Wind Energy Colleges & Careers
In the past few years, the wind industry has grown at a rate of 30 - 45% each year. This explosive growth opens up more and more jobs every year. According to the American Wind Energy Association (awea.org), the U.S. wind industry already employs about 85,000 domestic workers. They estimate that by the year 2030, the wind industry could support 500,000 jobs across a variety of fields: construction, manufacturing, engineering, marketing, consulting, environmental services, technicians, and more. This page will provide you with some resources to learn about the jobs available in the wind industry and how to prepare yourself to get these jobs.
Colleges and Training Programs
If you are interested in a wind energy specific training program, check out the following links. There are a handful of schools offering degrees in wind energy technology or renewable energy science. More and more schools are offering programs each year.
- Wind Powering America - Wind Energy Educational Programs
- Consortium for Education in Renewable Energy Technology
- Iowa Lakes Community College - Wind Energy & Turbine Technology
- Mesalands Community College - Wind Energy Technology
- Appalachian State University - Appropriate Technology Degree
- Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center
- Minnesota West Community and Technical College - Wind Energy Technology A.A.S.
- University of Massachusetts Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment
- Illinois Institute of Technology Energy and Sustainability Institute
- Lakeshore Technical College - Wind Energy Technology
- Ecotech Institute - Denver, CO
Careers in Wind Energy
In thinking about a wind energy career, it is first important to think about all the expertise that goes into a wind energy project. What does it take to install a wind turbine?
- Utility Engineers
- Geophysical Engineers
- Concrete/Structural Engineers
- Turbine Engineering - Mechanical Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Aerospace Engineers
- Site/Civil Engineers
- Turbine Technicians
- Microelectronic/Computer Programmers
- Business Expertise (financial)
- Legal Expertise
- Meteorologists to forecast wind
- Transportation Logistics
- Environmental Consultants
As you can see from the list above, many jobs in the field of wind energy research require a mechanical, computer, or electrical engineering background. However, there are various jobs available to anyone with the drive and enthusiasm to pursue them. Students who study technical skills, business, science, public policy, or even liberal arts can all find jobs in the wind industry. There is currently a very high demand for wind turbine technicians, design engineers, proposal writers, construction managers, large load transportation specialists, utility program managers, and much more. According to ScienceCareers.org, the five most important topics in wind energy research include:
- Turbine research - involves research to improve turbine design (aerodynamics), understanding the nature of wind (inflow and turbulence), and using computer models to design efficient and low-cost turbines (modeling structures and dynamics).
- Wind resource assessment - provides maps of a country or state/province that includes specific wind data such as average wind speed and its variability.
- Forecasting - uses weather models (i.e. Doppler radar) to predict wind speeds and patterns at various altitudes. It also uses old data to predict how the wind will behave.
- Utility grid integration--integrates the energy produced by wind into a utility grid. New techniques and models will ensure that grid operators can manage variable-output technologies like wind and solar with maximum efficiency.
- Energy storage--uses technology to store wind energy as electricity. Some methods include converting it to chemical energy (like hydrogen), and flywheels.
Information from ScienceCareers.org - Careers in Wind Energy
What jobs are available now in the wind industry?
Check out the links below to see some jobs currently being offered in the wind industry. Checking out these jobs will give you an idea of what companies are looking for and what skills/experience you need to get one of these careers.