It’s no secret that green energy jobs are on the rise but do you know by how much? Every recent year has seen growth, including through the pandemic while nearly every other industry was losing workers.
Well, you can get started in a lucrative and fulfilling job saving the planet, and you probably meet the barrier of entry for some of them without even realizing it! Let’s talk about renewable energy jobs and what they can do for you.
Why Renewable Energy Jobs Are Rising So Sharply
If you’re not a news junky, you may not have heard about the latest IPCC report back in August. Essentially, it said that we need to cap global carbon emissions from fossil fuels by 2030, and transition to 100% clean energy by 2050 at the latest to stop global warming’s most dangerous effects.
Many scientists and analysts even believe that 2050 is too late. Either way, that means that we need to have the most ambitious and large-scale transition of energy resources that the world has ever seen.
While electric cars get all the media attention, the truth is that an electric car does not help lower emissions at all if the electric grid used to charge uses fossil fuels. In fact, indirect use is more wasteful, in many cases.
That’s why renewable energy is so important. We can lower our meat production, drive electric vehicles, and use heat pumps in our houses, but our homes account for the majority of our carbon emissions.
Not only that, but the majority of carbon emissions don’t even come from homes. Large corporate and government buildings will need to transition as well, which means there is plenty of work to go around.
What Does This Mean For Workers?
Glad you asked! This all sounds great in theory, right? We need all hands on deck to transition our planet to clean energy. So, what’s in it for the workers?
As we said, clean energy jobs are on the rise at a faster rate than people are joining. That means that there is high demand. If a skilled worker in the solar or wind industry wants to find work, it’s likely that they won’t have a difficult time doing so.
This translates to receiving training, fair salaries, benefits, and job security for workers.
Believe it or not, 33% of workers in the United States are job insecure, meaning that they wake up in the morning not knowing how much longer they will be able to pay the bills. Transitioning to an ever-growing field like renewables is a great way to take that stress off your back.
Do You Need a Degree Or Experience?
This will depend on the job and the company you want to work for. There are plenty of positions looking for unskilled labor to help out. Most jobs will offer training for hands-on work because the jobs are in such high demand. However, certain jobs will require experience or prior education.
For example, there is a need for skilled engineers for the development process, which you can’t get into with just a high school diploma.
Although, you can work your way up to a high-level position without a degree, in many cases. You won’t be able to enter as a foreman on a solar crew, but that is a possibility for you a few years into your career. Solar installation foreman have even been known to make 6-figure salaries with certain companies!
There are some ways to get ahead of the competition, however. We offer some tips for getting started with green energy jobs, which can really help you when it’s time to apply. Let’s talk about these jobs!
Best Renewable Energy Careers With No Experience
Solar installation technician is undoubtedly the best entry-level clean energy job with no experience. These jobs are growing fast, and the industry is expected to grow even faster all the way through the 2040s! Here’s what you need to know.
Solar Technician Requirements
To start, all you need is a high school diploma and (ideally) some enthusiasm for clean energy.
Solar technicians can start as general laborers working on a solar crew and learn the ropes on the job, or be provided with several hours of training before they start. Some technicians choose to take some coursework at a community college or vocational school before applying.
On the Job
To be good at this job, you have to be reasonably comfortable with heights or get ready to learn how to be. Solar installers spend a lot of time on rooftops, but plenty of safety precautions are always involved.
Being mechanically inclined will also help you. You will have a leg-up on other applicants if you have experience with electricity, carpentry, and most other trades, as these skills are very applicable to solar installation.
The job isn’t all on rooftops. There will be solar farms where you will get to work in the field, and there will be a lot of time spent driving or sitting in a truck between jobs. If you like being outside and you don’t mind heights, then this is the job for you!
There will also be physical demands. You will have to carry various equipment up and down ladders, load and unload trucks, and be comfortable with walking on a slanted rooftop.
Your typical day will include installing, inspecting, or repairing solar panels on residential homes, solar farms, buildings, or elsewhere. You will have to know how to install the panels, how they work, and how to fix them. There will also be a lot of safety training necessary for this work, so you will have to be prepared to take extra precautions.
Salary and Benefits
The average salary for a solar technician is around $51,000 in the US, but it varies widely by state. For example, the average salary in a state like Massachusetts or California is over $62,000. The range goes even higher once you have experience!
Solar tech jobs are usually paid hourly. If you are making $62,000 a year, that boils down to around $31 per hour at 40 hours a week. If you find a position with overtime pay, then you could be earning even more.
For a full-time solar job, you should expect a wide range of benefits, including health, dental, and vision. While benefits vary by company and location, you should generally expect paid time off and retirement benefits, as well.
If that sounds appealing to you, remember that these jobs don’t always require experience, so apply now and join while you can!
Best Renewable Energy Career With Vocational Training
Wind turbine technician is a popular career path for those interested in green energy. There is more technical and mechanical work involved than solar, which fascinates many eager workers, and the job outlook is just as high! This is what you need to know about wind jobs.
Wind Technician Requirements
A high school diploma is all that is technically required for these positions, although there is usually more to it. Like many trades, it will only require some vocational training followed by long-term, on-the-job training similar to an apprenticeship.
Most wind technicians will need to undergo a 2-year technical training program to get started, but that is the only barrier of entry. From there, you will typically work as a laborer or apprentice for around 12 months before becoming a technician.
While a degree is not necessary, some college experience will help you land entry-level jobs in wind technology. An associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field will put you ahead of the competition.
On the Job
Wind technicians install, inspect, repair, maintain, and operate wind turbines. They will also have to collect data from wind turbine performance in order to conduct analysis and optimize their performance.
There will be a lot of physical requirements, as well as technical. You may have to carry or climb with parts weighing up to 45 pounds. Again, comfort with heights is essential to perform this job well.
This job requires a lot of troubleshooting and problem-solving skills. If you consider yourself a critical thinker, then you’ll be on track for a foreman job in no time!
Salary and Benefits
Salaries range widely for these positions based on years of experience, company, and location. However, a few years into your career, you should expect to earn at least $55,000. In many cases, that number is between $65,000 and $75,000.
Foremen in the wind industry earn at least $77,000, with salaries reaching into the 6-figures. For two years of training, that’s hard to beat!
These jobs are nearly always full-time, offering benefits like health, dental, and vision. There is usually generous time off and retirement options for workers, as well. You just have to know where to find these jobs.
Best High-Skilled Green Energy Jobs
Renewable energy engineering jobs are increasingly in high demand. We know how important it is to have people on the ground (or rooftop) doing the installation, but it all starts with proper design and planning.
If you’re looking to pursue a degree or if you already have one, then this is a career path to seriously consider. There are few jobs in the world that will offer this level of job security and salary prospects at the entry level. Here’s what you need to know.
Clean Energy Engineer Requirements
Engineering requires a bachelor’s degree at the very least. If you haven’t chosen a major for your college enrollment yet, consider specializing in renewable engineering, as this will give you a massive leg up on the competition.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in some form of engineering, manufacturing, or similar field, then consider pursuing a master’s degree in renewable energy engineering. This will lead to even higher salaries and almost guarantee you a job.
However, if you already hold a degree in engineering and you are looking to transition to clean energy, that is possible without getting another degree. Especially if you hold a bachelor’s or master’s in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, or construction engineering.
If you pursue one of these degrees, you will have options for a future career, including in the clean energy department.
On the Job
Engineering job descriptions will vary widely between positions but there are some commonalities.
There are many uses for skilled engineers when it comes to renewable energy sources. You will be working on designing and developing new technologies, improving electric grids, or troubleshooting a difficult installation.
There are a lot of moving parts involved in harnessing renewable energy sources and translating them to usable energy at the consumer level, and every part takes careful development and implementation. There is no shortage of roles for skilled engineers in the field.
Salary and Benefits
Engineers are typically paid well but in a high-demand field like the solar or wind energy market, you’re looking at high salaries, job security, and good benefits.
Across the US, the average salary for a renewable energy engineer is around $82,000, with prospects for 6-figures. These are almost uniformly full-time positions with benefits, and they make for a lasting career with a secure retirement. If you have the skills, give it a shot!
How To Get Started
Now that you know why renewable energy jobs are so popular, you’re probably wondering how you can get started on your new career. Well, we have good news for you! As we mentioned, the wind and solar market is only growing, so there are plenty of jobs available now. Stay up to date with our latest news and feel free to contact us about a new lucrative career!