Many fields of study can lead to a career in the bioenergy industry.
Are you a recent college graduate looking to jump-start your career? Whether you majored in engineering or English, science or political science, business or biology, there are numerous opportunities to use your skills and education in the emerging bioenergy industry. Here are just a few examples of how people have put their degrees to work in the bioenergy field:
Business and Marketing
Just like any technology-driven industry, bioenergy needs start-ups, small businesses, and innovative entrepreneurs to get off the ground. You could be a business analyst, marketing and sales specialist, or manager of business operations at a bioenergy plant or other private business along the bioenergy supply chain.
Biology and Chemistry, Math and Engineering
Staying on the cutting edge of new scientific research was one of the things that attracted Dan Fishman and Leslie Pezzullo to their jobs as technology managers within the Energy Department’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO). Fishman studied environmental science and developed a mathematical model of microalgae populations. Now he is on the forefront of newly developing processes in BETO’s Algae Program, such as converting algae to bio-oil in 60 seconds. Pezzullo studied chemical engineering and manages the development of a variety of biochemical technologies for BETO’s Biochemical Conversion Program. Scientists and engineers like Fishman and Pezzullo are essential to research centers, the national laboratories, and bioenergy companies throughout the country.
Information Technology and Computer Science
Researchers, policymakers, and private industry need computer programmers and designers to create online tools and databases that help visualize and illustrate important concepts. For example, the Bioenergy Knowledge Discovery Framework (KDF), developed by programmers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, allows researchers to contribute and analyze data using maps and other online tools. Computer programmers are needed across the industry wherever digital resources are developed so that bioenergy information can be communicated clearly and effectively.
Political Science and Public Policy
Agencies throughout the federal government work together to coordinate research and development activities that grow the bioenergy industry. Ashley Rose, a BETO consultant, uses her dual degrees in political economy and law, along with political science-American politics, to help facilitate interagency government work in renewable fuels through the Biomass Research and Development Board. Through this work, she is able to foster collaboration of bioenergy research between the Energy Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies. Other public policy-related career opportunities are available within the federal government, national laboratories, and nonprofits.
English and Communications
National laboratories, for-profit biofuel companies, and non-profit bioenergy organizations all need professional communications staff who ensure key information about the importance of their work is strategically and effectively delivered to stakeholders and the public. BETO communications specialist Leslie Ovard thought she had to choose in college between her love for English and her love for environmental science policy, but now both have merged together in her position at BETO. In a technical field such as bioenergy, Ovard says that skilled communicators with technical knowledge are especially valuable because they can translate complex energy topics into plain language that the general public can understand.
Go to energy.gov/eere/education to find jobs, internships, training, and explore careers related to bioenergy and other clean energy sectors. Also, register and attend BETO’s Biomass 2014: Growing the Future Bioeconomy conference from July 29 to July 30 in Washington, D.C., which features industry leaders and experts representing many different professions.