Renewable Energy: The Secrets behind Getting Ahead
Pursuing a career in renewables is both wise and rewarding. A rapidly developing industry, it produces thousands of jobs as well as offering long-term job security by renewables being a market of future necessity. Reflective of this is the fact that the UK alone boasts over 600 companies in wind and marine energy, promising definite slots to be filled and career advancements to be made. Here, we share our tips on how to get into the industry, as well as providing advice for those already with careers or companies in renewables to get ahead.
Looking to get into the industry?
If you're an undergraduate looking for a career in the renewables industry, look to organise some work experience or an apprenticeship with an engineering company in the Summer. You never know when the contacts you make at these opportunities will come in handy! As with all jobs, it definitely helps to have a relevant degree in the sector and IET, IMechE, and ICE qualifications are particularly favoured by the majority of large companies.
Choose your area. Where do you want to specialise? The environment that you will go on to work in is very much shaped by this decision, ranging from laboratories and out at sea, to home and on-site. Some will also offer more opportunities for travel and others for more regular hours. Behind each project is a range of roles and it is important to choose wisely which of the following areas you are most interested in within the renewable industry:
- Research, planning and development - e.g. data analysts, planners, software developers, GIS technicians, environmental analysts, oceanographers, ecologists, aerodynamics specialists, technical experts, scientists, mechanical and electrical engineers.
- Design and manufacture - e.g. procurement and selection of kit, technical designers, mechanical and electrical engineers, electrical and grid connection design, geophysicists, marine/technical experts.
- Construction and installation - e.g. project managers, contract managers, site management, cabling, civil engineers, and construction.
- Operations and maintenance - e.g. grid connection, electricity generation, physical inspection and maintenance, technician.
- Support services - e.g. business development, communication and public relations, human resources, finance, legal support, administration, facilities management
If you're a woman don't be put off. While the industry has always been recognised for being very male orientated, this is swiftly changing. Several companies have recognised and responded to this and currently more than 28% of those working in renewable energy in Scotland alone are female.
If you don't work for a renewable company but are looking at getting into the market, try to persuade your company to use more renewable energy sources. This is a great example that you can use in interviews in order to show you are passionate personally about the industry.
Already in the industry?
- Up your sales techniques and be aware of both the personal and government offered incentives behind a product, such as Renewable Heat Incentive (ROCs), Feed-in-Tarifs (Fits) and Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI). For instance, currently, given the choice behind a £500 boiler and a £5000 heat pump, there is likely to be a lot more inclination by customers to move towards the cheaper option. Make sure you are communicating the worth of a product to potential buyers and are clued up on every advantage that your product has to offer.
- A good way to do this is put your money where your mouth is and, if you haven't already, install your product within your own house. This will generate local interest and show that you believe in your product.
- Once you have decided which specific sector you are want to work in, stick with it. A slight downside to working within renewables is that it can be a rather niche market and employers can be rather picky about who they take on. Several companies are unlikely to take on engineers working in a bigger sector. This is often due to companies needing to demonstrate that they have an experienced and capable team of engineers in order to win contracts from bigger energy companies.
How can you get ahead in renewables as a company?
Make sure you're following the crowd with the switch to digital if you haven't already done so. With over 467 million internet users in Europe alone, the digital audience has never been so big - and neither has the opportunity for connecting your company with a huge audience. Some ideas to generate engagement are: the creation of a new site, or improving your current website presence, search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, email marketing, mobile applications and viral games.