Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Green Jobs Series: Careers in Wind Energy [Installment 4]

In today’s fourth and final installment on careers in wind energy, we will focus on the emerging green occupation of wind turbine service technician. Also known as "wind techs," these technicians are responsible for keeping the turbines running efficiently.

Wind Turbine Service Technicians

Many different companies employ wind turbine service technicians, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and businesses that specialize in providing turbine maintenance services to wind farm owners.

Job Duties

Wind techs are responsible for both regular maintenance and performing complicated repairs of wind turbines. On the top of turbines they perform periodic equipment inspections, sensor calibration, cleaning, and unscheduled repairs of malfunctioning components.

The average workday of wind techs is spent climbing and inspecting multiple turbines. Technicians work a schedule that rotates which turbines need to be inspected or maintained. Any problems they notice during the examination are reported and scheduled for repair.

Education and Training

The wind energy industry is relatively young, so there is no one way to be trained as a wind tech. Wind techs need to have mechanical skills and the aptitude to understand how a turbine functions, so some wind techs come from technician jobs in other industries. Experience or training as an electrician also is beneficial.

As formal training programs are developed, employers are placing more emphasis on wind-specific education. Educational institutions—specifically, community colleges and technical schools—are beginning to offer 1-year certificate and 2-year degree programs in wind turbine maintenance. In certificate programs, students take classes in basic turbine design, diagnostics, control and monitoring systems, and basic turbine repair. For a 2-year associate degree, students complete the aforementioned types of classes in addition to general-education courses. Some programs also give students hands-on training and practice on school-owned turbines and machinery.


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not currently have earnings data for wind turbine service technicians. Data should be available in several years. According to industry sources, however, wind techs usually have starting salaries between $35,000 and $40,000. Wages and benefits vary by employer and geographic location.

Job Prospects

Industry sources report that there is currently a shortage of trained wind techs. Because many different companies are competing to hire these workers, the most experienced wind techs can command relatively high salaries.

Next week's green job series installment: Careers in Electric Vehicles

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