Energy Conservation Technicians
Energy conservation technicians are employed in areas where much energy is used, such as power plants, research laboratories, construction firms, industrial facilities, government agencies, and companies that sell and service equipment. Technicians who focus on research and development work for institutions, private industry, government, and the military. Those who work in energy use are employed by manufacturing facilities, consulting engineering firms, energy audit firms, and energy audit departments of utility companies. Other employers include municipal governments, manufacturers of heating and cooling equipment, private builders, hotels, and architects.
Most graduates of technical programs are able to secure jobs in energy conservation before graduation by working with their schools' career services offices. Placement staff members work closely with potential employers, especially those that have hired graduates in recent years. Many large companies schedule regular recruiting visits to schools before graduation.
It is also possible to enter the field of energy conservation on the basis of work experience. People with a background in construction, plumbing, insulation, or heating may enter this field with the help of additional training to supplement their past work experience. Training in military instrumentation and systems control and maintenance is also good preparation for the prospective energy conservation technician. Former navy technicians are particularly sought in the field of energy production.
Opportunities for on-the-job training in energy conservation are available through part-time or summer work in hospitals, major office buildings, hotel chains, and universities. Some states or regions have youth corps aimed at high school students, such as Washington State's Ecology Youth Corps. Participants pick up garbage, collect recyclable materials, and otherwise help clean up the environment.
Some jobs in energy production, such as those in electrical power plants, can be obtained right out of high school. New employees, however, are expected to successfully complete company-sponsored training courses to keep up to date and advance to positions with more responsibility. Graduates with associate's degrees in energy conservation and use, instrumentation, electronics, or electromechanical technology will normally enter employment at a higher level, with more responsibility and higher pay, than those with less education. Jobs in energy research and development almost always require an associate's degree.
Because the career is relatively new, well-established patterns of advancement have not yet emerged. Nevertheless, technicians in any of the four areas of energy conservation can advance to higher positions, such as senior and supervisory positions. These advanced positions require a combination of formal education, work experience, and special seminars or classes usually sponsored or paid for by the employer.
Technicians can also advance by progressing to new, more challenging assignments. For example, hotels, restaurants, and retail stores hire experienced energy technicians to manage energy consumption. This often involves visits to each location to audit and examine its facilities or procedures to see where energy use can be reduced. The technician then provides training in energy-saving practices. Other experienced energy technicians may be employed as sales and customer service representatives for producers of power, energy, special control systems, or equipment designed to improve energy efficiency.
Technicians with experience and money to invest may start their own businesses, selling energy-saving products, providing audits, or recommending energy-efficient renovations.
Tips for Entry
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals’ Green Living and Energy Expo (http://www.aecpes.org/expo) and other industry events to network and interview for jobs.
Become certified in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Conduct information interviews with energy conservation technicians and ask them for advice on preparing for and entering the field.