20 Best-Paying Jobs in Energy
Energy is currently one of the fastest-growing job markets. From the rising costs of gas to the movement toward renewable, sustainable energy, there are an incredible number of opportunities.
Whether you're just breaking into the job market or you're looking to make a move, energy has many highly paid and interesting positions. We rounded up some of the best-paying jobs in the energy industry.
What Does an Architectural Manager Do?
An architectural manager is responsible for the design and construction of buildings and other structures. It's important to note that an architectural manager isn't just a designer but both a designer and an engineer.
In energy, an architectural manager might work on the construction of solar farms or wind turbines. They develop plans and coordinate with engineers to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
What Does a Petroleum Engineer Do?
A petroleum engineer is responsible for extracting oil and gas from the ground. In energy, a petroleum engineer might work on developing new drilling techniques or improving the efficiency of current extraction methods. They also oversee the construction and maintenance of wells and pipelines.
This is a great job for people who want to be in control of their work environment and see the results of their efforts. It's also the "Cadillac" of energy-related science positions; few make more than a petroleum engineer. But it's not a great job for those who would prefer to focus on renewables.
What Does a Wind Farm Manager Do?
A wind farm manager is responsible for the daily, routine, safe and efficient operation of a wind farm. A wind farm manager might work on the development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of wind farms or to reduce emissions.
They also monitor the performance of equipment and make necessary adjustments. But in a lot of ways, it's like managing a business; you just need to make sure everything is working right. A wind farm manager is a type of production manager who can move across industries with ease.
What Does a Chemical Engineer Do?
In energy, a chemical engineer might work on developing new fuels or refining existing ones. They also develop environmental cleanup processes and ways to reduce emissions from power plants. Some chemical engineers are doing remarkable things with unexpected products, especially chemical engineers who specialize in biological components (like algae).
This job is for people who want to be in the lab more than the field. It's also great for those who would like to do government work or work focused on eco-friendly advancements.
Jobs in 2020:10,700
Job growth: 8%
What Does an Atmospheric Scientist Do?
Not sure what an atmospheric scientist is? Think “meteorologist.” A meteorologist is only one type of atmospheric scientist, but they all deal with climate, weather and pollution.
In energy, an atmospheric scientist might increase the efficiency of renewable energy installations or might audit the environmental impact of fossil fuels. Atmospheric scientists can predict short-term atmospheric conditions and assess long-term environmental change.
What Does a Solar Project Developer Do?
A solar project developer is responsible for the development of solar projects — but it's more than just that.
Solar projects are actually exceedingly complex, not just in terms of technology. There are environmental studies that have to be completed, they need to be managed and monitored for efficiency, and simulations are done to determine whether they'll be able to capture the most sun. Today, a lot of solar projects are integrated with wind farms to produce multiple types of renewable energy.
What Does a Materials Engineer Do?
What does it mean to engineer materials? Isn't everyone engineering materials, one way or another? A materials engineer is responsible for the selection, development and testing of materials used in products.
In energy, a materials engineer might work on developing new solar cells or lighter-weight materials for wind turbines. They also work with manufacturers to ensure that products are reliable and meet safety standards.
What Does a Geoscientist Do?
A geoscientist is responsible for the study of the Earth. In energy, a geoscientist might work on the development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of energy production or to reduce emissions. They also study how the Earth's resources can be used sustainably.
This job requires a lot of knowledge in a variety of subjects, from chemistry to Earth science. But it's perfect for those who want to help find new and innovative ways to use our planet's resources ... without long-term damage.
Average salary: $92,120
Jobs in 2020: 52,300
Job growth: 8%
What Does an Environmental Engineer Do?
This is the job for those who want to study and preserve the environment. An environmental engineer is responsible for developing systems to prevent or clean up pollution. In energy, an environmental engineer might work on the development of carbon capture and storage technologies or the cleanup of oil spills.
This job requires a lot of traveling and can be frustrating if you don't like change. But it's perfect for those who want to make a difference in the world.
What Does a Solar Engineer Do?
A solar engineer is responsible for the actual design of solar energy systems. In other words, they need to be able to take a solar panel and turn it into a functioning system that produces energy. This requires a lot of knowledge about electrical engineering as well as an understanding of the different types of solar panels.
Solar engineers need to be able to work with a variety of people, from homeowners to businesses. They also need to be able to work with different types of solar systems, from small-scale to large-scale. Unlike solar project managers, they're more hands-on and likely to work with individual components.
What Does a Power Plant Operator Do?
A power plant operator is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of a power plant. In energy, a power plant operator might work on the development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of power plants or to reduce emissions. They also monitor the performance of equipment and make necessary adjustments.
Of course, it's a rather life-and-death proposition. Today, there are many additional safety features for a power plant, and it's not as though you'd be operating a nuclear power plant. Still, the pressure can be on to provide power to many people.
While this position is highly paid, note that it is shrinking due to automation.
Average salary: $84,410
Jobs in 2020: 1,500
Job growth: 5%
What Does an Agricultural Engineer Do?
An agricultural engineer is responsible for the design and operation of agricultural systems. These agricultural systems can relate directly to emissions, as agriculture actually accounts for a significant portion.
In energy, an agricultural engineer might work on the development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of agriculture or to reduce emissions. They also develop environmental cleanup processes and ways to reduce water use.
What Does a Nuclear Technician Do?
A nuclear technician is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of a nuclear power plant. In energy, a nuclear technician might work on the development of new technologies to improve the efficiency of nuclear power plants or to reduce emissions. They also monitor the performance of equipment and make necessary adjustments.
This job can be hazardous, so it's not for the faint of heart or for those who take safety guidelines as "suggestions." It's also on the decline as fewer nuclear plants are being developed. But in the future, it may be a growth proposition again, as safer nuclear technologies are developed.
Renewable Energy Consultant
Average salary: $87,660
Jobs in 2020: 907,600
Job growth: 14%
What Does a Renewable Energy Consultant Do?
A renewable energy consultant is responsible for the development and promotion of renewable energy technologies. In other words, they need to be able to convince people that solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy are worth investing in. They're doing a pretty good job today, but it's been a bit of an uphill battle.
This job requires a lot of knowledge about the different types of renewable energy and an understanding of the intricacies of the current market. Moreover, it requires constant learning because renewable energy becomes more advanced every day.
What Does a Civil Engineer Do?
A civil engineer is responsible for designing, constructing and maintaining infrastructure projects. This includes everything from bridges to roads to water systems.
Civil engineers need to have a strong understanding of physics and mathematics and an understanding of the different types of materials used in construction. But they also need to understand people, how they work and how a larger city functions.
In energy, civil engineers develop city-focused energy works projects and assess the city's energy needs.
And a Few Entry-Level Positions...
If you want to get into the energy market, how do you get started?
With an entry-level position, of course — don't worry, we have those here for you, too.
What Does an Energy Sales Representative Do?
An energy sales representative is responsible for the sale of renewable energy systems. They work with homeowners and business owners to understand their needs and sell them the appropriate system.
Someone interested in getting into the renewables market who has a sales background can sidle into the industry sideways through this entry-level position.
Zoning and Permitting Specialist
Average salary: $62,860
Jobs in 2020: 129,300
Job growth: -3%
What Does a Zoning and Permitting Specialist Do?
A zoning and permitting specialist ensures that a solar or wind project complies with all zoning and permitting regulations. They work with civil engineers and land acquisition specialists to ensure that everything is up to code.
This position also requires a lot of research and communication skills.
Land Acquisition Specialists
Average salary: $58,650
Jobs in 2020: 78,700
Job growth: 4%
What Does a Land Acquisition Specialist Do?
If you're into real estate and want to be in energy, becoming a land acquisition specialist can help. These specialists are responsible for finding and acquiring land for solar and wind farms.
This position requires a lot of research and negotiation skills.
Wind Turbine Repair Technician
Jobs in 2020: 6,900
Job growth: 68%
What Does a Wind Turbine Repair Technician Do?
Why is this a great entry-level position? Just look at that 68 percent job growth. Plus, the field usually doesn't require any specific education.
A wind turbine repair technician is responsible for maintaining and repairing wind turbines. This requires a lot of knowledge about electrical engineering as well as an understanding of the different types of wind turbines.
It also requires incredible fortitude. The average wind turbine is230-feet tall. A new wind turbine is under construction that would be the size of the Empire State building. Wind repair technicians must climb these turbines to get to the top.
Solar Installer Technician
Average salary: $47,470
Jobs in 2020: 11,800
What Does a Solar Installer Technician Do?
Solar installer technicians are responsible for the installation of solar panels. They work with homeowners and business owners to ensure that the panels are correctly installed and maintained.
A solar installer technician is an entry-level position that resides under an engineering position, but it's still a great way to get into the business.
Energy Is a Growing Market
Renewable energy has been growing exponentially on a global scale. If you want a profession with a lot of longevity, a position within the sustainable energy market is perfect.
On the other hand, if you'd rather retire in the next five years, you should check out some of the fastest dying professions, instead.