Renewable energy is a rapidly growing multidisciplinary area, including business, environmental science, engineering, and social science. The negative consequences of fossil fuel usage and climate changes have fueled the demand for green energy in the last few decades. Renewable energy comes from natural sources, and the sustainable utilization of resources creates more jobs in many sectors.
According to IRENA Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Reviews 2020, the global renewable energy sector created approximately 11.5 million green jobs in 2019. Similarly, the IEA report- World Energy Outlook (2020) reported that the solar industry created more than 3 million jobs, mainly manufacturing and construction.
The increasing use of renewables and significant improvements in clean energy technologies generate a growing array of jobs. Currently, countries like EU countries, the USA, China, Brazil, UK, Japan, India, Australia, and New Zealand are creating more jobs. However, rural electrification projects have created many green jobs, especially in the least developed countries. Solar installations for home and business, small-sized biogas plants, mini-grids etc., are creating an increasing number of renewable energy jobs in rural areas worldwide.
More importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic propelled the use of renewables in many sectors like transportation, heating and cooling, and electrification. The decisions made by the governments and the policymakers will have a significant impact on investments, infrastructure development and deployment of clean energy, which will, in turn, impact the employment opportunities from local to national levels.
Trends of Renewable Energy Jobs
Now, more than ever, the green and sustainable energy sector create many job opportunities. However, it mainly requires engineers, technologists, and project managers. Employees in this sector also include business analysts, consultants, architects, designers, and researchers.
Currently, over 11 million people are working in the renewable energy sector worldwide. The figure below shows the green energy technology-wise job numbers in the clean energy sector worldwide.
Source: IRENA jobs database
The growth of the green energy sector will increase job opportunities. IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) Transforming Energy Scenario states that jobs in the renewable energy sector could triple and reach up to 42 million by 2050. Overall, the total jobs could reach up to 100 million by then (IRENA, 2020).
Top 15 Renewable Energy Jobs with Salary
There are many types of jobs in this industry. These jobs spread across different areas within the industry, including solar, hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal, etc.
Renewable energy jobs, like any other job, seek qualifications and skills. There are specific requirements you need to fulfil to get a job in this sector. The conditions and salary depend on the job position.
Below are the top 15 renewable energy careers with their salaries.
1. Renewables Master Planner
Master Planners in renewable energy manage the main production schedule before starting the operation process. They play an active role in the overall planning of renewable energy projects. They also provide advice in the acquisition of the required materials for the project.
Furthermore, Master Planners work on inventory analysis for project cost expenditures and work with different organizations to study potential impacts in the socio-economic and environmental sector.
To work as a Master Planner, you need a Bachelor's or master's degree or equivalent. Moreover, you also require years of prior work experience in the energy industry. However, the experiences and the educational background depends upon the scale of the project.
Average salary: Approx. $75,000 per year
The Director of Solar Acquisitions finds investment opportunities and analyzes them. The primary tasks include conceiving and structuring acquisitions, partnerships, and financing in various solar energy markets.
Furthermore, they should work together with the team and conduct discussions regarding acquisitions and other activities in the solar industry.
To work as a Director of Solar Acquisitions, you need a Bachelor's or Master's degree in business administration, finance, or engineering. In addition, you must have at least five years of work experience in the relevant industry.
Average salary: $45,000 - $55,000 per year
The primary task of a Grid Integration Engineer is to manage and operate an energy storage system, including battery and smart grid integration.
The goal is to fulfil the client's financial and operational expectations by planning, designing, and implementing the power integration process.
To work as a Grid Integration Engineer, you need a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. In addition, you should have 3 to 5 years of experience in electric power systems operation, including energy storage and renewable energy generation design.
Average salary: $85,000-$90,000 per year
The job of a Renewable Energy Communication Manager is to communicate and publish report materials. They also prepare and implement internal communication strategies and plans for renewable energy companies.
In addition, they must ensure the outreach of the company's mission to its stakeholders and customers. Therefore, they are the critical people for all the clean energy company's internal and external communications.
The manager should collaborate with engineers, data analysts, scientists, and other personnel to engage in company priorities and tasks.
To work as a Communication Manager, you must be a creative, initiative, and strategic thinker. Also, you must have good communication skills. Further, you should have a Bachelor's degree in science writing, journalism, marketing, or communication.
Average salary: $65,000 per year
A Renewable Energy Estimator estimates the capital cost of renewable energy projects. The estimation is made based on market research to complete the project cost-effective without compromising the quality and environmental damage.
To work as a Renewable Estimator, you should have a high school diploma or GED (General Educational Diploma). In addition, you need 3 to 5 years of experience in the respective renewable energy industry.
Average salary: $75,000- $80,000 per year
Solar Project Developers work on the overall project management and project development. They also work on project site acquisitions, constructions, financing, and reporting.
Furthermore, they deal with other team members, including engineers, financial analysts, commercial teams, and lawyers, to make the projects successfully within the timeframe.
This job is one of the highest-paying jobs in the renewable energy industry. It also has a high demand.
To become a Solar Project Developer, you must have more than five years of experience in the relevant field of solar and power plant development projects. You should have a Master's degree in engineering or business is a great advantage for this position.
Average salary: $85,000 per year
A Renewable Energy Designer creates designs for residential and small commercial purposes. This job primarily includes designing solar power systems, energy storage, battery backup systems, electric pool heating, geothermal plants, wind turbines, biofuel plants, and other renewable power systems. Depending upon their role, the job titles could be Wind Turbine Designer, Biogas Plant Designer, Solar Plant Designer etc.
The designer conducts site visits, communicates with clients, analyzes their needs, checks location, and starts the design using mathematics, physics, and other scientific principles.
To work as a Renewable Energy Designer, you should have at least 3 to 5 years of working experience in specific renewable energy sector designing.
Average salary: $75,000 - $80,000 per year
Biofuel (process) engineer research and analyze the biofuel production process and make significant improvements in the biofuel production process. They focus mainly on assessing equipment and the biofuel production process from an economic and environmental point of view.
To work as a Biofuel Engineer, you need to have at least a PhD or Post Doctorate from a recognized University. Mostly, it is a research-based job.
Average salary: $80,000 - $90,000 per year
Energy Consultants play a significant role in lead generation and client acquisitions. In addition, they acquire persuasive skills to convince and help the clients to consider clean energy solutions and replace the current electric systems with renewable energy systems.
Furthermore, Energy Consultants understand and analyze clients' requirements and help them by designing energy-efficient buildings, delivering cost-effective and sustainable energy strategies. They are also mediators between clients, installers, and utility companies. They also keep the clients updated with relevant information and energy usage data.
To become a sales consultant, you need to have excellent communication skills and technical equipment sales skills. In addition, you must at least have a high school degree. Depending upon your knowledge and experiences, you can work as an Energy Sales Consultant, Energy management Consultant, or Energy-efficient Consultant.
Average salary: $50,000 per year
Energy Law Associate in renewable energy works on basics legal laws related to energy technologies. They mainly suggest legal advice and counsel to clients directly. So, they obtain client-based resources and training. Law associates prepare agreement drafts of the projects addressing the legal issues, such as land agreement, construction agreement, energy purchase agreement, energy supply agreement etc.
To become an Energy Law Associate, you must have worked in the energy, environment, or technology industry in the past. Further, you should be a valid member of the State Bar and have a Juris Doctor degree.
Average salary: $90,000 per year
An Energy Analyst conducts audits, feasibility assessments, and data analysis. They also conduct research and prepare reports on energy efficiency assessments to assess the performance of their energy project.
You need a bachelor's degree in engineering, architecture, or environmental science to work as an energy analyst. Furthermore, you need excellent skills and knowledge in analytics and market-based energy research.
Average salary: $60,000- $65,000 per year
Energy Transition Technical Specialist is one of the high-end renewable energy jobs. They develop and deliver clean energy alternatives and technical solutions to clients by working with energy analysts and team members. They are also responsible for computer networking solutions. Furthermore, the energy specialist also develops plans and activities to reduce fossil fuel usage.
You need at least 15 years of experience in the renewable energy sector to work in this job. You must have a Bachelor's or Master's degree in computer engineering. In addition, you must be a professional engineer license holder.
Average salary: $100,000 per year
Wind Operations Leader works with customers and other stakeholders of the company. The main job is to assess and identify new growth opportunities.
Moreover, they manage the team members, implement teamwork, and reduce workload.
To work as a Wind Operations Leader, you must have a business-oriented mindset, a Bachelor's degree, and at least five years of work experience in the wind power industry. You need to have good leadership and communication skills along with critical thinking abilities.
Average salary: $80,000 – $90,000 per year
A Solar Energy Advisor communicates directly with clients who are looking for efficient energy opportunities. Their clients are usually homeowners and small businesses.
The main job is to help and guide the clients throughout the entire solar installation process, such as equipment purchase, installation, connection, and so forth.
To work as a Solar Energy Advisor, you must have experience in the sales of technical products. In addition, you must acquire skills in the energy industry and its measurement processes. You may need to have a bachelor's degree in engineering, business or a related field focusing on analytical, business, communication, and research skills.
Average salary: $65,000 per year
A Wind Turbine Technician install, maintain, operate, and repair wind turbines. They perform routine maintenance of the wind turbines. Sometimes they fix and replace the old and malfunctioning components of wind turbines. Therefore, their tasks are mostly outdoors, in confined spaces or great heights. They also collect and analyze data to keep the wind turbine fully functional.
It is one of the fastest-growing clean energy jobs. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this job will grow by 108 percent by 2024.
You need a high school diploma to be eligible for this job.
Besides these top 15 renewable energy jobs, there are other many types of employment depending upon the company needs, such as environmental consultant, Global account manager, Researcher, Project lead, Solar Installer, Wind Turbine Developer etc.
Solar installation job (Photo by Science in HD on Unsplash)
Future of Renewable energy jobs
The world is suffering from environmental and health concerns because of the excessive use of fossil fuels. Climate change and global warming are the negative consequences of fossil fuel usage.
Renewable energy is the future. The solution to environmental concerns is an alternative source of energy. Renewable energy resources include energy generated from solar, wind, biomass, hydro, and geothermal. The growth of such resources will create a better future for coming generations.
To develop the renewable energy sector, we must form companies that develop innovative solutions. Renewable energy jobs will be better for individuals and make a significant impact on the environment. Therefore, clean energy jobs are for those who want job security and are concerned about the environment.
Within a few years, millions of people worldwide are going to be working for this industry. As a result, sustainable energy jobs are going to grow massively.
There are many jobs in different fields of this industry. Some jobs require years of work experience, while others need excellent skills. Some even seek high academic qualifications. Depending upon your skills, qualifications, and experience, you can get a job in various renewable energy sectors.
Renewable Energy Degrees
Green jobs demand high academic knowledge, professional and vocational training skills etc., depending upon the type of the jobs. In most cases, you need to have both technical background and commercial skills.
A career in renewable energy is sound financial and makes a positive impact on the environment. Moreover, technological innovations have made it easier for this sector to enhance further.
Colleges and universities worldwide provide degrees and vocational training in this sector. They can pursue Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees in renewable energy.
Students studying Bachelor's degrees learn primarily designing, installing, and repairing green energy systems for residential, commercial and industrial purposes. They will learn about energy storage technology, photovoltaic cells, biofuel production processes, wind power technology, hydro energy, geothermal energy, and energy efficiency. After completing Bachelor's degree in Renewable energy, the students can find jobs mainly in the operation and maintenance of clean energy projects.
With a Master's degree, students learn clean energy technological design, development and applications. They will gain knowledge on upgrading existing energy systems and creating more advanced and innovative ones. Furthermore, they will learn about auditing energy use from the manufacturing process, fuel cells. Also, they gain insight, skills and knowledge on how to use energy efficiency and management techniques in residential, industrial and other commercial purposes.
A PhD in renewable energy will develop innovative solutions to address energy issues and understand energy systems, including energy production and distribution.
Clean energy jobs are for those people who want to save the planet and also have job security. They can get a job in different areas of the industry—solar, wind, hydro, biomass, geothermal, etc.
Some of the primary jobs in this sector include technicians, managers, engineers, analysts, operators, business developers, installers, etc. In addition, graduates in business, finance, law, technology, and management can get a job in the renewable energy sector.
A few examples of renewable energy jobs are solar energy technician, biofuels processing technician, electrical engineer, power plant operator, solar energy installation managers, wind energy engineers, business analysts, energy efficiency technician and more.
To get a job in Renewable Energy, you need to acquire skills. Get a degree in sustainable energy because most jobs require you to have one. A Bachelor's degree in Renewable Energy will be advantageous. But if you want a high-end position, get a Master's degree too.
However, you can be an expert in other fields and still work in renewable energy. For instance, you can have a degree in engineering, management, and technology and work in this industry.
All sustainable energy jobs do not need a degree. For example, you do not need a degree to become a solar installer or a wind technician. But you should have prior experience in the field. Get the expertise through education, training, and work. Then, depending on your area of interest, find ways to work in this industry.
Besides skills and experience, be passionate, talk to other specialists, learn more, research, take training, and build your network.
Yes, renewable energy is the best career choice. Climate change is a global concern at the moment. The leading cause of climate change is non-renewable energy resources (fossil fuels) such as oil, natural gas, petroleum, coal, etc.
The study of renewable energy provides opportunities for developing better alternatives to non-renewable energy resources. In addition, the innovation of renewable energy technologies will positively impact the environment in the future.
With renewable energy degrees, graduates can work and build a promising career in energy studies. The study of green energy has the ultimate goal of sustainable living and a vibrant future. This sector will see massive growth in the years to come. The universities are also likely to promote energy studies more in the coming years.
Students can choose energy studies at different levels of their careers. They can obtain Bachelor's degrees, Master's degrees, and doctorate degrees in sustainable energy.
However, all jobs do not require high-level degrees. Some jobs, like installers and technicians, need only a high school diploma. But if you have a degree, you can have a better position, working experience, and earnings.
There is a shortage of skilled professionals in the clean energy sector. So, there are various opportunities for people who have an interest in the energy field.
With the growing industry, renewable energy jobs are also growing. For instance, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the US. Further, this job is expected to grow by 60.7 percent by 2029. Similarly, solar installers are also one of the fastest-growing jobs in the sector. They are estimated to grow by 50.5 percent by 2029.
Moreover, universities worldwide provide renewable energy degrees to students interested in the field. With a high number of students graduating each year with a renewable energy degree, there will surely be a high demand for renewable energy jobs in the future.