Traditional energy jobs still require applicants to have classic skills such as welding, pipe-fittings, electrical or mechanical training, truck driving, and other expertise.
New opportunities are also emerging for professionals who want to advance in the green energy marketplace. These positions require skills appropriate for white collar, middle-management, and professional teams.
New opportunities require advanced skills and specialized knowledge
Prospective candidates who want to compete for mid-level positions in the emerging green energy industry typically need the following skill set:
- Demonstrated interest in energy efficiency, green technology, energy finance/economics, sustainability, or “smart grid” infrastructure
- Five to 10 years experience in the energy industry
- Degree in a relevant engineering, IT, MIS or finance discipline, with master of science or MBA preferred
- Technical acumen in job’s primary discipline
- Business connections in industry and target market
- Business/financial/technical analytical skills
- Writing and personal business communication skills
- Project development and management skills
- Client development and relationship-building skills
- Proficiency in general business/office computer applications such as email, word processing, Excel (spreadsheets), PowerPoint (presentations), project-management software, as well as task-specific programs
- Willingness to travel from 10 to 80 percent of the time
Six mid-level careers
The following jobs apply the skills listed above in a variety of ways.
Sustainability Consultant – Federal, state and local governments have imposed numerous laws and regulations on companies that require them to implement sustainability and energy-use and renewal programs to mitigate pollution, reduce consumption, and avoid resource depletion. A sustainability senior consultant might work in a Climate Change Division and help direct an enterprise’s growth strategy in sustainability services through successful sales and business development. The consultant, a masters (or higher) graduate in an engineering discipline, could be responsible for helping commercial and business clients comply with regulations by identifying business improvements needed to successfully implement sustainability, resource renewal and carbon-related management initiatives.
Solar Power Engineer – As more environmentally conscious electricity consumers – both homeowners and businesses – look to solar energy to power homes and businesses, demand is growing for utilities to meet this demand. A solar power engineer is typically a graduate mechanical or electrical engineer (master’s preferred) who drives the development and management of utility-scale solar-power system projects. He or she is responsible for identifying the site and developing the most appropriate technical and material solutions or other variables to optimize system proposals based on energy yield calculations using appropriate industry-standard simulation and data analysis tools. Further responsibilities include deliverables such as site evaluations, concept drawings, equipment specifications, interconnection and single line electrical and process flow diagrams.
Financial Analyst/Manager (Solar) – The need for competitively priced solar system equipment is growing with solar-power demand. A solar financial analyst/manager might work for a large manufacturer of solar photovoltaic/poly-silicon wafer material and be responsible for financial modeling, creating various analytical scenarios to assist project development decision-making. Other key responsibilities could include accounting for and accurate monitoring of capital expenditures, budgeting and management reporting, conducting special analyses and operational reviews to improve financial processes, and running investment simulations using the Monte Carlo Method and the Black Scholes Calculator to determine potential internal rates of return.
Demand Side Management, Consultant in Energy Efficiency – Managing electricity needs and complying with government mandates regarding environmental concerns, energy efficiency and consumer education can be a major activity – and expense – for utilities and other energy sector players. This consultant may focus on helping clients save energy and include a wide range of energy-related activities such as demand side management (DSM) program evaluation, program and policy planning, and market and technology assessments. This consultant could work closely with utility companies, program implementers, government agencies, industry representatives, trade organizations, end-use customers and efficiency advocates. Technical skills are needed to perform program evaluations that include data collection, economic analyses, spreadsheet creation, energy simulation modeling, field performance measurement, technology assessment, strategy development, and report and presentation development.
IT Consultant in AMI/Smart Grid – The “backbone” of the advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)/smart grid is a network of computers and other digital equipment installed and maintained by IT professionals. A senior IT consultant will work with clients to develop AMI/smart grid systems from the ground up. Tasks include financial analysis and development of business cases for migrating legacy IT systems for support of new AMI/smart grid infrastructure; advising senior-level clients on best practices for IT infrastructure deployments; developing roadmaps for client IT migrations; program and project management, including budget and consulting resources, project scope, schedule, and risk. The consultant has skills to facilitate implementation of Meter Data Management Systems, Customer Information Systems (CIS); and understanding of applications and data utilized in AMI/smart grid management for public utilities.
Energy Software Consultant – If the “backbone” of the AMI is a computer network, then its “brain” is the software that provides instructions to make the smart grid system and related components operate in specific ways. An energy software consultant works on teams or as an individual contributor to facilitate software development, implementation, enhancement or integration for energy industry clients. Tasks include solving challenges such as establishing interfaces between new applications and existing business systems; providing security training on the application level; developing and communicating project objectives and recommended solutions; identifying, documenting, tracking, trouble-shooting, analyzing and resolving issues; continuous review of user and process documentation; improving software expertise; communicating with support, quality assurance, development and help desk.