Due to aging infrastructure plus new funding sources, the energy grid in the U.S. is in the midst of an exciting evolution. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational data predicts that renewable energy jobs, especially those in wind and solar, are among the fastest-growing employment opportunities in the country.
With increasing support for and meaningful investment in climate change solutions from both the public and private sectors, renewable energy technologies are becoming more affordable. This trend escalates the demand for individuals with the skills and experience to install, monitor, and educate about these resources.
Obtaining the Skills You Need
For those interested in pursuing a career in the renewable energy field, you can take some key educational and professional steps. In most cases, technical-leaning positions require an associate or bachelor’s degree. Popular specialties include environmental science, engineering, chemistry, and mathematics. Individuals interested in the sales and marketing side of renewable energy might instead focus on a business or economics degree.
However, there are plenty of entry-level jobs in the renewable energy industry that don’t require a formal degree. Growing evidence supports that real-world knowledge and practical work experience are more desirable for today’s employers, leading many companies to rely on skills-based hiring methods rather than mandating formal degree requirements.
Interested individuals might instead seek out targeted (and more affordable) certificate programs in the field, professional courses, and other nontraditional degree options. Moreover, many renewable energy companies provide training as part of the onboarding process.
Entry-Level Opportunities in the Renewable Energy Field
Here is a list of renewable energy entry-level career options for people with non-traditional degrees.
Residential Energy Advisor
Residential energy advisors travel to different locations to consult with homeowners on energy efficiency opportunities. Responsibilities include conducting a basic energy audit and assessing the home’s average energy usage.
Residential energy advisors offer strategies to homeowners for energy savings. These strategies can include renewable energy installation opportunities (and associated tax breaks), in addition to ways to upgrade aspects of the house, such as appliances and windows, for improved energy efficiency.
In many cases, employers for residential energy advisors seek few requirements. Most prefer candidates who can present themselves professionally, safely travel to different locations, and communicate well. Hiring managers want coachable, positive, and solution-focused people.
Solar Sales Representative
Solar companies rely on motivated salespeople to identify potential customers. As a solar sales representative, you’ll apply essential sales and marketing strategies to help increase solar installations in your assigned territory. You’ll likely work on commission. As such, this type of position offers plenty of scheduling flexibility and earning potential.
To pursue a solar sales representative job, you must possess excellent customer service skills and natural tenacity. Employers prefer candidates with some education and professional sales experience, but these qualifications aren’t often set in stone.
You can become a solar or wind energy installer without a traditional degree. Installation technicians work at a solar or wind site to provide basic assembly and maintenance. You’ll facilitate safety inspections, weather-proofing, and testing. This position can be physically demanding, and candidates should be comfortable with heights.
Entry-level wind turbine and solar technicians typically need a high school diploma, some education in the field (whether through a technical school or certificate program), and related experience. You could first seek an internship or apprenticeship opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge. However, many employers provide on-the-job training for any required technical and safety expertise.
The green energy sector needs motivated administrative and outreach personnel to connect with and educate consumers. You could find customer service positions within energy companies (many of which are actively investing in green energy initiatives) or apply for program coordinator roles within a climate change organization. Responsibilities for these positions often include coordinating schedules, planning events, compiling data for reports, and supporting team members in various ways.
Employers for these types of jobs often prefer individuals with some knowledge of green energy plus an administrative certification, but a formal degree is optional. Instead, successful candidates are organized, proactive, positive, and able to multi-task. Some computer-based competency is necessary.
Find a Job in Renewable Energy
Job opportunities in the clean energy sector have a wide range of expertise and an exciting capacity for growth. If you have the passion and some basic professional skills, you have many entry-level directions from which to choose. From sales to installation to education, there is no one-size-fits-all path to succeed in this flourishing field.
Search the Insight Global jobs board to find current job openings in renewable energy.