Get to know the renewable energy industry: renewable growth and breaking into an energy career
April 7, 2023
With nearly 40 million people expected to be hired over the next 7 years, energy careers are a bright spot in today’s renewable energy market for several reasons. With so much investment happening right now there is a lot of excitement over future growth potential.
Between governmental incentives, global commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and action to transition to renewable energy, we are watching the renewable industry innovate and bring the future to the present right before our eyes!
In fact, The Renewable Capacity Statistics 2023 report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that renewable energy continues to grow at record levels despite global uncertainties! A staggering 83% of all power capacity added globally last year was produced by renewables (irena.org)
With this rapid expansion bringing new opportunities to the workforce, it’s a favorable time to explore the renewable industry and consider a long term career in one of its many exciting jobs. For those who are looking to learn more, we’ll share more about the industry and why it’s growing to help you evaluate career growth and understand what it takes to break into this industry.
Renewable Energy Industry 101
‘Renewable Energy’ is a term you might hear a lot but what exactly does it mean?
Renewable energy by definition is energy generated by sources that can be replenished within a relatively short amount of time in comparison to finite sources like coal and oil. When thinking about the industry as a whole - maybe solar, storage, or wind power comes to mind first, but it also encompasses electricity, hydrogen, marine energy, hydropower, geothermal energy and biomass (wood, energy from waste).
Driven by policy support and cost reductions in production, renewables have rapidly grown over the years and are differentiated between green and clean energy. Green energy refers to sources that have the highest environmental benefit, while clean energy refers to sources that have low carbon emissions and include both renewable sources and nuclear energy.
Renewables, both green + clean, are continuing to grow, with a forecast to power over 90% of global electricity capacity expansion (iea.org), the industry is attracting unprecedented amounts of investment and workforce opportunity.
Renewable Momentum: Fast Growth, Increasing Investments & Energy Careers
The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next 5 years as it did in the past 20 (iea.org). For example, 2022 marked the first year that renewables outpaced coal in the U.S. according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
And there are good reasons driving this industry's fast growth. Combating climate change and creating sustainability in the energy industry is a top priority worldwide as concerns over climate change and climate disasters continue to grow. Countries are also looking for energy security by meeting their energy supply needs domestically and are faced with the growing need to transition off foreign sources of fossil fuel dependence for things like heating, electricity and transportation.
Investors are capitalizing on this key time for renewables, too. Many investment firms are realizing that with rising energy demand and the pressing need for renewables, there’s a unique opportunity to make investments with both social and financial returns.
To reach global goals for net zero carbon emissions though, both investments and the energy workforce will need to increase.
Breaking into the Industry
Renewable energy jobs can be found in the public, private and nonprofit sectors and can range from entry-level to professional positions (energy.gov), as well as hands-on work in the trades - like solar panel installers and traditional office jobs, such as renewable energy engineers or project developers.
Another positive for the renewable energy industry jobs boom is an increase in the average salaries. Although they might not have reached par with oil & gas salaries yet, it’s important to note that most renewable energy jobs still have salaries above the national average. Ensuring renewable energy jobs are high-quality, high-paying jobs is also a top ticket item for legislators in the U.S.
The bottom line is, whether you come from a university, trade or vocation, the sciences, engineering, or liberal arts - the renewable energy industry is a place you can continue your career in! Whatever your professional background is, you can take 3 easy steps to understand where you can break into the renewable energy industry.
Step 1: Align your interests with fast growing sectors & long term career growth potential.
As new renewable technologies are launched into commercial use and sectors like solar and wind power continue to race ahead, they create new jobs for U.S. workers. Increasingly, more colleges and universities are incorporating green / clean energy training into their courses and opening up avenues for young people to be trained in these careers.
Whether you’re a college grad or looking to get into this industry here are a few career paths according to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy with long term growth potential:
- Renewable electricity generation: in wind, solar, water and geothermal energy.
- Energy saving homes, buildings & manufacturing
- Sustainable transportation: electric vehicles, bioenergy, hydrogen and fuel cells
Step 2: See where you have transferable skills for today’s hot jobs or if you need more education.
For those who are looking to pivot into this industry there are many roles that require transferable skills that come from experience in other types of companies. Many traditional industries like technology, real estate developers, banking and funds are also shifting hiring to search for candidates who will be focused on renewable energy.
Right now - we see a growing need for people to fill renewable roles in finance, project management, electrical/mechanical engineering, and project development.
Step 3: Get connected.
Like any other industry, some research, education and networking is required to get connected. However, another great way to get connected to your next role in renewable energy is to work with a staffing firm like Intelletec to understand what types of roles you qualify for and to get introduced to their renewable energy clients with open roles.
Want to learn more about our renewable clients? Chat with one of our knowledgeable renewable energy recruiters today!
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