This is a time of change for the hydropower industry. With more than a quarter of the domestic hydropower workforce over the age of 55, reaching retirement age in the coming decade, the need to build a strong workforce pipeline has never been more critical. To be successful, the industry needs new, diverse talent to fill jobs across many different occupations, spur innovation, and support the evolving role of hydropower in the U.S. electrical grid.

Hydropower is one of the nation's main sources of renewable energy generation and the largest source of utility-scale energy storage. Hydropower is an essential contributor to the U.S. power system in terms of energy generation and storage. Moreover, the flexibility and energy storage provided by hydropower enables the integration of other renewables into the grid, delivering a renewable energy source that can help the United States achieve its aggressive climate goals.

The role of hydropower as a "force multiplier" for other renewable energy resources makes it an important asset for an evolving electrical grid. The hydropower industry continues to innovate to leverage opportunities for growth, like retrofitting non-powered dams and adapting operations at existing facilities to mitigate effects on communities and the environment. Innovations such as low-impact hydropower, safe fish passage, and more inclusive planning processes like the Uncommon Dialogues (Stanford University undated) are being used to facilitate more sustainable outcomes for hydropower infrastructure.

There are many career paths in the hydropower industry for workers with a wide range of technical and nontechnical skills. With jobs in professional and business services, manufacturing, utilities, trade and transportation, construction, and more, the industry offers career opportunities for workers with transferrable skills regardless of their hydropower experience. A large portion of hydropower jobs are focused on the operation and maintenance of hydropower facilities, with the largest share of workers in craft and trade professions. Hydropower also offers a range of career paths in engineering, professional, management, and administrative roles.

Learn more about degreed and vocational hydropower jobs using the career map below. A text version of the career map is also available.

Want to learn more about hydropower? Check out OpenEI's STEM for Hydropower page.