How to Start a Career in Renewable Energy

Andy Robinson | September 12, 2023

The green transition is underway, and the global demand for clean, cheap, and renewable energy is reaching a crescendo.

According to the IEA’s World Energy Employment Report 2022, renewable energy has now “surpassed the 50% mark for its share of total energy employment.”

In other words, there are more people working in renewables than in fossil fuels – and yet, even now, the latter reigns supreme.

Last year, over 75% of the world’s energy came from the burning of fossil fuels. But, as we work to secure a liveable future, this number will inevitably decrease.

To accelerate this trend, more people must get involved – and fast, considering the green energy transition is still nowhere near meeting the conservative goals the world’s governments have set.

The smart career choice

If you’ve never worked in the renewable energy sector, it’s probably easy to believe it consists only of solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians.

But these are just two paths in an infinitely diverse and constantly expanding space

In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, more than five million renewable energy jobs have been created in the last decade alone.1

But this is just the start. Momentum’s still building, and we’re nowhere near terminal velocity.

Depending on where you live, you may soon see the electrification of your surroundings. Domestic EVs, decarbonised public transport, heat pumps, battery storage, solar panels, and wind turbines are popping up everywhere – and, if we want to live on a safe and habitable planet, there’s no reason for this progress to slow down.

So what does this mean for you? Endless possibilities. All you need to learn is how to seize them.

Whether you’re a fossil fuel expert with skills transferable to the renewable energy industry or a STEM graduate, software developer, or lawyer, you’ll be needed. Climate change affects everyone, so climate action must include everyone.

Let’s see how you can join the movement.

Step 1 – Research

It’s important to take the time to evaluate your options and consider the skills and qualifications you might need before you start your renewable energy career.

The IEA, IRENA, and UNEP are industry websites that dissect the sector and share insights that’ll prove valuable in your research. Saul Griffith's Electrify: An Optimist’s Playbook for Our Clean Energy Future is just one of many accessible yet comprehensive books published in recent years that are loaded with sector-specific information.

Specialist job boards like Rejobs are also worth joining, if only so you can see the jobs being listed and the criteria for each of them. You can sign up for Rejobs Newsletter to stay on the pulse of the renewable energy job market.

Step 2 – Personal development

Once you’ve figured out which route you want to take, you’ll need to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills.

For the more technical jobs, you’ll probably need a relevant degree, but this isn’t always the case. There are other paths you could follow if you don’t have or want a degree, including apprenticeship or internship schemes.

Depending on what sort of role you’re after, you may find value in completing online courses and attaining academic certification that way.

Step 3 – CV and cover letter

Acquiring the right knowledge, skills, and experience is half the journey. The other half is marketing them.

You’re going to need a CV that accurately and concisely reflects your story so far while emphasising the bits most suitable for whichever job you’re applying for.

It doesn’t have to be long-winded – in fact, anything more than two or three A4 pages is probably overkill – but it does need to be detailed enough to show hiring managers you’re properly equipped for the job.

Don’t overdo it with the design. Just keep it simple and professional, and use bullet points where necessary.

And make sure you attach a cover letter alongside your CV, especially if you’ve never worked in the renewable energy sector before. It’s your chance to introduce yourself, inject a little personality to your application, and showcase your passion.

Nobody hires people who don’t want the job, so it’s important to put into words your reason for applying, and why you think an interview with you would be worth the hiring manager’s time.

Again, when it comes to the design, keep it simple. If you can, make sure the font and overall design match or are at least similar to your CV - and don’t waffle!

Step 4 – Networking

You’ve got the skills. You’ve written your CV and cover letter. You’re applying for roles.

Now what?

It’s time to get yourself out there.

Industries are like echo chambers, and renewable energy’s no different. Everyone’s connected somehow, either directly or indirectly. A lot of people know each other – or, at least, of each other.

So get involved.

Attending industry conferences, joining professional networks, and connecting with renewable energy professionals on LinkedIn will open doors you never knew existed.

Because people don’t hire CVs. They hire people.

Keep things light and pressure-free, and try not to spam your new connections with questions or favour requests. Right now, it’s enough to be on their radar – although there’s never any harm in asking if they’re hiring or know someone who is.

Time for a recap

Renewable energy is an exciting and expanding sector, full of opportunities that didn’t exist a decade ago.

We all know there’s no future in fossil fuels, but not everyone knows how to secure a job that’s focused exclusively on renewable energy.

So, to recap, here’s what you need to do:

  • Research the sector to decide which route into renewables you want to take.
  • Upskill yourself to the required level, be it through degrees, courses, or apprenticeship schemes.
  • Optimise your CV and cover letter before applying to anything.
  • Make connections and start conversations with people who already work in the renewable energy sector.

And, as a fifth and final tip: be patient. Unless you’re very lucky, nothing will happen overnight. So stay calm, keep practising the above points, and know you’re on the right track.

For more practical advice and actionable insights, make sure you’re following us on X and LinkedIn.


Article by Andy Robinson

Published on September 12, 2023

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