Working in wind is no joke. Just ask Paul Roamer, President of Ethos Distributed Solutions, a Colorado-based company that provides services to the solar, wind and telecom industries. Paul shares what it's like to work in wind energy, what he's looking for in new employees, and common mistakes made on the job.
What's a typical day like on the job in wind energy?
When you get on a site, they're going to start with a job safety briefing. They're going to analyze the hazards, know where the local hospital is and know how to get responders here if we need them. They're going to talk about the day's activities then get geared up and get the right tools and supplies and climb the turbine to start the work. It can be simple or complex corrective maintenance that takes days to complete.
What technical skills are you looking for in future employees?
Written skills and the ability to use a computer is a requirement. [But] it's less about technical skills and more about the complete package. Ethos is a 100% travel company, so I'm looking for people that we can trust because they'll be in two-man crews. They're going to be away from home and there won't be a big boss around. They've also got to be able to think on their own and have to have enough drive that they don't leave projects unfinished.
You mentioned 100% travel, where would your employees travel?
It could be anywhere in or out of the United States. Right now I have a crew in the Bahamas, a crew in Alaska, a crew in Kansas – we're all over the place.
It sounds like there's probably an element of flexibility or almost eagerness to go into unknown.
That's it! If you're willing to be flexible, open to new opportunities—travel and see the country while you're doing it—learn lots of different things, and be challenged along the way it's a great fit. If you want to know what you'll be doing tomorrow then you're in the wrong place.
What's a common mistake you see from people working in wind energy?
You have to be safe and we trust that the guys do what we teach them to do. We audit, but we can't be there every minute. It all goes together with personal accountability for your actions during on hours and off hours. I'm not looking for guys who want to party up and drink until all hours of the morning then work on a turbine hung over. You need to realize you need to be professional on the road.
What advice would you give someone interested in working in wind energy?
Do your research and know what you're getting into. If you're not willing to put up with travel or working outside in all kinds of weather and getting your hands dirty, I don't think that this is the right field for you.