Wind technicians are on the front lines of the growing renewable energy sector as they repair and service wind turbines and troubleshoot problems on site. Working in the field, sometimes traveling from site to site, these highly skilled tradespeople get to use both head and hand capabilities. People interested in this position must be comfortable outdoors and with heights, be physically fit, and be versatile with computers and tools.
These jobs are already in high demand, and the sector is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that wind technician jobs will increase by 68 percent this decade. About 1,400 new job openings are anticipated annually. The median wind tech salary range is around $56,000, and some companies offer sign-on bonuses.
Beyond a high school diploma, some specialized training is required. Companies like General Electric, Vestas, and Orsted—those that employ large numbers of wind technicians—have well developed training programs. Wind technician training is also available at some community colleges, and may be part of a two-year associate’s degree program. Programs vary considerably. Some private institutes offer certificates after a six-month intensive training while others offer a combination of online coursework followed up with an intensive boot camp of hands-on practice.
A typical curriculum features units on:
- wind energy basics and terminology
- safety procedures, OSHA 30 and first aid/CPR
- mechanical skills including tool use and troubleshooting problems
- basic electrical and hydraulic theory along with practice on the use of meters and other equipment
- climbing and rigging
- radio communications
As New York expands its commitment to offshore wind, training center initiatives are being funded by NYSERDA. These include the New York Offshore Wind Training Institute program through SUNY’s Farmingdale State College and Stony Brook University, and a training program at Schenectady Community College. These institutions are developing a plan to disburse up to $3 million in funds to support skills development in disadvantaged communities. A new National Offshore Wind Training Center, located at Suffolk Community College, recently received $10 million from the developers of New York’s Sunrise Wind project. The Center of Excellence for Offshore Energy at SUNY Maritime College in The Bronx is developing training courses as well.
In New York State, many jobs are based in high wind potential areas such as Long Island and western New York. Offshore Long Island is a hotbed of wind energy activity with several new projects planned to come online that will help New York meet its ambitious renewable energy goals.
Up and Around the Industry
The world of wind also employs meteorological technicians, who chart weather patterns and help choose the best sites for wind turbines. There is also work in construction and site preparation, where tasks range from brush clearing and pouring of foundations to creating access roads. Of course, there is more highly specialized work involved with design and manufacturing wind power components, as well as research into future technology. As the industry grows, so will jobs in administration and management, finance, IT, sales and marketing, customer support, and maintenance of systems.
For information on wind energy training programs, go to Windexchange.energy.gov/training-programs.