The number of green energy companies grows yearly, with job openings increasing more than 8% annually. Unfortunately, workers with green skills only increase by about 6% annually.
Those companies need more experts in renewable energy, engineering, and energy storage, but workers also require soft skills like communication, adaptability, determination, and social awareness if the green energy sector is going to thrive.
Below, we’ll cover technical skills, soft skills, and sector-specific skills which green energy companies need most.
The green energy sector requires a whole host of technical skills. Engineers are in short supply compared to the increasing demand in the United States and across the globe.
Which engineering field is best for renewable energy? Mechanical, chemical, industrial, electrical, and energy engineers all work in renewable energy. Electrical engineering might be the easiest way to get into renewable energy, but all engineers are in high demand.
Green energy workers must easily grasp scientific concepts and make decisions based on factual data, not opinions. A robust understanding of computing and engineering is a plus.
The Association of Energy Engineers has 20+ certifications, including the Certified Energy Manager and Certified Renewable Energy Professional certifications. More and more universities are also offering certification in renewable energy fields.
What skills are required for a renewable energy engineer? Renewable energy engineers must be skilled in:
Creative problem-solving skills
Energy auditing and analysis
CAD (Computer Aided Design) software
Knowledge of the green energy market
Soft skills are just as critical as technical skills in renewable energy. If a worker only has tech skills, the green energy sector will break down because they won’t be able to adapt, communicate, or manage effectively.
Look out for these skills on applicants’ resumes:
Adaptability — Nearly half of hiring managers said adapting to change was a critical skill they look for when hiring workers from outside the company. Renewable energy evolves constantly and rapidly, so adaptability is more important to green energy companies than more traditional jobs.
Strong communication — Robust communication skills are highly valued at any job. Positions at green energy companies require a lot of collaboration with other teams of people, both in writing and verbally. Strong communication skills are required to enact real change and network with colleagues or clients in the field. Collaboration is important in the green energy sector, as opposed to competition, if the noble cause of green energy is to succeed.
High motivation — As a green tech worker, you need to stay motivated and committed to your important work. Projects often don’t go as expected, and new systems or processes often need a lot of tweaking in such a new industry. If you’re a leader, you need to be able inspire and encourage employees to stay highly motivated, perhaps with incentives, recognition, promotions, or simply the freedom to be curious and innovative.
Social awareness — This is all about sustaining our planet, isn’t it? Social awareness is vital for green tech. Team members should be able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Or at least, you should be willing to learn from your colleagues how to be mindful of your carbon footprint and speak with others concerning green energy.
Project management — Workers at green energy companies must be able to manage multiple concurrent aspects of a project under strict deadlines. If you have specific project management training, such as Agile or Waterfall, you’re more likely to stand out as a managerial candidate.
Extra skills to learn for leaders: To increase your chances of becoming a green tech manager, study global energy markets, research methods, ESG values, different project management methods, data analysis, budget analysis, and regulatory policy.
Read more: How To Tell If A Company Is Greenwashing
Sectors & Skill Gaps
Skill gaps are widening in multiple sectors of green energy.
According to 2022 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a separate report from LinkedIn, green jobs are increasing by over 8% yearly, but workers with green skills only increase by 6% each year.
Since the skill gaps are widening, let’s cover the tech skills that specific green energy sectors need the most.
One of the most significant skill gaps in green energy is engineers and technicians needing experience with ground source or air heat pumps, particularly with the growing popularity of eco homes utilizing geothermal power.
Geothermal energy will grow significantly in the coming years, especially since it is arguably cleaner than wind or solar. Around 3% of energy in the United States is geothermal, but the Department of Energy predicts it could go as high as 10%.
In the US, the most accessible geothermal sites are in the Rocky Mountains and western deserts. In-person jobs are most likely going to be in California. In northern Cali, you might find that geothermal plants meet 50% of an area’s energy needs.
The following roles in geothermal energy are usually in high demand:
Heat pump service engineer
Wind power has more potential than geothermal energy — both in energy produced and jobs created.
The UK needs 36,000 people employed in offshore wind by 2032, according to this recent report. The US Department of Energy found that wind power employs 120,000 Americans, and it’s expected to keep growing.
Job openings in wind energy include:
Wind turbine technician
Wind resource manager
Wind energy analyst
Solar energy is in high demand across the globe. Photovoltaic (PV) systems need installation and maintenance technicians so the world can continue to capture the sun's power!
Common solar energy jobs in need of more workers include:
PV engineers (installation and maintenance)
Long-term energy storage is critical to green energy and environmental preservation.
Batteries (and other sources) which store renewable energy are critical to the green energy movement. Effective energy storage allows for renewable energy to increase both production and efficiency.
In-demand roles in energy storage include:
Battery storage technician
Field service engineer
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Read more: Flexible Hiring Can Boost Diversity In Climate Tech