Career Opportunities in Offshore Wind

I recently read comments on a forum which were discussing careers advice for a young person looking for a job in Renewable Energy.  Some were still sceptical about the opportunities available in this alternative energy job market, but others fully appreciate that while 20 years ago, Renewable Energy was still a bit of a pipe dream, there is no doubt today that this is already a viable and necessary alternative for home grown energy production, and there is already an existing and fast growing demand for entry and experienced level workers, particularly in the Offshore Wind sector.

Where Do I Start?

There are many levels of entry into Renewable Energy careers, depending on your starting point, from apprenticeships to Graduate level, and in between there are opportunities for skilled and experienced workers to transfer their skills from other industries across into this emerging market.  Ex-military personnel too have also been particularly identified as suitable candidates for jobs in Offshore Wind at skilled technician level, and with a bit of help from my article on How to Write an Ex-Services CV, here is an industry with employers specifically looking for those with a military background.

As a school leaver with some GCSEs you could enter on an apprenticeship scheme to gain NVQs, and develop a skilled trade while you work as a craft or technician apprentice, in 3 years time you will have a trade, a qualification and a career in a sector with growing demand regardless of the state of the economy.  You could in a very short space of time have a career offering challenge, travel and progression.

At Graduate or Post Graduate level, degrees in Science, Engineering, Maths and Technology are ideally suited to this industry, with Universities working increasingly closely with the Renewables industry and offering modules specifically designed for Renewable Energy careers.

Choose Your Door

The career disciplines in Offshore Wind Farms fall broadly into 4 categories:

  • Development and Consenting
  • Design and Manufacture
  • Construction and Installation
  • Operations and Maintenance

For those who are already established in their career and wanting to change to this sector, it is not always necessary to have prior experience in Wind, Wave, Tidal, or Solar jobs.  Many skills are transferrable, for instance a diver, ROV pilot or skipper having worked on an offshore supply or installation vessel in the Oil & Gas industry may be just as suited to working on offshore wind farm installations.  A construction or civil engineer with relevant deep water experience of installation or design of foundations for North Sea Oil Rigs would have plenty to offer the construction stage of offshore wind farm jackets and piles in hazardous and harsh subsea conditions.  Similarly Geotechnical Engineers, marine biologists, seismologists and environmental engineers would all have skills that are directly transferrable to the development and consenting stage.  Electrical and Mechanical engineers and technicians may have prior relevant experience for design, operation and maintenance of the Nacelles and Turbines and the grid connections, and Planners and Project Engineers would be required at all stages of the life cycle of a wind farm.

Supply Chain Job Opportunities

The supply chain from other sectors is now waking up to the opportunities on offer here.  I recently had a conversation with an established steel tube manufacturer who had completely moved away from Oil & Gas, and set up exclusively to serve the Wind Farm supply chain, where they foresee a 25 – 30 year market in their region alone.   They are confident that their existing workforce will be just as relevant serving the Renewable sector, with many of the processes and skills required being identical.  A recent report from Ernst and Young concluded that the UK is the most attractive place to invest in Renewable Energy.  It quoted £861million alone already earmarked for offshore supply, and installation vessels, and with 50% more demand for electricity predicted by 2050, it looks like a career in Offshore Wind or the industry supply chain may well be a wise career choice.

If you are considering a job in Renewable energy, have you browsed the hundreds of live jobs on this site?  If you are serious about a move into Renewables or even just browsing, make sure you register for live job updates or upload your CV now.

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9 comments so far

  1. Daniel Alexoiu
    #1

    Hi Rowena. As just 2 years experience eng. in renewables (Romania’s wind farm)I find renewable energy as excellent opportunity, challenging job. We’re at the beginning of the onshore but most probable offshore will follow in 5-6 years. I congratulate you for the article above and for the link where “hundreds of jobs” are waiting for those in need for an excellent opportunity in renewables.

  2. Iain Cameron
    #2

    Major offshore wind generation manufacturers are coming to the UK to set up factories – on a scale which reminds me of Japanese vehicle manufacturers arriving 25 years ago

  3. John Wilkerson
    #3

    Rowena,

    The move to renewable energy will continue but not at a pace that will be measured like the space race of the 50’s and 60’s. This is a generational change that will require many decades to fully implement.

    Despite the social and environmental benefits associated with a more eco friendly and renewable life, the process of change will require education and the relearning of our youth. Yes we are moving forward and continue to see wonderful changes but it is the desire to change how we live our everyday lives that will ultimately spark the rethinking of how we generate power. That change is hard to foster in adults but with continued learning and proper role models, we will see our children far out pace any achievements we have obtained.

    Yes careers exist and will continue to grow in the renewable energy markets. But it is the softer side of reducing our waste and purchasing more environmentally friendly products that will drive our marketplace and teach the children to rethink their parent’s lives.

    John Wilkerson Power Earth Warehouse http://PowerEarthWarehouse.com

  4. r.j ravenhorst
    #4

    Well with aprox. 20yrs. const. management, and 4 yrs. field/PM experience within renewables, I would say there are great advantages to entering into a fairly new market..new as in…. financial gains have not been completely set in most cases.. this acts as a great vantage point for with experience, The workload is less then traditional construction as a PM, however because of all the new components and code changes…either field or managers must watch for constant changes and unsure leadership… I recommend joining the renewable industry if you are non-aggressive, modivated, fluent in production and process standards. The pay rate in Canada is still one of the highest, however U.S installation companies have somehow managed to drive our labor rates down to there existing level. thats roughly 30 % of what our rates for field personnel were just one year ago.

    R.J Ravenhorst/GWN Consulting Groups..

  5. Darren Cooper
    #5

    Fossil fuels are finite. Carbon emissions are a global issue. Conventional and alternative energy sources such as nuclear are not without risks (BP’s gulf disaster, Japan!) . Renewable energy such as wind, wave and solar are the future and are here to stay! They are clean, reliable and safe and becoming more and more cost comparable to conventional energy sources. The wind, waves and the sun provide free energy (until someone figures out how to tax their use!) For those looking for career advice I recommend any sector of renewable energy and the environment.

  6. Ashok
    #6

    Hi Rowena,
    I am from India, and it seems that attention is still to be given in offshore wind power sector in India. We have enough onshore, but all of them are fed up with land acquisition problems.
    Career opportunities will follow, but business opportunity is Best here in India. Requesting the attention of concerned…..

  7. Michael Dela Pena
    #7

    The challenge is to decipher between the health of the job market relative to the overall economy and recognizing the true level of opportunities within the region of your focus to derive your own assessment of the market. What may be dire in one location can be fruitful in another.

    Elements such as political influence, local economies, regulations and incentives, acceptance of technology (to name a few), each contribute to the perceptions (and realities) of the green job market. Simply offering a general statement has the potential to be misleading and provides ineffective guidance to the new “champions” seeking a career path in this promising industry.

    Each person must look at their immediate surrounding’s unique elements and perform their own assessment. What reports sometimes fail to show the industry-curious are the many green business seeds that have been planted that are ran by business owners who are hungry for green talent. This awareness can only be achieved through the assessment and networking.

    What’s exciting to know is that there are opportunities out there…hundreds of them, even in the midst of economic recovery! Many companies are adding wind divisions to their portfolios. Again, the challenge here is to understand that opportunities are the result of your own observations supported by your level of information gathering.

    [Full article: http://wp.me/p1fXM1-4K

  8. Ashok
    #8

    Hi Rowena,

    Further to my post, I don’t know how the offshore windmills ate fixed. but I suggest to go through the possibility of making them on floating laminated ferro-cement platforms, which may bring down the cost effectively, as well as help the operators to change the positions as and when required. I know some well established fabricators and one of my friends is best in designing floating ferro-cement platforms. If somebody is interested, I think I can connect them.
    I am not an expert in that, it is just a suggestion.

  9. Dermot Grimson
    #9

    There are a very wide range of jobs in the offshore wind industry now and in the future. From undertaking bird counts and environmental reports for the consenting phase, through to low tech fabrication, research into new technologies such as floating turbines and high reliabilty direct drive turbines. There is also the opertaions and maintentance phase – opportunities for jobs and new business start ups. The largest programme is the Crown Estate’s round 3 of 25 GW (around a quarter of the UK electricity demand). The consenting process has already started with the associated jobs with the build out starting in 2014. Total estimate of job numbers is 60,000 plus.

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