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Career Definition for a Sustainable Energy Technologist
A sustainable energy technologist is a broad term for a worker who performs 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 impacts of energy systems through an understanding of energy production, delivery, consumption and waste disposal.
|Education||Bachelor's in engineering or engineering technology recommended|
|Job Skills||Math, science, communication and computing|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$70,010 (sustainability specialists)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||5 to 9% (sustainability specialists)|
Source: *O*NET OnLine
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.
As the name implies, sustainable energy technology requires a fascination with emerging technology and an aptitude for math, science, communications and computing. In addition, a desire and curiosity to improve the current energy delivery system and minimize its impact on our environment is required.
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 $70,010, as of 2017. Projected job growth is average, with a 5% to 9% increase in jobs expected from 2016-2026.
Alternate Career Options
Here are some other choices for careers in energy technology:
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 2016-2026 decade, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported an annual median wage of $69,400 for these professionals, including industrial ecologists, in 2017. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field of science.
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 an average growth of 8% in available jobs from 2016-2026, and revealed an annual median salary of $86,800 for environmental engineers in 2017.