Hydropower and Marine Energy Industry Workers


Employment Prospects


Approximately 140,000 people are currently employed in the U.S. hydropower industry, according to the National Hydropower Association (NHA).

Hydropower plants are found throughout the United States. Hydropower projects can be separated into two categories: large hydropower projects run by the federal electric utilities and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (http://www.usbr.gov) and the Army Corps of Engineers (https://www.usace.army.mil/About/Centers-of-Expertise), and nonfederal hydropower dams (about 2,600 in the United States) licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the top 10 hydropower generating states are Washington, Oregon, New York, California, and Alabama. Tennessee, Montana, Idaho, North Carolina, and Arizona also have large hdroelectricity generation capacities.   

Starting Out

Your college’s career services office is an excellent starting point in your job search. Use its resources while you are still in school, as well as after graduation, to search for job leads. You can also find job leads via contacts you make during your internship or through professional associations. The National Hydropower Association represents more than 200 companies in the North American hydropower industry, from small mom-and-pop companies to Fortune 500 corporations. According to its Web site its members "include both public and investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, developers, manufacturers, environmental and engineering consultants, attorneys, and public policy, outreach, and education professionals." Visit https://www.hydro.org/membership/members-directory for a list of members.

Advancement Prospects

Advancement prospects vary by job title. Technicians, for example, can advance by receiving higher pay and managerial responsibilities. They can also earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees and become engineers or environmental scientists. Engineers and environmental scientists advance by taking on larger projects, working for larger firms, taking on managerial duties, opening their own consulting firms, writing textbooks about the field, or working as college professors. Clerical workers with drive and ambition might become office managers or supervisors.

Tips for Entry

Learn more about trends in the industry and potential employers by reading publications such as the International Journal on Hydropower & Dams (http://www.hydropower-dams.com) and International Water Power and Dam Construction (http://www.waterpowermagazine.com).

Visit https://www.hydro.org/job-board and http://www.hydrofoundation.org/job-postings.html for job listings.

Join the National Hydropower Association (NHA), International Hydropower Association, and other professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.

Attend the NHA's Annual Conference to network and interview for jobs.