Wind Energy Engineers
Approximately 120,000 people are employed in the wind energy industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Different regions of the United States are windier than others, which is why wind-related projects tend to be most concentrated in the Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast regions of the United States. The top five U.S. states by total installed wind capacity are Texas (30,904 MW), Iowa (10,799 MW), Oklahoma (8,173 MW), Kansas (6,512 MW), and California (5,871 MW).
There are more than 500 wind-related manufacturing facilities in the United States. Much wind turbine manufacturing is located in the Midwest and Southeast. Large manufacturers include GE Wind Energy, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, and Vestas.
Many wind energy engineers get started in the field through internships, cooperative work/study programs, or part-time positions. They learn about job openings through trade associations, industry publications, career fairs, and networking events. They also get job-search help from their school's career services office and by looking for job listings on Web sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, and SimplyHired, among others. Useful information about careers in the renewable-energy industry can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Jobs Web page, https://www.energy.gov/eere/education/clean-energy-jobs-and-planning.
Wind energy engineers with five or more years of experience on wind energy projects advance to become senior engineers. They oversee the work of teams of engineers, technicians, and related professionals and handle more complex projects and larger clients. In large engineering firms they may become chief engineers and department heads. They also advance by starting their own consulting firms. Wind energy engineers must continue their education throughout their careers and those who go back to school for a master's or doctoral degree improve their job prospects. Other ways to advance include becoming more active in professional associations, such as by lecturing and teaching, and by becoming college professors and writing about the field for academic and industry-related publications.
Tips for Entry
Get a part-time or summer job in a wind energy engineering firm. Search for jobs on companies' Web sites and on sites such as https://awea-jobs.careerwebsite.com/?navItemNumber=8205 and https://www.nspe.org/resources/career-center, as well as through online employment Web sites.
Keep up with news and developments in the wind energy field by reading publications such as Windpower Monthly (https://www.windpowermonthly.com). Also, use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media to follow industry leaders and learn about job openings.
Join the American Wind Energy Association and other professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Conduct an informational interview with a wind energy engineer to learn about their educational and work background, what they like most and least about their work, and any advice they can share. Ask your school's career services office for help with setting up an interview.