With Washington, DC sinking approximately $46 billion into the construction of a renewable energy infrastructure, the green industry stands among our nation’s fastest growing employment sectors, particularly wind and solar energy. The lion’s share of available jobs (as much as 65%) come via corporations whose missions target the recycling of waste, the reduction of greenhouse emissions, and water conservation. According to Neal Lurie of the American Solar Energy Society, utility companies are rapidly responding to the green initiative through the establishment of substantial solar energy components within their business models.
In addition to various science and engineering positions pivotal to the growth of the clean energy industry, which other job titles will benefit from these developments, and how do career aspirants access those occupations? Manufacturers of the turbine engines vital to the production of renewable energy require skilled assembly line workers, including production schedulers and supervisors. Wind farms, solar parks, and biofuel plants demand skilled mechanics, electricians, and maintenance workers to sustain the facilities’ operation at peak efficiency and safety. Does the word “skilled” render the contents of this article a moot point for candidates untested in this industry?
Those with broad-based, non-technical abilities already possess the competencies to transition into this field with relative ease. These include but are not limited to accountants, shipping, receiving, and warehousing personnel, and customer service representatives. Electricians, plumbers, and other individuals whose abilities are technical in nature can benefit from some retraining. Of that $46 billion in governmental funding, $500 million is earmarked for job training, some of which is available via community colleges. Along with general business courses, these institutions have added specialized training courses to their syllabi, including solar panel installation, wind turbine repair, and processing of biofuels. Capitalizing on their existing foundations of technical expertise, after a relatively brief period of training, an electrician, for instance, can be qualified to install solar panels while a plumber can be reeducated in the installation of solar thermal water heaters.
Annual payroll compensation for careers in this sector begins at approximately $26,400 for an energy audit specialist and escalates to $93,300 for a physicist. Insulation workers earn about $30,800 per annum, recycling workers and environmental engineer technicians average $41,000, while microbiologists command $64,600 and environmental engineers, $76,000 (source: a 2009 study conducted jointly by Management Information Services and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Whether armed with relevant training or transitioning an existing skill set, research and realism are the keys for opening doors onto this growing field. Further assistance as well as potential jobs can be found on websites created and maintained by the American Solar Energy Society, Renewable Energy World and Sustainable Business.
Your research will uncover, among other critical factors, the geographic areas in which the green jobs are more highly concentrated. Oregon leads the nation in clean energy jobs, with more than 1% of its workforce employed in this sector. The State’s overall unemployment rate is not as healthy: nearly 10% for 33 of its 36 counties as reported for May 2009. However, other States are currently viable and will be even more practical once the economy begins to stabilize. These include Maine, whose green jobs per capita closely rival Oregon; also offering a higher-than-average number of jobs in the field are Massachusetts, Minnesota, Colorado, Idaho, and California. The State of Colorado favors wind energy and Arizona benefits from one of its natural resources with an emphasis on solar energy. Interestingly, The Garden State (New Jersey) is also assertively embracing solar energy, as demonstrated by utility companies investing heavily in new projects powered by the sun.
For job hunters seeking career stability, resourcefulness and focus can pave the way into the expanding field of renewable clean energy.