Biomass Plant Technicians
Education and Training Requirements
A strong background in science and mathematics is helpful for future biomass plant technician work. Take classes in biology, earth science, chemistry, agriculture, algebra, geometry, and physics. English classes are also helpful for honing your reading comprehension and writing skills. Technicians use different types of software to analyze data and generate reports, so be sure to take computer classes also. Shop classes provide good information on how to properly use machinery and tools. Knowledge of a foreign language is beneficial for jobs located in other countries.
Biomass plant technicians with an associate's or bachelor's degree have improved chances of getting work compared to those with only a high school diploma. Associate's or bachelor's degree programs include courses in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, environmental science, as well as classes and lectures on the different types of biomasses and feedstocks.
Many colleges now offer classes, certificates, and degrees in renewable energy, including Georgia Tech, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of California (at both Davis and Irvine), and the University of Wisconsin. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies offers a master's degree (an MEM) in energy and the environment.
Find programs listed on these Web sites: https://www.energy.gov/eere/education/education-homepage and https://irecusa.org/workforce-education/training-resources/.
Other Education or Training
The Renewable Fuels Association offers workshops, lectures, and other continuing education opportunities (CE) at its annual National Ethanol Conference. The International Biomass Conference & Expo, held each year in a different region, offers panels on various biomass topics, from feedstock procurement strategies and biomass harvesting processes to regulatory and emission compliance strategies and managing operating costs.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Certification may not be required to work as a biomass plant technician as technicians usually receive several years of rigorous on-the-job training and technical instruction. Those who have certification in a specialized area, however, show potential employers they have achieved a recognized level of knowledge and skills in their field.
Biomass plant technicians who work with electrical equipment may be certified through the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's System Operator Certification Program. The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) offers certification in many different specialties. Candidates for certification must meet work-experience requirements and be a member of a professional organization.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Employers prefer to hire biomass plant technicians with several months to one year of prior work experience. Entry-level technicians receive on-the-job training and technical instruction that can last from one to three or more years.
The job requires strong knowledge of machines and tools, raw materials and production processes, computers and electronics, math, and public safety and security procedures. Biomass plant technicians are keen observers, able to identify problems and make sound decisions. They are investigative, tech savvy, and able to follow set procedures and routines. People who work well on teams as well as independently are best suited for this type of work.