The average growth rate for all occupations is seven percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for wind turbine technicians?
That means the amount of men and women employed fixing and maintaining wind towers will more than double between 2014 and 2024. There’s no denying it– wind techs are in demand.
“Each turbine can be viewed like an airplane on a stick,” says Daniel Lutat of Iowa Lakes Community College (one of the country’s largest training schools for techs). Imagine the electrical, mechanical and communications systems of an airplane. Wind techs maintain and repair these complex technical elements, all while perched hundreds of feet in the air. Some of their main job tasks include:
- Testing and fixing electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems
- Collecting data
- Upkeep of other aspects of a wind facility, such as underground transmission
Some wind techs build new turbines, but most of their work involves maintaining ones that already exist. An area of particular importance lies within the nacelle, the portion that sits on top of the tower. This hub contains hundreds of parts that that come together to generate electricity.
I recently visited Vantage Career Center in Van Wert, OH. This school purchased a nacelle trainer in advance of starting their new training program for wind techs. This miniature replica of a nacelle will be used for hands-on training for college and high school students.
How to become a wind turbine technician
Becoming a wind tech requires specialized training at a trade school or community college, typically a two year program resulting in an associate’s degree. After their classroom training, wind techs also receive on-the-job preparation from their employer to learn about the specific turbines they will be working on.
What does it take to become a wind tech?
Being a wind tech is not your typical 9-5 desk job. Climbing towers and lifting equipment requires physical strength and stamina. Afraid of heights? You’ll need to conquer that fear to put on a harness and ascend towers on a regular basis. Experience in electrical and mechanical engineering, physics, and mathematics is also ideal.
Where are wind tech jobs located?
Most wind tech jobs are located in the center of the country and west coast. This makes sense – the jobs are near the turbines, and those areas are where most of the country’s wind towers have been built. But there are utility-scale wind projects in 41 states, and every one of those wind farms needs a team of technicians to keep things running smoothly. As wind energy expands to other areas, including offshore development, even more techs will be needed.
For more information about the profession, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website. And check out this video to hear straight from source what it’s like to work as a wind tech: