Hydropower and Marine Energy Industry Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

Those interested in working in technical positions should take mathematics, physics, computer science, and shop classes. Those who want to work as environmental scientists should take chemistry, biology, earth science, environmental science, and related classes. Speech, English, and computer science courses will be useful for any type of worker.

Postsecondary Education

Educational requirements vary by job title. Technicians typically need an associate’s degree in engineering technology, renewable energy engineering technology, renewable energy, environmental science, or a related field. Engineers usually have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in renewable energy engineering or in their particular discipline such as civil, electrical, or mechanical engineering. Biologists and other environmental scientists have at least a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, or they may have degrees in other specialty areas, such as biology, ecology, chemistry, hydrology, climatology, geology, physics, or even social science or engineering. Graduate degrees are usually required for managerial positions. Students typically complete at least one internship as part of their college training.

Training for nontechnical workers varies by occupation. Secretaries and receptionists, for example, receive on-the-job training. Computer professionals enter the field with bachelor’s degrees in a computer science–related field. Lawyers need law degrees and experience working with construction and environmental law.

A small, but growing, number of colleges offer classes, certificates, and degrees in renewable energy. Visit the following Web sites for lists of programs: http://energy.gov/eere/education/education-homepage and http://www.irecusa.org/workforce-education.

Other Education or Training

The National Hydropower Association and the International Hydropower Association offer continuing education (CE) opportunities via workshops and seminars at their annual conferences. The Association of Energy Engineers, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Midwest Renewable Energy Association, National Society of Professional Engineers, and Waterpower Canada also provide CE opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many 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 a multiple-choice 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 usually is 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 http://www.ncees.org.

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

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

One of the best ways to gain experience in the field is to participate in an internship while in college. By working at a hydropower facility, you will be able to explore career paths, learn about the industry, and make valuable networking contacts. These contacts will come in handy when you are looking for a job.

Science and technical workers should be curious and detail-oriented, enjoy solving problems, and be able to read and understand technical materials. They should have a strong interest and ability in science and mathematics. Since they often work as members of a team, they should have strong communication and interpersonal skills.

Those in managerial positions must be decisive and able to delegate tasks. They must be organized and have good communication and interpersonal skills.

Nontechnical workers such as clerks, secretaries, and receptionists should be able to follow instructions, be detail-oriented, and be able to work well with others and independently when necessary.

Key traits for all workers include strong communication skills, the ability to work independently and as a member of a team when necessary, good organizational and time-management skills, and a willingness to continue to learn throughout one’s career.