What Skills Do You Need in a Clean Energy Job?

Renewable energy remains the fastest growing field in the wider energy industry, offering diverse career opportunities across a number of different sectors.

For professionals seeking a role in clean energy, or even those currently working in more ‘traditional’ fields that wish to switch, it’s important to understand the transferable skills that you’ll need in the role.

Whether you’re just starting out, looking to advance or considering a career change, here’s the skills you need for a clean energy job.

5 Skills Needed for a Clean Energy Career

The following skills are extremely desirable if you’re considering a role in clean energy:

1. Technical Expertise

As you might expect, the most important skill for building a career in clean energy is a technical understanding – sometimes referred to as ‘hard skills’. Whether you’re working in solar, wind or renewable natural gas, you’ll need to understand how the various equipment and systems operate, the typical processes you’ll see on a day-to-day basis and how to monitor and report on this information.

This is particularly important for engineering or plant operation roles, where you’ll be directly interacting with complicated equipment or systems regularly. In these cases, having hands-on practical experience is almost necessary. You’ll want to build experience with internships or entry-level roles that allows you to drive career development.

Increasingly, it’s also important that professionals working in this field develop strong software-based skills. You’ll likely be using these different platforms for analysis, simulation, energy modelling or planning so having a deep understanding is ideal.

2. Project Management

In many cases, project management skills can support a professional in the clean energy field even if they’re not a project manager. Effective project management is at the core of many renewable energy projects – requiring deep planning, clear objectives and established timelines.

Organisation is key for ensuring projects stay on task and run smoothly. The majority of professionals in the field will have to keep track of performance, progress and make the necessary adjustments if aspects of the project begin to fall behind. Likewise, these professionals will have to deliver regular updates to stakeholders or line managers and with the right skills, these updates will be concise and clear.

Risk management and problem solving are two more ‘soft skills’ vital for finding success in a clean energy career. Risk management largely revolves around anticipating challenges and ensuring that there are ways to mitigate these issues in place. Problem solving is how you arrive at these solutions, how quickly you can develop solutions and ensuring that you have an answer for some of the complex or unprecedented issues that this career often throws up.

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3. Communication and Interpersonal

This applies to any role but having good communication skills is vital to finding long-term success throughout your career. Unsurprisingly, effective communication is also vital in the clean energy sector.

Professionals in this sector generally have to deal with diverse teams – sometimes globally – alongside a variety of stakeholders involved in this project. With good communication, you can share information and ideas both effectively and importantly, concisely. Understanding the different demographics you’re talking to is also a skill in itself. Being able to adapt your communication style and tone is important and desirable with employers.

As part of this skill set, you’ll often implement active listening skills. It’s vital to understand the needs and perspectives of other professionals, colleagues or collaborators, which active listening directly affects. Remember, teamwork and communication works best when there’s mutual respect and transparency.

4. Adaptability

By nature, renewable energy is a field that is constantly shifting and evolving. New technologies and processes are constantly being developed, meaning adaptability is almost a necessity for renewable energy professionals. If you’re open to change and able to switch your approach on the fly, you’ll be in a much better place to innovate and take on these new methods.

A great way of maintaining your adaptability is by continuously learning and staying relevant in the sector. Take the time to attend webinars, courses or workshops where you can. Not only are these great opportunities for networking but they provide you with the opportunity to ensure your knowledge is always relevant.

When it comes to all of the skills on this list, adaptability is probably the most important – outside of technical expertise. The ability to adapt on the fly ensures that energy professionals can not only succeed but excel.

5. Environmental Awareness

Understandably, environmental awareness and a clear understanding of sustainability is critical in the renewable energy field. If you understand the impact of your work on the planet, you’re better equipped to develop and support clean energy solutions. Remember, when we say environmental awareness we’re not just talking about regulations, we’re talking about a vested interest in environmental protection. 

That said, staying ahead of changes in legislation and regulation around sustainability never hurts. You’ll want to know best practices, advancements in sustainable processes and develop a better understanding of how to optimise energy production.

Generally, it’s the role of an energy professional to foster, maintain and expand a culture of sustainability. They’ll be expected to encourage eco-friendly practices amongst different stakeholders and ensure that any key decisions directly contribute to sustainable outcomes.

Clean energy jobs require a variety of different skills but if you have some of the above, you have a great foundation to build a successful career. Luckily, many of the above are transferable skills that you can build across a variety of career paths and you may already have them in your arsenal. With that in mind, if you’re considering a switch to a clean energy job, get in touch with us today.

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