies to local authorities. Self-employment is another option. It is also common for several fitters to work together for a company, on a sub-contract basis.

With experience, you could be promoted to foreman/forewoman or site supervisor. With further qualifications, such as a foundation degree, HND or degree, you could find work as an engineering technician, contract manager or design engineer.

You may find the following useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in new window)

Engineering Jobs Network
Directgov (Jobseekers page)
Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association (list of companies)
SummitSkills (Environmental Technologies information)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Starting salaries can be between 16,000 and 20,000 a year.
  • Experienced fitters can earn over 25,000 a year.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.


Further information


If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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