"I cannot change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination."
This is the first in a planned series of blog entries describing the occupational outlook of specific jobs for which we provide training at America's first Ecotech Institute. Graduates of our Wind Energy Technology program are eligible for a variety of jobs, including Energy Auditors, Engineering Technicians, and Sustainability Specialists. However, the most obvious role for our graduates is that of Wind Turbine Service Technician.
According to O*NET Online, Wind Turbine Service Technicians "Inspect, diagnose, adjust, or repair wind turbines. Perform maintenance on wind turbine equipment including resolving electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic malfunctions."
O*NET details occupational tasks, which may include:
- Inspect or repair fiberglass turbine blades.
- Troubleshoot or repair mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical malfunctions related to variable pitch systems, variable speed control systems, converter systems, or related components.
- Climb wind turbine towers to inspect, maintain, or repair equipment.
- Diagnose problems involving wind turbine generators or control systems.
- Perform routine maintenance on wind turbine equipment, underground transmission systems, wind fields substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems.
- Start or restart wind turbine generator systems to ensure proper operations.
- Test electrical components of wind systems with devices such as voltage testers, multimeters, oscilloscopes, infrared testers, or fiber optic equipment.
- Test structures, controls, or mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical systems, according to test plans or in coordination with engineers.
- Assist in assembly of individual wind generators or construction of wind farms.
- Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis.
According to O*NET, median wages for Wind Turbine Service Technicians in 2011 were $17.65 hourly, or $36,710 annual. In 2010 the industry employed 144,000 folks, and there is a projected growth of 10%-19% for the period 2010 to 2020, for a total of 43,200 projected job openings during that time.
But of course, our graduates are concerned about jobs here and now. That's where our new Clean Jobs Index comes into play. This useful tool allows you to view current job listings by category for any state, and includes links to the original job posting so that you may view the requirements and even apply online.
According to Burning Glass Labor Insight, whose patented job aggregation technology searches for job listings from over 17,000 sources, including employer websites, job boards, newspapers, and government agencies, there were 394 real-time job postings for Wind Turbine Service Technician in 2012, and 62 within the last 60 days. (Burning Glass is the source of the Clean Jobs Index job listings, which are updated every month.)
According to Burning Glass, the top states for Wind Turbine Service Technician jobs in 2012 were:
- Texas (75 postings)
- California (44)
- Iowa (39)
- Colorado (32)
- North Dakota (22)
So if you want to be part of a small, but very select (i.e., in demand) group, and part of an industry that is growing even during these economic down times, consider Wind Energy Technology at Ecotech Institute.
"Don't waste time learning the ‘tricks of the trade.' Instead, learn the trade."
Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org