Becoming a Wind Turbine Technician
As more and more countries become interested in alternate energy sources, especially clean renewable energy sources, the demand for wind turbines and the technicians that work on them have grown immensely.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) produced their 2019 Wind Powers America Annual Report and stated there are more than 60,000 wind turbines in the United States alone and the technology is responsible for seven percent of all electricity production. This is only going to increase as the years proceed and fossil fuels become much scarcer.
As a result, becoming a wind turbine technician is a good career path for those who may be interested.
How Wind Turbines Work
Wind turbines work in a similar way to how a water wheel generates electricity. To put it simply, wind turbines create energy from aerodynamic force. As the wind turns the two or three blades on the turbine, energy is stored to be used.
Generally, the wind speed is somewhere between eight and 16 miles per hour. One small wind turbine for residential areas, if an adequate amount of wind is attained, can produce enough power to supply several homes all year long.
The larger wind turbines can provide enough energy for a complete year for more than 100,000 homes. There is a demand for wind turbines as governments are seemingly interested in investing in wind power, solar energy, and various other types of renewable energy sources.
Enter: Wind Turbine Technicians
Wind turbines could not provide constant energy without the continued maintenance from wind power technicians. Think of wind turbine technicians as like the mechanic that works on cars, except on a bigger scale and often being hundreds of feet up in the air.
Also known as wind techs, they not only install the actual wind turbine, but perform routine inspections, maintain the operation of them, and will conduct any repairs that are needed. With the knowledge gained through their education, they can diagnose and fix just about any problem that wind turbines may encounter and keep them running.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind turbine technicians can earn between $40,000 and $80,000 a year.
How to Pursue a Career as a Wind Turbine Technician
There are several possible avenues you can pursue in education when wanting to become a wind turbine technician. You will have options to choose from.
The first step is to research which community colleges and technical schools in your area offer programs that can lead to you becoming a wind turbine technician in a timely manner. There are accredited programs available that will have you graduating with a certificate or something similar in two years or less.
Areas of study will generally include electrical maintenance, mechanical, braking systems, hydraulics, computer programming, and even first-aid and CPR as wind turbine techs can face danger during their job. Anytime a person works at great heights and with electrical maintenance, there could be risks.
Similar to other trades, there are apprenticeships available for learning on how to become a wind turbine technician that will also pay you at the same time. Being paid to learn a new skill is not a bad trade-off, especially if classroom learning is not your ideal way to gain knowledge.
On-the-job training could be ideal also for someone that has to have some sort of income during this time. Job shadowing experienced wind turbine technicians could lead to a foot in the door with that specific company in the future.
Once Certification Is in Hand
An associate degree in applied science from a community college can open doors for you, but a certification can be handy, too. With wind farms popping up in more places, your certification can enable you to work virtually anywhere.
In addition, there are certifications available also in specific areas such as tower climbing, electrical safety, and self-rescue that would be beneficial for this type of career.
If you are interested in staying local or traveling the world a bit, there are opportunities. Plus, it will build your resume as the more experience you receive, the higher salary you can potentially earn.
A Trade for the Future
Once again, as more wind turbine farms emerge around the globe, this kind of trade could keep you employed in an interesting career. Furthermore, knowing that you are providing clean energy to millions is something that should be valued as well.
As more companies look for social causes to get behind, wind turbines and wind turbine technicians will be valued greatly.