Get Buzzed: A Look at the Future of Energy Jobs in 2019

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
Jan 7, 2019

Jan 7, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

The future of energy jobs in the United States is exploding into 2019. The renewable energy sector is creating thousands of new jobs for entry-level, intermediate, and skilled workers.

Despite a decrease in renewable energy jobs from 2016 to 2017, the past year shows the highest employment numbers yet in the energy sector. This article takes a look at the future of energy jobs in 2019.

Find out where the energy sector is growing and shrinking. Learn about the jobs that are most in demand for the industry. And, how will the fossil fuel sector be affected by rising demand for renewables?  

The Future of Fossil Fuel Energy Jobs

The coal mining industry produced over a million tons of coal in 2006. Since 2006, coal production has steadily decreased across the United States. By 2017, coal production was down over 30 percent from its 2006 peak.

As for petroleum oil drilling in the United States, production peaked in 1970. Since then, the total barrels of oil produced by the United States has decreased every year.

The one area of fossil fuel production that has increased in recent years is natural shale gas mining. Even still, in November 2018, shale gas extraction only accounts for around 150 thousand jobs in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the natural gas industry supports over 10 million jobs in the United States. But the jobs supported by natural gas production are the same that are supported by renewable energy jobs.

According to the 2017 Department of Energy's U.S. Energy and Employment Report, the renewable energy sector employs around three million people, whereas, the fossil fuel subsector only employs around one million.

Fossil fuel production is not long for this world and the future of the industry does not have longevity. In its stead, the renewable energy sector is creating more jobs for every dollar spent on energy production.

The Future of Renewable Energy Jobs

2019 is poised to be the best year for job creation in renewable energy production. A brand new economy is emerging from renewable energy production jobs.

Wind and solar technician jobs are growing at up to 15 times over the national average. And renewables help support job growth in the energy storage sector. View here to find out why lithium-ion batteries are the best storage medium for renewable energy.

In 2016, the U.S. Energy and Employment Report found that the solar industry grew its workforce by 25 percent, and wind jobs increased over 30 percent.

Renewable energy jobs are on the rise. New ventures for green energy is taking place in every state across the United States. From entry-level installation to construction project management, you can find a career in...

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy production that uses the planets internal heat as an energy source. The core of the Earth creates enough heat to satisfy the entire planet's energy needs. Getting to the heat source, however, is the tricky part.

Geothermal hotspots are scattered across the Earth, where the heat from the core makes its way close enough to drill from the surface. Drilling for geothermal heat reservoirs is expensive but provides a renewable, inexhaustible energy source.

Careers in the geothermal energy subsector focus on the scientific analysis of geological sites for drilling. Geothermal energy is only accessible from particular locations on the Earth, just like oil drilling.

Skilled oil drillers are in high demand for geothermal energy producers. It is much cheaper to hire a workforce with experience in drilling, rather than to train a completely new one. Workers that have experience in drilling for oil can make a clean transition from the fossil fuel industry to geothermal renewable energy.

Those with scientific degrees stand out in the geothermal energy subsector. Most of the important work is done from an office, where scientists study charts and surveys to determine the best site on which to drill. Emerging geothermal companies hire full-time scientific teams or individual contractors to perform the analysis of different sites.

The energy plant is built directly over the geothermal drilling site. Geothermal companies employ a wide range of skilled workers to construct and operate the plant. In addition, environmental studies and consultants serve to ensure the plant receives the proper permits.

Plants employ geologists to spend time in the field identifying possible drill sites. They determine which of the potential sites offers the closest and most abundant access to geothermal energy.

By studying the rock formations, topography, and history of the landscape, geologists make recommendations for the most cost-effective drilling sites. Plants hire seismologists to monitor the area's seismic activity and predict impending earthquakes.

Hydrologists are hired to analyze and study the area's water movement, distribution, and properties. Natural waterways are important indicators of geothermal activity, as well as groundwater acidity.

Wildlife biologists are employed by geothermal companies to make recommendations on how to limit the plants' impact on the local wildlife ecosystem.

Geothermal energy production opens up a wide range of jobs for professional scientists. Though, the availability of geothermal hotspots is less than that of solar and wind hotspots.

Wind Energy

Wind energy has massive potential for supplementing the nations energy needs and is a rising star in the renewable energy sector. The Department of Energy says that by 2050 wind power could account for over 35 percent of the nations total electricity production.

Over the next fifteen years, the United States expects to see the wind energy subsector create around 250 thousand jobs. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Wind Turbine Technicians are the fastest growing occupation in the country.

Wind Turbine Technicians perform the maintenance, installation, inspections, and operations of a wind turbine. Wind power companies also employ meteorological technicians to install, maintain, and operate meteorological towers. These towers provide information on a locations viability for wind energy production.

Wind turbine technicians and meteorological technicians are an entry-level job that leads to higher-paying careers in wind energy. A degree or experience in an engineering related field is helpful for swift advancement. Most companies look for candidates completing a two-year training program, which are available in all 50 states.

Solar Energy

Solar power production is the largest growing subsector for energy jobs. As of 2017, fossil fuel production accounts for around 25 percent of energy jobs, with solar close on its heels. The solar energy subsector accounts for nearly 20 percent of all the US energy sector jobs.

The solar industry employs a wide range of skills, specializations, and levels of training. There are solar jobs available for entry-level workers, all the way up to skilled professionals.

To be sure, the White House Administrations vacating of the Paris Climate Agreement does not help the industry. But, even without resolving a Green New Deal for American workers, private energy companies all over the nation are making the switch to wind and solar.  

The price of solar energy production is continuing to drop and is now less expensive than fossil fuel energy production. That means that there will be more openings for CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Operators, mechanical engineers, manufacturing technicians, and more.

Final Thoughts

There is no stopping this wave of renewable energy jobs. In 2019, renewables account for the most cost-effective energy production. No matter the stance taken against clean energy alternatives by the Trump Administration, private businesses will refuse to pay more for energy production.

Wind and solar are cheaper than drilling for oil or coal, and they are giving natural gas a run for its money. The future is bright for energy jobs in the United States, so get buzzed for the new green-energy-wave.

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