Over the past ten years, America has seen an increase in demand for people to fill energy roles within the different areas of the industry.
Due to the rising costs of energy and the public/private desire to explore alternate, renewable resources, it is a good time to investigate your options. It might make you happy to know that the list is endless in terms of the kinds of careers, internships, job opportunities, and general education available in the United States.
If you aren’t sure which careers fall under the umbrella of the energy industry, take a look at the following list for a few examples:
- Application Engineer
- Boiler Engineer
- Consultant (Procurement/Management)
- Engineering Tech
- Field Technician
- Instrumentation Engineer
- Logistics Engineer
- Mining Engineer
- Process Engineering
- Project Management
- Quality Engineer
- Substation Engineer
- Turbine Engineer
There are an incredible number of career paths available in the energy industry. To better help you understand your options and the kinds of training you will need, there are several ?career maps? available online.
If you are interested in a solar career, check out the solar career map. If you are interested in a career in wind, check out the wind career map. For more generic or general information on the electricity industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also has Occupational Employment Statistics for Electrical Engineers and other related employment.
In general, the U.S. government is striving to create and advertise energy opportunities in the area of clean energy and invention. The reason for this is to help combat the rising need for alternate, renewable sources of energy to improve or lessen our impact on the environment.
Renewable energy refers to sources of energy that will not disappear when generated or collected. Unlike oil and gas, which are finite resources, renewable energy is like a never-ending well that can always be tapped into.
When it comes to a career in renewable energies, there are several areas you can dive into. The most popular at the moment include,
Solar power is the ability to generate power via collecting heat and light from the sun?s rays.
Over the past ten years, there has been a significant increase in the need for people with the right skills to work in the solar energy industry. There are many reasons for this, some which include, the rising popularity of this type of energy, government initiatives, and lowering implementation and manufacturing costs.
The most popular jobs or careers include,
- Materials Scientist
- Material Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Industrial Engineer
- Computer Software
- Semiconductor Processor
- Welding, Soldering, and Brazing
Depending on the state you live in, there are different options available to you when it comes to courses or training in solar energy. It is important to do your research to ensure that you apply to the right ones. To assist you in this task, the Interstate Renewable Energy Counsel provides an online resource to help you find the solar training programs (amongst others) in your area.
America generates wind energy using small or large turbines that are similar to propeller blades in appearance. The wind moves these blades, which activate a generator. The generator then creates electricity.
There are many careers available in this growing industry, as there are many different factors involved in the creation, maintenance and management of wind turbines. Some of these careers include,
- Construction Manager
- Project Manager
- Road Contractor
- Gravel Worker
- Hardware and Supply Clerk
- Cement Producer
- Field Technician
- Site Manager
- Design & Resource Planner
- Transmission Manufacturer
- Wood Product Supplier
- Switch Gear/Board Manufacturer
In order to even apply for any of the careers mentioned above, you need to investigate the major prerequisites such as strong mechanical skills, and good math and communication skills. There are some jobs like, wind turbine technician for example, that require a degree in electrical engineering.
The most important factor in considering a career in wind energy is that you cannot have a fear of heights. Much of the work involves climbing up turbines that are taller than many multi-story office buildings.
Water is one of the largest renewable energy resources. In fact, because so much of the U.S. population lives near the coast, hydroelectricity or tidal power is estimated to see a significant growth over the next few years. This is good news for the industry, as growth means that there are many opportunities for employment.
The Bureau of Reclamation for many areas of the western United States offers one of the best training programs. The Clean Energy Institute of GPEKS is another resource you can use to learn more about the kind of training you need. While this organization also includes training in other renewable energies, they specialize in covering everything from project inception to completion and management.
Energy Savings careers typically include the manufacturing industry as well as weatherization, a government funded initative. These areas are in high demand at the moment due to the increasing need to try and use cleaner energies and improve our general impact on the environment.
There are many different careers available in energy manufacturing including,
- Process design and development
- Automation Software
- Energy Storage
- Quality Control
- Energy Management
- Supply Chain Logistics
Better Plants is a government operated, training program that helps employees to better understand areas of energy improvement within their facility. While this program is available to existing employees who already have a set of particular skills, it also provides attendees with a better understanding of how they can improve their current knowledge.
Weatherization is a career that is seeing a huge increase in demand. Due to the rising costs of power, the government has turned to upgrading insulation, windows and other common building elements to increase efficiency. Careers include, Crew leader, Weatherization Installer, Weatherization Manager, Energy Auditor, and more.
There are many Weatherization Training Centers all over the United States. To find the one nearest you, check out the Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Centre.
Energy efficient vehicles are gaining popularity every day. These types of vehicles aren?t just limited to cars. Busses, trains, trucks and more are seeing a shift in energy consumption and cost thanks to new energy technologies. Due to the fact that these vehicles have a lower impact on the environment, it is an area of the energy industry that is also seeing an increased demand in workforce.
There are many career paths available in this industry, including,
- Mechanical Engineer
- Electrical Engineer
- Chemical Engineer
- Material Scientist
- Factory Worker
- Automotive Technician
The wonderful thing about the energy industry is that there are always career opportunities for people who love to invent new technologies. At the moment, there is an increase in demand within different government entities like the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for people who can bring new energy ideas to the table. While this career path is typically a little more difficult to pursue, there are many government programs and initiatives you can apply to that provide grants, competitions and funding & financing options.
Contacting your local state government will help you to find the resources that best suit your needs.
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door of the energy career you want. Depending on the path you?ve chosen, there are many different opportunities available.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration offers many student internships to people who are in the middle of obtaining a degree, and looking for work over the summer. The work ranges from office administration work to research, developing and designing modeling systems, surveys, reports, and more.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is another organization that offers internships to people looking for the opportunity to learn more about their career. These programs provide mentorship, as well as different types of collaboration.
If you have recently graduated from your energy program of choice, you might be looking for the perfect job. There are many online resources available to assist you in your search including,
EERE Career Opportunities
My Energy Gateway
DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory Careers and Fellowships
Department of Energy
Energy Information Administration
There are of course different ways in which you can educate yourself about American energy without changing your current career.
Many schools within the United States incorporate energy information into the curriculum. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy offers lesson plans, video plans, and other online tools for elementary, high school and university teachers or administrators. This area of the site is called Teach and Learn. If you are someone who is looking to educate yourself on energy, there are also many resources on this site that will help to point you in the right direction.