Passionate about making a difference to the environment? Fancy getting paid to be an Eco Warrior? As the demand for clean energy increases, so too does the varieties of jobs available in the renewable energy sector. Some of the opportunities available – sales and marketing, HR, finance – are the kind that can be found in any sector; others careers require substantially more specialized knowledge.
Here is an overview of a few sector-specific career options that are in demand now.
- Duties. Fancy researching the next generation of solar panels for homes? Materials scientists work in the laboratory to design and test new solar cells. They might wish to develop new technology to make solar cells cheaper, more efficient or lighter. Once the scientists have developed a solar panel material, they will need to convince others to adopt it.
- Education Background & Skills. A strong scientific background is a must – employment opportunities are available at B.S, M.S, and PhD levels – materials scientists are traditionally educated in chemistry or physics. Mathematical aptitude is also a necessity. The ability to clearly communicate scientific findings – oral and written – will be a big part of the job.
- Opportunities. Materials scientists can work in government, multinational companies or at small start-ups.
- Duties. Before any new renewable energy generator is installed – be it wind turbine farm, geothermal reservoir or hydro-electric dam – an environmental scientist has to assess the impact such an installation would have on the surrounding area. Such a role would involve conducting fieldwork in the target area, preparing environmental reports and remaining aware of the legal aspects of land rights.
- Education Background & Skills. Similar to Materials Scientists, a science degree is the minimal requirement. Knowledge of biology, chemistry and geography is helpful. People who enjoy being outside, away from a conventional office will be the most suited to fieldwork. High levels of observation and analytical skills will be needed, as will the ability to work well in teams.
- Opportunities. As with Materials Scientists, opportunities are available in a variety of businesses. Environmental scientists have a role in wind power, geothermal, hydroelectric and biomass companies.
- Duties. The sight of solar panels covering homes is a lot more common as the price of the technology goes down, and as consumers start to see the financial benefits of creating their own energy. Someone has to go out and install all those panels.
- Education Background & Skills. This isn’t a job that needs an advanced degree, or even a degree at all. Familiarity with construction or engineering is needed, however. Special certification courses are available from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Installers will be working directly with homeowners and businesses, making customer service skills important to have.
- Opportunities. Where there is sunshine, there are employment opportunities. Installers can work for companies or act as freelance agents.
Wind Farm Developer
- Duties. Wind farms are sprawling constructions and require a lot of workers before the first turbine is even installed. In beginning the land needs to be acquired. If the farm is in a remote location – as most of them are – there will need to be a lot of logistical co-ordination to get the all required materials and workers to the site to construct the turbines. Once the turbines are in place and working, then the land itself still needs to be looked after.
- Education Background & Skills. Some sort of basic or advanced degree will be necessary in the fields of Business, Law, or Engineering, depending on the exact job description. Developers have to work well with large teams and be exceedingly well organized. Overseeing a large construction project will require excellent communication and leadership.
- Opportunities. Some large business will contract out their wind farm development work to smaller companies, while others keep the whole process in-house. There is also a demand for independent consultants who can advise wind farm businesses on legal/technical issues related to their projects.
The demand for renewable energy is strong and growing. There are jobs in the area to suit almost every background, skill-set and work environment preference. Whatever career you desire, you will find it in the renewable energy sector.