Exploring the Green Job Opportunities in the Wind Energy Industry

Wind energy is a fast-growing green industry with some great green job opportunities for those looking to upgrade their skills or make a switch into something new.

Current Developments in the Wind Energy Industry

To understand your green career prospects in the wind business, you’ll need to know where the wind industry is heading. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said in their year-end report for 2010 that the future looks bright:

  • The industry attained a 50% domestic content for turbines in 2010
  • The market for smaller turbines grew 15% in 2010
  • 20% of the electricity supplying Iowa is now powered by utility-scale wind energy
  • 87% of Americans want more wind energy

Not only that, but the US Federal government voted to extend Section 1603, which provide tax credits for renewable energy, for one year, which will help this industry continue to grow in 2011. According to the US Energy Efficiency Administration, the following are the leading states by their wind energy capacity (2008 figures in thousand kilowatt hours):

  • Texas – 19,350,879
  • Iowa  – 7,331,391
  • California – 5,764,637
  • Minnesota – 4,956,987
  • Washington – 3,538,936
  • Oregon – 3,372,284
  • Colorado – 2,942,133
  • Illinois – 2,761,152
  • North Dakota – 2,756,289
  • Kansas – 2,385,107
  • Oklahoma – 2,271,590
  • New York – 2,258,904
  • Wyoming – 2,213,820
  • New Mexico – 1,543,715
  • Indiana – 1,403,192
  • Wisconsin – 1,059,126
  • Pennsylvania – 921,137
  • Montana – 810,815
  • West Virginia – 742,439
  • Missouri – 498,515

The Types of Green Jobs Available in the Wind Energy Industry

There are many ways you can gain a green job in the wind energy sector, depending on your interests, your skills, and the kind of work you’re looking to perform.

Here is a list of some of the green jobs available within the wind energy sector.

  • Wind development director: This is perhaps one of the most responsibility-intense positions in a wind farm as you will be responsible for leading and managing the development of a wind turbine farm through the research, analysis, modeling, and negotiating processes. This career usually requires advanced degrees in business, finance, economics, or accounting, and many years of experience.
  • Wind farm electrical systems designer: This career path involves designing all aspect of a wind farm collector system – both above and below ground. It usually requires a bachelor’s degree in electrical systems.
  • Wind field operations manager: Individuals in this field of work will be responsible for driving all site activities, including receiving, installation, and commissioning of a wind farm’s components.
  • Wind field technician: A person in this line of work will troubleshoot and repair components used in wind turbine operation. Many can get into this field with a high school diploma.
  • Wind generating installer: Be part of the assembly, installation, and maintenance of wind turbine electrical and mechanical systems including generators, rotors, alternators, and more with this career path.
  • Wind turbine electrical engineer: As the title implies, this job involves an electrical engineering degree. The scope of the job includes testing and development of all electrical components and equipment in a wind turbine design.
  • Wind turbine electro-mechanical technician: Professionals in this career will work on a wind installation and maintenance project from the ground up and are usually required to have an associate degree or trade school training in electrical and mechanical engineering.
  • Wind turbine machinist: These folks work with precision metal and plastic components and utilize computer programs to machine tools and operate machinery in wind turbine production. Training is usually through apprenticeship or trade schools in metalworking, computer sciences, drafting, and math.
  • Wind turbine mechanical engineer: Get into this career if you want to get a bachelors’ degree in mechanical engineering with a specialty in the design and testing of mechanical components of wind farms and machinery.
  • Wind turbine sheet metal worker: Like sheet metal workers in other industries, those specializing in wind energy will install and repair a variety of sheet metal products used in the production of wind turbines. You can get into this field usually through an apprenticeship or trade school.

Main Image Via Flickr: Lance Cheung

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at www.JadeCreative.ca.

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