Geothermal Energy Industry Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Mathematics, earth science, physics, environmental science, and chemistry classes will be helpful if you plan to work in the geothermal energy industry identifying and harvesting possible sources of geothermal energy from within the earth. Aspiring trades workers should take shop, math, and physics courses. English, speech, and computer science classes will be useful to any type of worker. 

Postsecondary Education

Educational requirements vary for geothermal energy industry workers. Secretaries and receptionists, for example, typically need only a high school diploma and learn most of their skills on the job. Others receive some postsecondary training in basic business and office practices.

Trades workers, such as welders, plumbers, and electricians, acquire training via apprenticeships, by attending technical colleges, or completing on-the-job training.

Engineers usually have bachelor’s degrees in their particular specialty (such as mechanical or civil engineering). Engineering managers often have graduate degrees in their engineering specialty or in engioneerimng management. Engineering technicians prepare for the field by earning an associate’s degree in engineering technology or a related field and completing on-the-job training. 

Geologists, geophysicists, and geochemists in the geothermal energy industry usually have graduate degrees.

Construction managers typically have bachelor’s degrees in construction management, business management, or management, along with experience in the construction industry.

Power plant operators prepare for the field via a combination of education, on-the-job training, and practical experience.

Visit for a list of schools and universities with geothermal programs, courses and/or research opportunities. Other Web sites that offer information on geothermal education include and


The American Association of Petroleum Geologists offers Geothermal Energy Basics, an online course that is part of a five-course series. Students who complete all five classes earn a certificate in renewable energy. Visit for more information. Some colleges and universities—such as the University of Nevada-Reno and Hagerstown Community Collegeoffer certificates in geothermal energy, renewable energy, and related fields. Contact schools in your area to learn more about available programs. 

Other Education or Training

The Geothermal Resources Council offers workshops and seminars at its annual meeting and trade show. Topics include drilling, economics, environmental aspects of geothermal activity, financing, geochemistry, geology, geophysics, heat pumps, legal aspects, management, non-electric uses, and reservoir engineering. Other organizations that provide continuing education opportunities include the Association of Energy Engineers, International, Geothermal Energy Association, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, and the National Society of Professional Engineers. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many engineering technicians choose to become certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. To become certified, a technician must have a specific amount of job-related experience and pass an examination.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers certification to manufacturing engineers. The Association of Energy Engineers offers certification in a variety of specialties. To be considered for certification, a candidate must meet eligibility standards such as a minimum of three years of relevant work experience and membership in a professional organization. Most programs consist of classroom work and an examination.

Engineers who work on projects that affect the property, health, or life of the public typically pursue licensure. There are two levels of licensing for engineers. Professional Engineers (PEs) have graduated from an accredited engineering curriculum, have four years of engineering experience, and have passed a written exam. Engineering graduates need not wait until they have four years experience, however, to start the licensure process. Those who pass the Fundamentals of Engineering examination after graduating are called Engineers in Training (EITs) or Engineer Interns (EIs). The EIT certification is usually valid for 10 years. After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam, to gain full PE licensure. For more information on licensing and examination requirements, visit the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying's Web site, The council also provides licensure to surveyors.

Those who are employed in positions that may affect the power grid must be certified by the North American Energy Reliability Corporation. Power plant operators must undergo a background check and submit to periodic drug testing.

Certification and licensing requirements for other jobs in the geothermal energy industry vary according to the position. Contact professional associations in your area of interest for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Any experience one can obtain in the geothermal energy industry—such as an internship, volunteering, or a part-time job—will be useful.

Personal and professional skills for workers in the geothermal energy industry vary by occupation. Some useful traits for any type of worker include strong communication skills; the ability to work as a member of a team and also independently, when necessary; good organizational and time-management skills; the ability to multitask; perseverance; drive; ambition; and a willingness to continue to learn throughout one’s career.

There are also some skills that are unique to particular professions. For example, trades workers need good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. They also need to be in good physical condition, as the work involves a great deal of physical activity. Engineers need to have technical and scientific acumen and enjoy solving problems. Managers need good leadership skills and the ability to motivate workers and organize projects so that they remain on schedule.