10 Different Careers in Wind Energy
With the United Nation’s annual report on climate change making it clear that renewable energies are an important path forward, wind energy is among the sectors considered a viable alternative to fossil fuels. Wind energy output recently surpassed the use of coal and jobs in renewables are expected to grow much faster than average through 2029. The sector has become especially appealing as its costs are down and its production up; wind produces twice as much electricity as solar. If you want a career of the future today, consider one of the many different paths you might take in wind energy.
Wind Farm Project Developer
Long before a turbine appears on the horizon, it is an idea, a plan, and a project. If you chose to work on a wind farm project development team, you would be involved in many steps along the way to construction. Choosing a site, gaining local support, and applying for permits are only the start. You might need to work with designers, architects, and scientists. You might need to strategize with engineers and meteorologists to consider how best to lay out wind turbines and analyze potential power generation. There will be public hearings and meetings. And there are employee and contractor negotiations. So, the next time you see a turbine moving gently in the wind, you might wonder: how long did it take to get that there?
As a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) specialist, you would design, develop, manage, and maintain digital maps that use geospatial data. Critical to site planning, these maps show characteristics such as land parcel boundaries, transmission lines, infrastructure, environmentally sensitive areas, land cover, wind resources, turbine micro-siting, and topography. They include a wide variety of data points that they are essential to wind energy. As you consider topography, these maps can also include area land use, population density, incline, distance to transmission lines, and average wind speed.
When you think of aerospace, you might think of rocket ships. But aerospace engineers can specialize in the design of wind turbines. The goal is to improve the technology to increase the amount of energy that a turbine can produce with each revolution. Most aerospace engineers have at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and many go on for a Master’s degree or PhD.
Wind Energy Engineer
As a wind energy engineer, your focus would be on the research, design, and development of all the mechanical systems, components, and tools used in the industry. From turbines and rotor blades to electrical and energy production systems, there are many areas where engineering expertise is needed. You might study the aerodynamic properties of new designs and run tests. You might oversee the manufacture and testing of components. With an eye on productivity and efficiency, you would always be looking to improve results.
Wind Farm Manager
As a wind farm or wind energy operations manager, you would be responsible for the daily operations of your plant. Your role would be to direct operations for energy production and performance and oversee plant operations, maintenance, and repair. You would ensure that your staff maintained the equipment and that the turbines generate the expected amount of energy. You would handle contractors and equipment support teams, and would help recruit, hire, and train new employees. You’d also be responsible for plant safety. And you’d work with upper management and utility companies. Among the more challenging jobs you’d have would be to maintain schedules that would respond to changes in energy demands or system faults. When someone using wind power across the state turns on a switch, it’d be up to you to make sure that the power goes on.
Wind Farm Finance Manager
Wind farms don’t just produce energy; they produce profits. As a wind farm finance manager, you’d start from the beginning to ensure profitability. From construction loans, investor relations, and tax exemptions, there would be a range of topics you’d need to consider. You would need to understand the wind energy market and your own organization to properly assess value propositions and opportunities and report up to the Chief Financial Officer and other stakeholders. You might also be involved with more day-to-day accounting processes such as accounts payable, bookkeeping, and tax reporting.
Wind Energy Analyst
A lot of prework goes into any wind project. As a wind energy analyst, you would help determine potential site locations and where to place wind turbines to yield the greatest amount of wind from a farm. You would gather a variety of wind, weather, and site data to select a location and choose equipment. Done correctly, your work can greatly improve the return on investment for a wind energy project. If this part of the process isn’t completed correctly, the project can take years longer to show a financial return.
Wind Turbine Inspector
As a wind turbine inspector, your main role is to inspect the blades and facility to ensure they are functioning properly. With a deep knowledge of wind turbine blade technology, you will inspect the blades using drones. You will need data analysis skills to detect performance degradation and damage. Whether you work for an organization or as a consultant, you would report your findings to upper management or appropriate agencies.
Wind energy marketers sell the energy produced by wind farms. In this role, you would need extensive knowledge of wind energy markets. You would meet with power buyers such as utilities, and build relationships, write proposals, and negotiate power purchase agreements. You also need to gather data on consumers, competitors, and market conditions. This job requires a lot of travel and has the potential to grow as the industry does.
Renewable Energy Consultant
With the right background and experience, you could become a consultant for renewable energies including wind. You would work with clients to make recommendations regarding the installation of renewable energy systems. You might conduct on-site building assessments to determine current energy consumption and research renewable savings alternatives. Then, you’d make recommendations and oversee the installation of the new energy system. As a consultant, you’d need to know how to analyze and evaluate alternative energy technologies from a wide range of data sources.
Are you interested in wind energy? At National American University, we offer a Bachelor’s degree in Energy Management that can introduce you to all kinds of energies and roles you might have in a variety of industries, including wind. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or request more info today.