Courses in a renewable energy technology associate's degree program expose students to building design and construction, energy efficiency, and the principles for installing and maintaining solar or wind power equipment. Some programs can be highly customized with renewable energy elective courses, while others allow students to concentrate on one renewable energy source.
Applicants to these programs will need a high school diploma or GED. A background in HVAC or electrical and plumbing is recommended.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Energy Management Technologies
- Environmental Engineering Technologies
- Environmental Health Engineering
- Hazardous Materials and Waste Mgmt. Technologies
- Heating, Venting, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration
- Solar Energy Technologies
- Water Quality and Treatment Technologies
Associate Degree in Renewable Energy
Curricula focus on the science of electricity and building construction, along with general education and major coursework. Classes often include hands-on experience with wind and solar power equipment. Some course topics may include:
- Renewable energy sources
- Designing energy efficient buildings
- Installing and maintaining electrical equipment
- Solar-generated power
- Wind power turbine systems
- Economic and environmental impact of renewable energy
Popular Career Options
In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) started identifying jobs in the green industry and keeping statistics for future publication (www.bls.gov). Earning an associate degree in renewable energy can prepare individuals for the following jobs:
- Renewable energy technician
- Wind turbine installer
- Photovoltaic (solar electricity) system installer
- Solar thermal system installer
- Renewable energy sales representative
Career Outlook and Salary Info
While the BLS does not provide specific information on wages in renewable energy, the organization did find that about 38% of the green jobs in the private sector were in the construction industry in 2009. In May of 2015, construction laborers earned a median salary of $31,910 per year, while managers earned $87,400.
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Graduates can pursue bachelor's degrees in renewable energy topics, such as renewable energy engineering or renewable energy management. Some schools offer a renewable energy specialization within a general engineering degree. Some credits from an associate degree program may transfer to 4-year programs.
Renewable energy jobs may be licensed, depending on the state. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (www.nabcep.org) offers several credential programs for renewable energy jobs. Certification for Photovoltaic (PV) Technical Sales, PV Installer, Solar Thermal Installer, and Small Wind Installer involves having a certain amount of education and work experience, as well as passing a national exam.
The American Solar Energy Society (www.ases.org) offers resources for professionals and consumers in solar energy technology, along with information about other renewable energy movements. The American Wind Energy Association (www.awea.org) has news and information for professionals and consumers about the technology and policy for wind energy.
Students interested in renewable energy can pursue an associate's degree that includes training in building construction and design. Green jobs are prevalent in the construction industry, and graduates can go on to earn advanced degrees and certifications.