A career in green energy offers job seekers unlimited growth potential in this multifaceted and continuously developing field. Not only that, but establishing a career in an area that benefits the environment and humanity makes for a rewarding day-to-day experience. Green Development LLC has been transforming Rhode Island’s energy portfolio since 2009 and is now the top developer of large-scale renewable energy projects in the state—creating local job opportunities in construction, design, engineering, project management, corporate finance, and project maintenance. In this article, Green Development LLC highlights growing career opportunities across the green energy field and the qualifications required to land the job.
Green Energy Job Market Outlook
While the COVID-19 pandemic slowed job growth rates across the board, employment in the energy sector was double that of the general economy between 2015 and 2019. This is largely due to the rapidly growing clean energy industry, which has generated the most jobs across America’s energy sector. Recent analysis compiled from data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that clean energy has created three times the employment opportunities compared to the fossil fuel industry, with pay rates 25% higher than the national median wage. In fact, more Americans are choosing clean energy professions than traditional employment options, such as middle and elementary school teachers, bankers, farmers, or real estate agents.
Growing Career Opportunities (And the Qualifications Required to Get Them)
Jobs for wind turbine service technicians are expected to grow at a rate of 61%, significantly faster than average for all occupations. A wind technician is responsible for inspecting the physical integrity of wind turbine towers, testing electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components, and gathering turbine data for research and analytics purposes. A certificate in wind energy technology or an associate’s degree is recommended. It will typically be followed by a 12-month on-the-job training or an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.
Wind or Solar Operation & Maintenance (O&M)Manager
One of the highest-paying careers in clean energy offers a variety of different paths to fruition. While a bachelor’s degree or higher in business or management will certainly make you more competitive within the job market, experience working your way up at a wind or solar plant can also pave the way towards this lucrative career. A site manager is responsible for the big picture, leading all O&M employees and directing operations for performance optimization, safety, and profitability.
Renewable Energy Asset / Portfolio Manager
A renewable energy asset manager is responsible for the financial management of a portfolio of wind, solar, and battery storage projects, with primary financial and reporting responsibility for the renewable energy assets. A successful manager will work to maximize the long-term value of projects and work closely with energy off-takers, tax equity partners, and lending partners. To land a position as a renewable energy manager, plan to major in finance, accounting, or economics, and target large-scale renewable energy development firms when searching for internships. An MBA or MS in finance or accounting is often preferred, and advanced financial modeling skills are required.
As part of the preconstruction team, the renewables estimator works alongside project managers, purchasing associates, and engineers todevelop estimates for utility-scale solar and battery storage system installations. A high school diploma or GED is typically required, with several years of experience in managing subcontracts within the solar industry. A bachelor’s degree in engineering or construction management may be used to substitute for some experience.
Renewable Energy Designer
If you want to be part of a team that uses cutting-edge technology to design renewable energy projects, consider a career as a renewable energy designer. This field often utilizes technical visualization software to create and display designs in the wind and solar industry. A professional engineering state license is typically required to manage a team of designers, but individual team members often include CAD drafters as well as entry-level and mid-career engineers. Learning to use industry-specific software—such as AutoCad, PVsyst, windPRO, HdroCAD, ArcGIS, and InfraWorks 360—will be a huge plus on your resume.
Engineers of all backgrounds are critical to the infrastructure of green energy operations. From building renewable energy systems, designing machines that harness energy more efficiently, and researching and consulting, engineers will find themselves in high demand in the green energy field. A bachelor’s degree or higher in mechanical, chemical, industrial, civil, or electrical engineering is a great place to start, and experience in industrial construction is a plus.
Project Manager or Director
Before operations can get started, a project manager is needed to manage the production schedule, advise the purchasing department, evaluate demand and supply channels, and continuously identify performance issues and solutions. A bachelor’s degree in engineering, construction management, or a related field is recommended for this position, in addition to project management experience and deep knowledge of complex electrical power design, utility interconnection processes, and site/civil construction.
Business Development Manager
A skillednetworker and creative problem-solver, the business development manager is responsible for the prospecting, acquisition, retention, and growth of renewable energy projects and the development of channel partner and customer relationships. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in business, finance, or economics, in combination with renewable energy industry experience,is needed. Cross-functional collaboration experienceis a plus.
Project Finance Analyst or Manager – Renewable Energy
Project finance analysts manage the development and maintenance of financial models to analyze the return metrics and risks associated with wind, solar, and energy storage projects across a variety of tax equity and traditional financing structures.They collaborate regularly with project development teams, other internal stakeholders, and external business partners to assess new project opportunities and deliver actionable project models.
College students who are interested in careers in this field should plan to major in finance or economics, and target large-scale renewable energy development firms when searching for internships. Advanced financial modeling skills are also required.
Energy Law Associate
Current or aspiring attorneyswho want to make a difference can specialize in one or more of the many facets of renewable energy and environmental law—at a law firm, a nonprofit, or a renewable energy company. Individuals in thesehigh-paying positionsgain experience ina variety of different renewable energy projects—from solar and wind production to electric vehicles and more—navigating regulations, creating contracts, and participating in energy-related litigation.Interested law students or practicing attorneys should pursuecoursework or continuing education in environmental law and seek positions atlaw firmsthat serve clientsin the renewable energy field.
Insurance Risk Manager
Clean energy providers need trained professionals to identify and analyze risk exposures through meaningful models and reports. This is a fantastic opportunity for detail-oriented individuals, particularly those with experience in the construction industry. A bachelor’s degree in business, legal studies, finance, accounting, or risk management will help jump-start this opportunity.
Environmental Engineering Technician
Engineers develop the plans, and engineering technicians implement them. Employment for environmental engineering technicians is expected to grow at an extremely high rate of 7%. An associate degree in environmental engineering or a related field is recommended.
Producing energy would be impossiblewithout the work of electricians. Solar photovoltaic installations, electrical system repairs, linking new power grids to homes, and industrial component wiring tasks need to be completed by experienced electricians. Supervised apprenticeships through technical schools or community colleges offer four to five years of paid on-the-job training. After training, a state exam is typically completed for licensing. Additional certifications may be required, notably the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification for large commercial solar installations.
About Green Development LLC
Green Development LLC is the leading developer of large-scale renewable energy projects in Rhode Island, specializing in wind, solar, and battery storage. The company delivers significant energy savings to municipalities, quasi-public entities, nonprofits, and other qualified entities through the virtual net metering program while providing long-term lease payments to landowners and farmers.
Since 2009, Green Development has been instrumental in transforming the energy mix in Rhode Island to clean, reliable energy. The company has developed more than 70 MW in solar and wind capacity, with plans to add 75 MW in 2021. Green Development is devoted to preserving farmland, reducing water and air pollution, increasing energy security, and creating local jobs. Current wind and solar sites reduce carbon emissions equivalent to using 8,557,790 gallons of gas each year.