If you're looking for a lucrative career path, it's certainly a good idea to explore jobs in the energy sector. After all, energy is a necessity for individuals and industries alike. The energy industry is always likely to be strong, even as it evolves to focus more and more on clean and renewable energy. Discover ten of the best-paying jobs in the energy field; you just might find some career possibilities that appeal to you.
Energy Data Scientist
As is the case in most industries, big data is becoming increasingly important in the energy industry. Data scientists utilize information technology and machine learning to gather and transform raw data into business analytics that can be used to boost performance, identify new opportunities, or improve business results. In the energy field, data scientists track and analyze things like energy consumption, weather patterns, the flow of energy, and other factors relevant to the energy organizations for which they work. Working in this field generally requires a Master's degree in data science, statistics, mathematics, or a related field. Some roles require a Ph.D. The average annual pay for an energy data scientist is more than $100,000.
Biofuels Product Development Manager
Biofuels product development managers are applied scientists who conduct technical research focused on developing technologies that can be used to produce biodiesel and other biofuels on a scale large enough for commercial applications. They focus on coming up with the most efficient processes for refining biofuel products. People who do this work typically have a Master's degree in biochemistry, along with additional study and/or knowledge in agriculture and manufacturing processes. The average pay for a biofuels product development manager is over $100,000 per year.
Biochemists are scientists who study the chemical processes that occur within living things. They use chemistry to study molecular and cellular biological processes. In the energy sector, biochemistry researchers explore how biomass can become bioenergy. Their focus is less on the production process itself (as with biofuels product development managers) and more on what biological substances can be utilized for bioenergy (and how). The majority of biochemistry research jobs require a Master's degree in the field. A bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some entry-level lab jobs, while a Ph.D. may be required for high-level biochemistry research scientist positions. The average pay for biochemists is more than $90,000 per year.
Energy engineering, which is sometimes referred to as energy systems engineering, is a relatively new branch of engineering that focuses on ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of energy systems. Working in this interdisciplinary engineering field may involve designing renewable energy systems, finding better ways to store energy, developing solutions for reducing energy consumption, and otherwise improving the equipment or systems used in energy production, storage, and delivery. As with all engineering occupations, energy engineers must complete a bachelor's degree in engineering and meet state licensure requirements. The average pay for energy engineers is around $90,000 per year.
Commercial Solar Sales Consultant
Working as a commercial solar sales consultant requires a combination of sales skills and knowledge about solar energy systems, so solar industry experience is usually required for these jobs. People who do this kind of work prospect for leads and meet with potential clients seeking to purchase solar energy systems for commercial properties, including new construction and existing structures. They determine if a site is suitable for solar installations, make recommendations based on client needs, quote pricing, share information about tax incentives, discuss financing options, and close sales. The average compensation for commercial solar sales consultants is more than $83,000 per year, though top producers can earn a lot more.
Solar Project Manager
A solar project manager is responsible for coordinating all the elements associated with completing a large-scale solar installation project. They are responsible for ensuring that work is completed on time, on budget, and per specifications. They coordinate among all stakeholder groups, including internal and external customers, engineers, designers, and installers, to facilitate smooth progress on each project. Working in this field requires significant experience working on solar installations or other aspects of green construction, as well as project management skills. Some positions require project management professional (PMP) certification. The average pay for solar project managers is over $100,000 per year.
Solar Installation Foreman
Once a commercial solar sales consultant closes a deal and the preparation work is completed, the final step will be to install the solar system. A solar installation foreman is responsible for overseeing the installation process, which includes installing and testing the solar panels and related equipment. This person works closely with the project manager and oversees the work of solar voltaic installation technicians. To work as a solar installation foreman, a person must have hands-on experience installing or maintaining solar panels, as well as strong supervisory skills. A degree is generally not required for this type of job. The average pay for a solar installation foreman is around $55,000 per year.
Hydroelectric Production Manager
Hydroelectric production managers are responsible for overseeing operations at hydroelectric power plants. They are responsible for the proper maintenance, operation, and repair of all equipment used to generate hydroelectric power. They oversee personnel and are responsible for ensuring that the plant operates safely. They must also maintain accurate records. Advancing to this type of role generally requires experience working as an operator in a hydroelectric plant. There is not a specific degree required to enter the field, but employers may require or prefer that managers at this level hold an associate's or bachelor's degree. The average compensation for a hydroelectric production manager is more than $93,000 per year.
Wind Energy Operations Manager
Wind energy operations managers are responsible for overseeing the operations of wind farms and other wind energy sites. Their duties involve overseeing the maintenance of wind turbines and other equipment, dealing with site leases, financial management, hiring and training employees, and day-to-day supervision. People are typically promoted into this job after acquiring significant hands-on work experience related to wind energy maintenance and repair. There isn't a specific degree required to enter the field, but most people who work in this profession have at least an associate's degree in a green energy field. The average pay for a wind energy operations manager is around $85,000 per year.
Wind Turbine Technician
Working as a wind turbine technician is a great option to consider. This position can be a good career path for those who are looking for a hands-on, high-demand job in green energy. This is also a great role for those who want to become wind energy operations managers, as it affords the experience they need to be considered for a higher-level role within the industry. Wind turbine technicians are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing wind turbines. Training to do this kind of work can be completed via a short-term, non-degree trade school program, though if your ultimate goal is to move into management, you may want to enroll in a degree program. The median pay for wind turbine technicians is around $56,000 per year.
Pursuing Energy as a Career Path
Energy is definitely an interesting career path to consider. The jobs listed above are only a few of the many types of jobs in the energy industry. Once you gain a good bit of experience, you may want to consider becoming a renewable energy consultant. But, it's important to realize that you'll probably need to gain experience via an entry-level job before you'll be considered for a higher-level role. To get even more ideas, explore some of the different types of jobs in the oil and gas production segment of the energy market.