Good Skills To Have To Start A New Career In Energy

Posted on February 7th, 2011 by

So what are these “green collar jobs” everyone is talking about and where can I get one?

Green collar jobs are the 21st century equivalent of blue-collar manufacturing jobs in the 20th century.  They provide good wages and stable work for the millions of people installing solar panels, conducting home energy audits and weatherizing these homes for maximum energy efficiency.

And guess what?  You can begin this promising new career today, regardless of previous knowledge, training or experience.

It might seem daunting to start a brand new career in the energy economy, especially if you’ve been working in your current field for your entire life and have already mastered those skills.

Fortunately for people already employed as, “plumbers, electricians, satellite dish or cable installers, battery bank or diesel backup installers, cellular or Wi-Fi systems installers, or alarm and security equipment installers – setting up an energy efficiency, solar water heating, photovoltaic, or small wind business is not too different,” says Scott Sklar, president of the Stella Group (a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean energy companies).[1]

While some experience in the abovementioned fields certainly makes the training process faster, no experience is necessary to get started.  Training courses offered by continuing education institutions offer comprehensive courses to train energy auditors, weatherization contractors, solar installers and small-scale wind technicians.

Let’s take a look at some of the fastest growing and most popular energy career options.

Energy Auditors and Weatherization Contractors

Energy auditors use various tools and inspection criteria to determine how homes and other buildings can be retrofitted to maximize energy efficiency and lower utility bills and operations and maintenance costs.  US New and World Report listed energy auditors as one of the best small businesses to start.[2]

Since private, public and government support for energy efficiency is increasing, so too is the need for energy auditors.  The 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act subsidizes the cost of completing an energy audit and some of the costs associated with implementing the audit suggestions.  You can pursue a career as an energy auditor, weatherization contractor, or both.

Necessary Skills and Training:

  • Possess a baseline understanding of construction, electrical and mechanical concepts
  • Complete a training course like the Energy Auditor Certification Classes, which provides comprehensive building analyst, envelope professional and weatherization training.
  • Become certified as a RESNET HERS Rater and/or a BPI Building Analyst or Envelope Professional.


Photovoltaic Installation Technicians

Photovoltaic systems use various methods to harness the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity.  While residential PV Installation businesses require more initial capital investment, the typical home system costs $30,000 and it is not unfeasible to install two or three systems a week.  This allows you to repay initial investments quickly, especially considering the skyrocketing demand from homeowners to “see their meters run backwards.”

Necessary Skills and Training: Since the solar installation field is growing quite rapidly, it is often hard to find trained professionals.  To start out in this field you should have:

  • Basic construction, mechanical and electrical knowledge
  • Taken few training courses like the Solar PV Design & Installation Classes offered by
  • Obtained solar PV certification through NABCEP
  • Obtain your solar license through the appropriate local authority


Solar Hot Water Technicians

Solar hot water uses various systems to harness the sun’s energy to make hot water.  It is an easy and effective way to increase the home’s energy efficiency and lower utility bills.  Various federal, state and private subsidies are available to homeowners, which encourage them to install solar hot water.

Necessary Skills and Training: Solar hot water installation can be coupled with a PV Installation business or embarked upon singularly.  It’s important to have some basic knowledge first.

  • Have basic construction, mechanical, electrical and plumbing knowledge
  • Take a training course to hone your skills and improve your credibility.  Check out the Solar Thermal Training Course offered by
  • Obtain solar thermal certification through NABCEP
  • Obtain your solar license through the appropriate local authority


Small Wind Technicians

While less common than solar PV, some homeowners are installing small-scale wind turbines to produce electricity.  Most experts say that the wind only needs to average 5 mph to create enough electricity to be cost effective.  This is possible in virtually every area of the country.

Necessary Skills and Training:

  • Basic construction, mechanical and electrical knowledge
  • Take a training course like the Wind Energy Training Course offered by to learn the basics of wind installation
  • Certification from NABCEP, which recently announced the upcoming addition of small-scale wind certification to its service offerings.

The Bottom Line

The clean energy economy is growing by leaps and bounds, the startup costs are low and the necessity of previous knowledge, training or experience is nonexistent.  All you need is the will to succeed.  Taking a training course will put you on your way to a successful and rewarding career.  It trains you in the details of clean energy installation, lends credibility to your skills and sets you apart from the competition by ensuring clients that you will complete the job efficiently and effectively.

Written by Kate Waller, is a leading institution providing training that prepares professionals to pursue careers in clean energy.  Everblue is a veteran-founded organization with a best-in-class, continuing education curriculum that prepares professionals for all facets of the exploding green building, clean energy, and corporate sustainability industries.  This provides the workforce of tomorrow with the necessary skills to succeed in the “green-collar” economy.

[1] Glenn Croston Ph.D, Starting Green: From Business Plan To Profits (Entrepreneur Press, 2009), 272.

[2] Croston, 219.

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One Person has left comments on this post

» Vlad said: { Feb 7, 2011 - 05:02:54 }

I’m currently studying urban planning and trying to figure out exactly what I want to do when I get out of college. Good article!

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