Seeking Careers in the Renewable Energy Field

If a person wanted to make a career designing residential and some commercial projects, what would be your suggestion as a starting point? In my area, we receive both good wind and periods of good sunshine for developing systems that employ both solar and wind. — J. Hall, Skaneateles, New York

I am receiving many e-mails from readers on jobs in the industry, particularly in the design, sales, installation and service sector of the industries. First, while the clean energy industries are growing more than 30 percent per year, the biggest bottleneck in this growth is in the product delivery chain to the customer. When I get asked “how should I enter the field?” my first response is to approach existing service vendors. In system design, architectural and engineering firms are a good start in your locality. They may have someone, either full or part time, assigned to the renewable or distributed energy or green building sectors, and they may want to add or train someone in providing services. So check with people locally or go to the local Yellow Pages. Second, the existing solar integrator, design, sales, installations and maintenance firms are growing, and they may need to add employees. Contact them, again checking the Yellow Pages in your area, or even better at “FindSolar.Com” or via the State Chapter lists from the websites of the American Solar Energy Society or the Solar Energy Industries Association (see links below). I also urge approaching corollary industries that might want to set up some kind of parallel business in addition to their core business: HVAC contractors, building security companies, local telecommunications and cellular/tower companies, and traditional backup power companies now primarily offering diesel or battery banks — since they may want to expand to cleaner applications. ( lists jobs opportunities, which can be broken down to suit your search.) Local unions, such as IBEW, have a concerted effort to train their members, and I am sure local electricians, carpenters and builders are also beginning to add jobs in this field. So think out what may be best in your area, reach out to established and new players. Good luck in finding a job, we need lots of new blood in this field as we scale-up and grow. — Scott Sklar
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Scott, founder and president of The Stella Group, Ltd., in Washington, DC, is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Energy Coalition and serves on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, and The Solar Foundation. The Stella Group, Ltd., a strategic marketing and policy firm for clean distributed energy users and companies using renewable energy, energy efficiency and storage. Sklar is an Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University teaching two unique interdisciplinary courses on sustainable energy, and is an Affiliated Professor of CATIE, the graduate university based in Costa Rica. . On June 19, 2014, Scott Sklar was awarded the prestigious The Charles Greely Abbot Award by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and on April 26, 2014 was awarded the Green Patriot Award by George Mason University in Virginia.

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