Starting a Career in the Renewable Energy Sector

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As the UK strives to achieve ambitious net carbon zero targets by 2050, the spotlight is on renewable energy like never before.

Fast growing and innovative, this sector offers a number of exciting career opportunities for graduates and pivoters alike. If you’re passionate about the environment, interested in renewable energy and have a background in engineering, a career in the renewable energy sector could be the right fit for you.

Growth and skills shortages

The renewables sector is looking to support over 27,000 direct jobs by 2030. In fact, jobs in the sector are growing seven times faster than the national average according to the Renewable Energy Association. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), the sector could underscore the global recovery with global GDP gains of around $100tn until 2050.

However, that growth has exposed a skills shortage in the industry. Graduates and those looking for a career change will find opportunities in general and specialised engineering, ecology and design, alongside commercial and administrative roles.

What skills do I need for a career in renewables?

To start your career in renewables you’ll need the following skills and qualifications:

  • Engineering, science and maths 
  • Good analytical skills 
  • Innovation, problem solving and initiative
  • Communication 
  • Work experience in your chosen role
  • Understanding of the energy market
  • Project management
  • IT skills including AutoCAD
  • Knowledge of relevant legislation
  • A foreign language

Careers in the renewable energy sector

The renewables sector presents incomers with a wide variety of career opportunities. Most new projects are vertically integrated operations that require the contribution of a diverse team including ecologists, engineers, helicopter pilots and divers, communication professionals and business developers.

You’ll have opportunities to travel the world and work in a specialism that suits your strengths, whether that’s in the lab or out in the field. If you want to pursue a career offshore, it’s worth demonstrating your knowledge, skill and ability through an independently and objectively assessed offshore competency assurance process. This provides portable and on-going evidence as to your adherence to best practice.

As the UK transitions from its dependence on fossil fuels, the industry offers plenty of longevity and opportunities to build a long term career.

What’s your role in renewable energy?

Finding the right role for you will depend on your interests, qualifications and experience. The sector is hugely diverse with opportunities including:

  • Engineer: putting your scientific knowledge and technical know-how into the implementation of efficient and reliable power generating facilities
  • Technician: responsible for the day to day running and maintenance of a green energy facility
  • Analyst: assessing the impact of renewables and their ability to meet energy demand
  • Environmental consultant: offering guidance and support on regulations and best practice
  • Quantity surveyor: controlling finances from R&D to completion
  • Project manager: co-ordinating the workforce, problem-solving and keeping the project on track

Tips for succeeding in your career in renewable energy

So how do you start your career in this exciting and innovative sector? It helps if you have a real passion for engineering and the environment and you can offer previous experience. 

However, a relevant degree and the right skills are only part of the equation. There are a number of things you can do to grow your career in the sector and future proof your success:

Keep up to date with industry news

The better informed you are, the more likely you are to stay on top of innovations in this constantly changing field and present yourself as an expert in your field. Setting Google alerts, subscribing to industry journals and following the right news feeds on your socials will keep you abreast of new developments and your expert knowledge and insight will be invaluable for interviews, projects and pitches.

Build your networks

Networking with colleagues through LinkedIn and other social media gives you access to new opportunities and knowledge that can help you advance your career. Learn from industry leaders and innovators to stay up to speed with the latest trends and advances in the sector. Don’t forget to keep your online profiles up to date to showcase your accomplishments to your peers.

Stand out with knowledge and training

Your career development doesn’t stop once you land a role in the renewable energy sector. Keeping up to speed with technical knowledge and training is an excellent way to improve your prospects or help you move into a particular specialism. It’s also worth developing your management skills as an important part of your overall skillset.

Future proof your career in the renewables sector

A career in renewable energy is a long term option with a wide scope for development and advancement. If you have a scientific and inquiring mind, are looking for a career that gives you the flexibility to travel and work for yourself and you are passionate about being part of the green revolution, a career in the renewable energy sector will deliver longevity, challenge and satisfaction.