Even though the new Administration has promised to bring back coal jobs, the future of work won’t be fossil fuels. If you’re looking for a job in the energy industry, renewable energy is leading the way.
The 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) finds that the Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors today employ approximately 6.4 million Americans. These sectors increased in 2016 by just under 5 percent, adding over 300,000 net new jobs, roughly 14% of all those created in the country.
According to the report, Electric Power Generation and Fuels technologies directly employ more than 1.9 million workers. In 2016, 55 percent, or 1.1 million, of these employees worked in traditional coal, oil, and gas, while almost 800,000 workers were employed in low carbon emission generation technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and advanced/low emission natural gas. Just under 374,000 individuals work, in whole or in part, for solar firms, with more than 260,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar. There are an additional 102,000 workers employed at wind firms across the nation. The solar workforce increased by 25% in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32%.
So where will the jobs be in 2026?
The Atlantic notes that “clean-energy workers, like solar-panel installers and wind-turbine technicians, are the only occupations that are expected to double by 2026.”
The clean energy industry has been boosted by big subsidies on wind and solar power, however, it’s up to state and local governments to pass supportive legislation to promote renewable resources and the jobs to support them. For those looking for a job in clean energy jobs, look to state and local governments that are already wind- and solar-friendly — including places like Hawaii, Idaho, Delaware, and Washington state.
But green energy is more than just a fossil fuel alternative. Small innovations are making big impacts around the world, including making light without an electrical grid and running an entire island nation on 100 percent renewable energy in the next decade.
Working in green energy is also more than just installation jobs, or getting training in installing solar power panels or wind turbines. Getting renewable resources from idea to consumer requires lobbyists to change current policy at both the local and federal level, marketers to help influence public opinion, software designers to make the energy process the most efficient it can be and electrical engineers to keep it running.
Just a few of the fastest growing jobs in the sector to consider include a wind turbine technician, solar installer, clean car engineer, sustainable builder, and a sustainability professional.
No matter the position, it is indisputable renewable energy impacts daily life by making energy consumption cheaper and better for everyone on the planet.