Career Map: Wind Technician

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Wind Technician

Position TitleWind Technician
Alternate Title(s)Wind Tech, Windsmith, Wind Turbine Service Technician
Education & Training LevelHigh school diploma or equivalent
Education & Training Level DescriptionMost wind turbine service technicians learn their trade by attending a technical school. After completing a 2-year technical program, employers usually provide on-the-job training, typically lasting over 12 months.
Brief job description Wind technicians install, inspect, maintain, operate and repair wind turbines. Wind technicians are capable of diagnosing and fixing any problem that could cause the turbine to be shut down unexpectedly or fail to operate properly. 
Preferred Level of EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent
Preferred Level of ExperienceSee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Estimated/Expected SalarySee the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information.
Job Profile

Although some wind technicians are involved in building new wind turbines, most of their work is maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing them - particularly the nacelles—which contain the equipment that generates electricity.

Wind technicians typically do the following:

  • Inspect the exterior and physical integrity of towers
  • Climb towers to inspect, troubleshoot, or repair turbine equipment
  • Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis
  • Perform routine maintenance on wind turbines
  • Test electrical components and systems, as well as mechanical and hydraulic systems
  • Troubleshoot mechanical, hydraulic, or electrical malfunctions
  • Service underground transmission systems, wind field substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems
  • Replace worn or malfunctioning components.

Maintenance schedules are largely determined by hours of operation, but can also vary by manufacturer. Most manufacturers now recommend annual maintenance, which involves visual inspections of components, fastener torque checks, and lubricating parts. For turbines that operate year round, typical maintenance may occur one to three times a year and turbines are monitored electronically 24 hours a day from a central office. If a problem is detected, wind technicians must travel to the worksite and perform as-needed troubleshooting, repair and service.

The average workday is spent climbing and inspecting multiple turbines. Technicians use computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions. Any problems they notice during the examination are reported and scheduled for repair.

Technicians do a majority of their maintenance work in the nacelle, where the drive train components and sensitive electronics are housed. Nacelles are built very compactly, and wind technicians must be able to work in confined spaces, inside the nacelles, hubs and rotors. Turbine technicians regularly clean and lubricate shafts, bearings, gears, and other machinery. They also use handheld power tools and electrical measuring instruments to troubleshoot any electrical faults in the control cabinets, generator, and other onboard electrical and electronic systems.

Wind technicians must work outside, on the top of the nacelle. They might, for example, have to replace the instruments that measure wind speed and direction, or work with large cranes for component repair or replacement. When outside, turbine technicians can be hundreds of feet in the air and need to have a heightened sense of safety. They wear fall protection full body harnesses that are attached to appropriately rated tie off points on the nacelle and move cautiously while working.

Wind technicians are also responsible for administration of the site. These technicians may be responsible for anywhere from one turbine to hundreds of turbines on a large wind farm. They are responsible for ordering spare parts, and ensuring there is a proper inventory of parts available for needed repairs, as well as the day to day turbine operations.

Job Skills

Wind technicians have familiarity with all systems of the wind turbine including structural, mechanical, electrical, controls, communications, electronic components, hydraulic systems, and environmental safety and health systems. The following skills are necessary:

  • Mechanical skills. Wind technicians must understand and be able to maintain, troubleshoot and repair all mechanical, hydraulic, braking, and electrical systems of a turbine.
  • Physical stamina. Wind technicians must be able to climb on ladder systems to height of turbine nacelle, often with tools and equipment. Some tower ladders may be 260 feet high or taller. Therefore, wind technicians should be able to work for long periods without tiring easily.
  • Physical strength. Wind technicians must lift and climb with heavy equipment and parts and tools. Some weigh in excess of 45 pounds.
  • Troubleshooting skills. Wind technicians must diagnose and repair problems. When a turbine stops generating electricity, technicians must determine the cause and then make the necessary repairs.
  • Comfort with heights and confined spaces. Service technicians often must repair turbines that are at least 260 feet high. In addition, technicians must work in confined spaces in order to access mechanical components of the turbine.
  • Documentation. Wind technicians must document and submit reports on the results of testing, inspections, repairs, or problems they find when carrying out inspections and repairs. Their writing must be clear and well organized so that others can understand the reports.
Resources

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Wind Turbine Technicians

Back to Wind Career Map