How to Prepare for a Career in Clean Energy

Posted by in Career Advice

If you’re interested in working in the energy field—specifically clean fuel and alternative energy—colleges are responding by offering a number of campus-based and online degree programs. They’ll prepare you for a career in the science of cleaner fuels and energy sources. 

A recent report by Environmental Entrepreneurs revealed that as many as 50,000 clean energy jobs have been created nationwide. The jobs arose out of 137 project proposals in Q1 2012. These included projects and programs in various stages of development, primarily in energy, manufacturing, biofuels and public transportation. Solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and other renewable energy sectors accounted for 68 projects that would create over 18,000 jobs combined. The jobs covered the nation with Connecticut taking the lion’s share of total clean energy jobs in Q1, followed by Texas, Illinois, Indiana and North Carolina.


Some estimates note that the demand for administrative professionals with the skills to work on new power and energy systems will jump by nearly 10 percent over the next eight years. This prediction by government analysts has prompted schools like Southern Illinois University Carbondale to create new courses that prepare individuals for these career fields.

Schools like SIU and others have recently started accepting applications for degree programs in advanced energy and fuels management. The new degree programs will help prepare students for administrative positions in science, technology, engineering or agriculture.  In many cases, university administrators are teaming up with industrial advisory boards to fine tune curriculums. The goal is to ensure that qualified candidates can be quickly placed in the job market.


Similar programs are being offered that allow students to acquire expertise in a variety of power and energy systems. Students are exposed to critical business management techniques, organizational behavior, managerial accounting and project management.

Incidentally, if you can’t afford the room and board of a traditional campus-based degree program, you might consider enrolling in an online program. Online degrees from an accredited educational institution can be as  equally valuable as campus-based degrees. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Education indicated that “instruction conducted wholly online was more effective in improving student achievement than the purely face to face instruction.” 


There are also a number of energy internships you can sign up for. These are available through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Open to both graduate and undergraduate students; interns participate in ongoing lab research and development programs, spearhead new research, and collaborate with others via NREL's Research Participant Program. Students with new ideas and talents can contribute to research of mutual interest in NREL's research and deployment disciplines.

To qualify for these internships, you must be an undergraduate or graduate student enrolled full-time in a U.S. college or university, have successfully completed your sophomore year by June, and plan to continue full-time enrollment the following fall.


So if you’re eager to enter the clean energy field, there are plenty of jobs to be had. A great place to start would be these degree and internship programs. 




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