Renewable energy is a major area of focus throughout the world as we strive to use cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy. That’s where energy engineers come in.
If you have an interest in both engineering and in the environment and sustainability, this can be an exciting career path for you. Keep reading to learn more about this field and what jobs look like for energy engineers.
What is Energy Engineering?
Energy engineering is a relatively new field of engineering that focuses on developing technologies that are both better for the environment and more efficient in the energy they produce. Energy engineers are also responsible for auditing energy production and enforcing environmental laws and regulations to ensure processes are compliant.
Energy engineers might focus on different types of systems, such as:
Wind or solar plants
They apply their engineering skills to produce results that are efficient in terms of manufacturing and production but are also in line with environmental best practices.
Energy engineers are in demand by a number of different industries, not only those who focus on green or renewable sources of energy.
For example, some hydro, gas, and oil companies will consult with energy engineers in order to reduce their environmental impact and learn how to use their resources more efficiently and sustainably.
Essentially, the main job of an energy engineer is to minimize the consumption of energy across all fields and industries.
What Skills Do Energy Engineers Need?
In addition to a passion for sustainability and the environment, there are a number of technical skills that engineers need in order to work in the industry.
Some of the technical skills you’ll need as an energy engineer include:
AutoCAD (Computer Aided Design)
Renewable Energy System Design Software
Other computer programming skills
Project management skills
Mathematical and scientific skills
Creative problem-solving skills
As energy engineers look at current problems in the way we use and consume energy, problem-solving skills are key to work in this field. In energy engineering, critical thinking can help you look at a problem and determine a creative solution.
Depending on your role, you might also need other skills such as communication skills, management skills, and even the skill to understand energy markets and trends in the industry.
Above all else, you need to be adaptable and able to learn quickly. The world relies on energy, but as with any technology, things develop at a quick pace and we’re always trying to keep up. The field of energy engineering is always on the cutting edge of innovative technology, so if you work in the industry you need to be prepared to work at a quick pace and adapt to different projects as they come up.
Energy Engineering Education
Like with most careers, the first step is to get the necessary education to begin your journey. As an energy engineer, you’ll need to begin with a bachelor’s degree in a field of engineering, like mechanical or energy engineering.
As part of your degree, you’ll take classes related to chemical science, renewable energy systems, mechanics, hybrid transport, differential equations, and other types of energy systems. Depending on your selected career path, you might also need to earn a higher degree such as a master’s or even a PhD.
Either while in school in the form of an internship or placement or when you’ve already graduated, you’ll need to get some hands-on experience working as an engineer. You might be able to land a junior role without experience, but in general, it’s good to have worked in the industry when you’re applying for the energy engineering jobs you want.
After your education, you’ll need to earn a professional engineering license. The details of the licensing depend on your state or where you live, but you’ll likely need to prove you have a degree, a certain amount of work experience, and have successfully completed your exams in order to qualify.
What Do Energy Engineers Do?
Becoming an energy engineer may sound like an exciting job title, but what do they actually do day to day? Since an energy engineer’s main focus is to reduce energy consumption while increasing efficiency, you can expect a lot of surveys, site inspections, and research in the job.
Here are a few other responsibilities that normally fall under an energy engineer’s domain:
Establish energy use benchmarks according to local or global regulations
Research greenhouse gas reduction
Research and present information on energy conservation projects
Calculate energy savings and performance changes when modifying a system
Work with engineers on drawings and reports when related to energy consumption and savings
Implement energy conservation programs and management tools
Who Needs Energy Engineers?
The opportunities for energy engineering jobs are vast, and you don’t only need to work with companies that are focused on sustainability or conservation projects.
Many big energy companies, especially in the gas and oil industry, look to energy engineers to improve their consumption and help them stay environmentally compliant. Companies like BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, and others have hired energy engineers to work on their teams.
Governments are another major employer of energy engineers. As governments invest in different types of projects or aim to comply with new regulations related to sustainability, they often need energy engineers to help lead, advise, or run their projects.
To Wrap Up
As the world starts to use more renewable energy, the demand for energy engineers will surely increase. Not only that, but it can be an extremely gratifying job to know that your work has a direct impact on the wellbeing of our planet.
If you’re interested in working in the field of sustainable energy but aren’t sure you want to become an engineer, there are other options for you. At University of the People, we offer tuition-free online degree programs in fields such as computer science and business administration so that you can affect environmental change in other significant ways.