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Sustainable Energy Technologist: Job Duties & Career Requirements

Sustainable energy technologist is a term that refers to any technical career in the renewable energy field. This field is composed of five sub-fields: wind power, solar power, bioenergy, geothermal and hydro-electric power. All require engineering education in addition to specialization. Read on to learn about other requirements, in addition to salary and employment outlook info, to see if this field is the right one for you.

Career Definition for a Sustainable Energy Technologist

A sustainable energy technologist is a broad term for a career that encompasses any technical aspect of work in any of the multitude of sustainable energy fields, which includes wind power, solar power, hydropower, geothermal and bioenergy.

According to CareerOneStop, a collaborative web site between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education, as green technology becomes more commercially viable, an increasing number of both professional and skilled workers will be needed to sell, manufacture, design, construct, install, and maintain the spectrum of equipment involved in each type of sustainable energy at every stage.

Sustainable energy technologists also perform structural audits for energy efficiency and conservation, ensure regulatory compliance and understand the basic economic, environmental and social impact of energy systems through an understanding of energy production, delivery and consumption and waste disposal.

EducationBachelor's in engineering or engineering technology recommended
Job SkillsMath, science, communication, and computing
Median Salary (2015)*$68,170 (all business operations specialists)
Job Growth (2014-2024)*5 to 8% (all business operations specialists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*NET OnLine

Required Education

A career as a sustainable energy technologist, regardless of specialization, requires a solid engineering technology background accompanied by a concentration in wind power, solar power, bioenergy, geothermal or hydropower coursework, which may include thermodynamics, aeronautical or electrical engineering, biology, agriculture or environmental studies.

Employment is available at all levels of education. However, a bachelor's degree in engineering or engineering technology is recommended for this highly skilled, evolving industry. A master's degree or higher will be required for research and development, which is a large component of this field, especially in advanced positions.

Skills Required

As the name implies, sustainable energy technology requires a fascination with emerging technology and an aptitude for math, science, communications and computing in addition to a desire and curiosity to improve the current energy delivery system and minimize its impact on our environment.

Career and Economic Outlook

The trend toward renewable energy has morphed from fad to necessity among consumers, providers and governments. Favorable tax treatments mean a growth in jobs, particularly in states such as Oregon, Montana and California, which have a history of progressive environmental policies. Salaries depend upon education.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a business operations specialist, including one working in the field of sustainability, brought in a median annual salary of $68,170, as of 2015. Projected job growth is slower than average with a 5% to 8% increase in jobs expected from 2014-2024.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some other choices for careers in energy technology:

Industrial Ecologist

These ecologists help industrial companies perform their operations with limited impact on the environment. Faster than average employment growth of 11% was predicted for environmental scientists and specialists during the 2014-2024 decade. The BLS also reported an annual median wage of $67,460 for these professionals, including industrial ecologists, in 2015. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field of science.

Environmental Engineer

With a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering or a related field of engineering, these professionals find solutions to a variety of environmental problems. The BLS projected faster than average growth of 12% in available jobs, from 2014-2024, and revealed an annual median salary of $84,560 for environmental engineers in 2015.

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