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

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, 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.

Becoming a Sustainable Energy Technologist

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 O*NET OnLine, sustainability specialists brought in a median annual salary of $65,120, as of 2012. Projected job growth is slower than average with a 3% to 7% increase in jobs expected from 2012-2022.

Alternate Career Options

Industrial Ecologist

These ecologists help industrial companies perform their operations with limited impact on the environment. Faster than average employment growth of 15% to 21% was predicted for this profession by O*NET OnLine, during the 2012-2022 decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median wage of $63,570 for all environmental scientists and technicians, including industrial ecologists, in 2012. 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 15% in available jobs, from 2012-2022, and revealed an annual median salary of $80,890 for environmental engineers in 2012.

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