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How to Become an Energy Engineer

This career plays an important role in improving the processing and distribution of energy. The results of this industry include cost and waste reduction for businesses and individuals. What is an energy engineer? What does an energy conservation engineer job description entail? How much do energy engineers make? What level of education is required to become an engineer? This depends on the job, experience, and even location.

an energy engineer working at the desk

What Does an Energy Engineer Do?

These engineers develop solutions for improving energy consumption and use. Through research, design, documentation, and construction they implement green solutions, cutting down environmental impact and cost. Careers in energy engineering include those in wind and solar energy.

Energy Engineering Definition

Energy engineering is the process of extracting and converting resources into energy. In new energy engineering, the development and improvement of green technologies reduce energy consumption.

Key Skills & Traits

Energy engineers are environmentally conscious and proactively seek solutions to problems. They’re analytical with a passion for math and science. They enjoy pioneering new and little-known technologies, paving the way to efficiently manage energy.

Renewable Energy Engineer Job Description

What is a renewable energy engineer? These engineers focus on sustainable energy planning and management. This includes the development and design of energy-efficient tools and machinery.

Junior Energy Engineer Job Description

An energy efficiency engineer career begins at a junior-level. The following duties are typically included in the job description for a junior engineer.

  • Assess and research existing site energy usage to identify areas of improvement.
  • Work collaboratively with other engineers in developing new or reviewing existing plans.
  • Support all project aspects including construction, operations, and maintenance.
  • Prepare proposals including cost estimates and project design.
  • Coordinate with vendors and contractors for resources and project completion.
  • Provide operational and construction support throughout the project.
  • Assist in the project design and documentation using design software.
  • Support the creation and presentation of documents and project updates.
  • Comply with industry standards for renewable energy sources

Senior Energy Engineer Job Description

A senior position generally requires the following duties.

  • Proactively identify energy opportunities for new and existing energy management.
  • Develop all work documents describing the scope of work and cost estimates.
  • Conduct site walk-throughs of current technologies, including cost, maintenance, and other pertinent information. Lead energy audits.
  • Provide support to other engineers in determining and implementing solutions.
  • Effectively communicate status updates and project needs.
  • Oversee training for the technology owner or operator.
  • Present documentation and project plans to clients and prospects.
  • Follow and promote compliance and safety.
  • Ensure that the scope of work is complete on all project plans and documentation.

Solar System Engineer Job Description

Solar engineers may work on varying project sizes from home installations to a solar project for a city. Depending on the project, a solar power engineer job description typically includes day to day tasks such as:

  • Consultations with existing and prospective clients.
  • Assessment of project sites.
  • Inspect solar installations.
  • Complete compliance reviews.

Wind Energy Engineer Job Description

What is a wind energy engineer and what does a wind energy engineer do? An engineer specializing in wind energy works on the design and installation of wind farms. There are many aspects to wind engineering. The day-to-day can vary depending on the engineer’s specialty. Job descriptions include:

  • Design wind farm layouts, taking into account existing infrastructure onsite and nearby.
  • Oversee the manufacturing of wind turbines and other hardware.
  • Test each component and document the result of each completed test.

Where Do Energy Engineers Work?

These types of engineers usually work during standard business hours, though working hours are dependent on the project and client. Engineers in some specializations will find themselves spending more time in the field or traveling than in the office.

Where do solar energy engineers work?

When learning how to become a solar energy engineer, it’s important to understand the work environment. Frequent travel may be necessary. For example, a domestic renewable energy engineer works mostly at job sites on installations and maintenance.

Where do wind energy engineers work?

Depending on the wind engineer’s specialty, their work location can vary. Some work can be completed in-office while much of it is on-site. Some engineers work from a home office due to the high volume of travel to work sites.

What is the Average Renewable Energy Engineer Salary?

An energy efficiency engineer salary is dependent on factors including experience, specialization, and job location. Some salaries, like the energy systems engineering technician salary, are lower because the job requires less education and training. Licensed engineers will earn a higher salary due to their education and experience. The table below shows the annual wages of engineers by state. 

StateLow SalaryMedian SalaryHigh Salary
New Hampshire$53,090$80,830$117,070
New Jersey$59,070$97,060$158,510
New Mexico$52,910$85,900$129,990
New York$60,270$92,810$155,090
North Carolina$54,590$80,480$126,610
North Dakota$54,090$78,820$124,410
Rhode Island$38,050$83,420$134,940
South Carolina$48,340$77,200$132,710
South Dakota$53,340$73,660$106,060
West Virginia$45,550$79,890$123,170

Junior Energy Engineer Salary

A graduate renewable energy engineer makes less than a mid or senior role. As the engineer gains experience their salary and job level will increase.

Junior Solar Energy Engineer Salary

For this career, the average entry-level salaries for junior positions are around $56,470 annually.

Junior Wind Energy Engineer Salary

A junior wind engineer makes approximately $54,780 per year starting their career.

Senior Energy Engineer Salary

The senior energy systems engineering salary is much higher than that of a junior role. Senior engineers have several years of experience and often become licensed in Professional Engineering.

Senior Solar Energy Engineer Salary

In 2018, the highest-paid solar engineers made $132,340 or greater.

Senior Wind Energy Engineer Salary

The top 10% of wind engineers made more than $142,560 in 2018.

What Is the Job Demand for an Energy Engineer?

Job demand varies by industry. The need for these professionals is projected to grow faster than average over the next 10 years with solar photovoltaic (PV) installers in the greatest demand.

an infographic showing the US job demand for energy engineer

Energy Engineering Education Requirements

When looking into how to become an energy engineer, it is important to consider the extensive education and training programs. A four-year college degree is generally necessary. Many employers will require additional renewable energy engineer training and licensure.

What are the educational requirements for an energy engineer?

What are the educational requirements for a wind energy engineer? What are the requirements for solar engineers? The solar and wind energy engineer education path both include earning a bachelor’s degree in an engineering program. It is encouraged to gain additional training in an undergraduate program or as an energy engineer intern.

What are the educational requirements for an energy engineering technician?

These types of sustainable engineering jobs typically require an associate’s degree. Additional on-the-job training is typically provided by employers.

Energy Engineer High School Recommendations

High school students can begin preparing for this field in several ways. Computer Science and Computer-Assisted Design are two electives that can help students prepare for a future engineering role. Some schools can place students in internships and job shadowing opportunities.

Energy Engineer College Education Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is required for most related roles. Higher-level engineering jobs may require a master’s or a doctorate.

Which classes are key to be an Energy Engineer?

Taking classes to earn a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program is required. A solar or wind energy engineer degree may be from industrial, mechanical, electrical, or chemical programs.

How long does it take to become an Energy Engineer?

It can take upwards of 8 years to become an engineer. This is dependent on the job being sought after. Most engineering roles require a 4-year degree. With a degree, a graduate energy engineer will enter the field working under senior engineers. As their knowledge grows, they’ll take on more responsibility, moving through the ranks and salary tiers. To become a certified energy engineer additional training is necessary. The engineer must have at least 4-years of relevant work experience and complete the Fundamentals of Engineering and Professional Engineering exams.

  • Environmental Science & Climate Change -Learning through the lens of climate change adaptation and mitigation, this program will allow students to step into enriching careers that make a difference.
  • Renewable Energy Management – The Sustainable Energy Management program teaches wind and solar energy assessment and design. Upon completion, students will be prepared for a job in the sustainable energy industry.
  • Sustainable Business Management – Students who major in this course will obtain the financial and environmental skills necessary to take on a leadership role in sustainable energy. Skills include the design and technologies of growing an energy-efficient business.

Additional Certifications and Licenses

Additional certification and licensing include:

  • Fundamentals of Engineering – Taking the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first step in becoming licensed as a Professional Engineer. This exam is typically taken upon graduating with an engineering degree.
  • Professional Engineering – This exam is the final step in becoming licensed. It requires 4 years of work experience and the completion of the FE.


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