Interested in an Energy career? Use these resources to explore this fast-changing field.
Searching for a career with challenge, creativity, and advancement options? That's Energy. Energy is a dynamic and high-demand career field.
Which energy career is right for you?
Learn about Energy Career Clusters. These options in four broad areas cover a variety of skill and education levels.
Energy Career Paths:
A career path is a group of related career specialties within a common career or industry cluster.
A career is a series of steps a person takes in the world of work. These steps are jobs, education, and sometimes volunteer experiences. Often these steps build upon each other. Once you've had an entry-level job for some time, you may have the knowledge needed to advance to a position with more responsibility. A "career path" is a collection of those steps. It shows many of the possibilities for jobs at the beginning, middle, and end of a particular career.
Workers often take different paths through related careers. Most careers don't have just one strict way to move from position to position. Instead, there are usually several options depending on your skills and interests. The order of your path is often called a "career ladder." A career ladder is just one potential path a worker could take within the wider variety of choices.
What Career Paths Are Found in Energy?
There are many paths to advance within energy. With increasing experience and more education, additional opportunities open up. For example, if you work in an energy operations plant, your career ladder may look something like this:
- Entry-level: control room helper
- Mid-level: control room operator
- Senior-level: plant operations supervisor / manager
Interested in learning about jobs in the energy industry, but not sure where to get started?
Discover the types of jobs that exist in wind, ethanol, residential energy-efficiency, and commercial energy-efficiency industries. Dig deeper into the specifics of a certain job, including pay, education and training requirements, and skills needed.
Commercial Energy-Efficiency Industry:
Large-scale commercial and institutional buildings like offices, malls, schools, and hospitals use almost 20 percent of the energy consumed in the nation. Increasing the energy efficiency can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, but can also drastically reduce operating costs for building owners. Jobs in commercial energy efficiency will likely increase with energy prices as building owners seek to reduce their operating costs and carbon footprints.
Changes in technology make energy-efficiency improvements possible for commercial buildings. Complex electronics programs enable automated building systems to monitor human behaviors and adjust systems such as lighting, air flow, and heating accordingly. Also, advancements in energy-efficiency technologies give building owners new options for lighting systems, windows, or roofing materials that can reduce costs. Simply maintaining and properly operating existing equipment can lead to increased efficiency and job opportunities.
View the commercial energy-efficiency career paths diagram (220KB, .pdf).
Electric Power Transmission & Distribution Industry:
The demand for energy increases over time as populations grow and create a need for more homes, factories, office buildings, consumer products, and public infrastructure. To meet this demand, electricity must not only be produced, but also transmitted to areas where people live.
Significant growth in the transmission and distribution field is expected because the current infrastructure is inadequate to deal with continued increases in energy demand. The state's growing wind industry also needs infrastructure to bring energy from remote portions of the state to population centers where the demand is the greatest. In addition, many members of the transmission and distribution workforce will soon reach retirement age.
View the electric power transmission and distribution career paths brochure (625KB, .pdf).
Residential Energy Efficiency Industry:
With increasing awareness that inefficient homes are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, more environmentally-minded people are taking action to increase the energy efficiency of their homes. The high cost of heating in the winter also pushes people to find ways to save by making structural modifications to their homes.
In the field of residential energy efficiency, there are many products and services available to make homes less wasteful. Some people choose to retrofit their homes. Others weatherize their houses to increase the efficiency of the existing structure. When the time comes to replace old appliances, more efficient models can be purchased. Even landscaping can increase the efficiency of a home by providing shading and wind screening in colder months.
View the residential energy-efficiency career paths diagram (450KB, .pdf).
Choose an energy occupation to see related licenses. Some careers list options for two or more licenses. Locate license requirements, fees and licensing authority specific to the state of Minnesota.
Choose an energy license title. Locate occupations related to this license, license requirements, fees and licensing authority specific to the state of Minnesota.
What is it really like to work in an energy career?
One of the best ways to find out about a specific career is to talk with someone in the job. A current employee can tell you what they really do all day long, how they got into the field, and the inside scoop about the industry. Find out if you would like an energy career by reading the energy "Day in the Life" interviews below.
Mike Childs, Residential Energy Auditor: Neighborhood Energy Connection
My job as an energy auditor makes every day a new experience, filled with new people and new challenges. When I'm completing an energy audit of a home, I begin by meeting with the client and talking about the process and goals of the inspection. Next, I closely examine the home, from the attic all the way down to the basement. I pay attention to wall and attic insulation, windows, appliances, and anyplace the home could lose heat or cool air. During the audit, we use basic tools like a screwdriver and tape measure, and more complex tools like a blower door or an infrared camera. Wondering what a blower door is? Interested in hearing more from Mike? Read Mike's full interview.(234KB, .pdf)
Listen to the interview.
Ryan Hunt, Engineer: R&D Projects and Shop Manager Hunt Utilities Group, LLC
My job consists of providing leadership to our team in the shop as we tackle projects surrounding renewable energy and sustainable housing construction and materials. I spend a lot of time researching materials and methods, following up on communications, and working out in the field or in our workshop. My job requires me to be very flexible. I enjoy the new challenges and excitement that come with every day. The best way to get involved in this field is to talk with people, learn about what's going on, and work hard. Interested in learning more about these renewable energy and construction projects? Read Ryan's full interview.(270KB, .pdf)
Listen to the interview.
Jason Edens, Solar Panel Installer Rural Renewable Energy Alliance
The days around our organization are always different, with people working on manufacturing solar energy systems and installing them at peoples' homes. Installers work with a wide variety of tools and do everything from solar electricity to solar air heat to solar water heat. We are a non-profit organization committed to helping low-income families solve their fuel poverty with clean energy. We have to be flexible, knowledgeable, and able to keep up with this fast growing field.
Hoping to learn more about the solar energy industry and what it is like to work in it? Read Jason's full interview.(181KB, .pdf)
Listen to the interview.
Didn't get enough from this interview? Learn more about the solar energy industry, Jason's work, and the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in the solar panel installer interview extras.(169KB, .pdf)