Continued growth in the U.S. wind industry requires trained and qualified workers to manufacture, construct, operate, and maintain wind turbines. Additionally, the nation will continue to need skilled scientists and engineers who can develop the next generation of wind power technologies.
In 2019, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory published the report, The Wind Energy Workforce in the United States: Training, Hiring, and Future Needs, to provide a national assessment of the wind industry workforce and hiring needs and to uncover educational pathways that would help close any gaps. In the report, researchers identified a notable disparity: students are graduating with degrees specific to the wind industry, but they’re having difficulty getting hired. At the same time, the wind industry is reporting difficulty in finding qualified applicants. This gap between students and industry highlights the need for increased awareness about wind energy occupations and future analysis on training opportunities that are needed to fill the rising demand for new workers to support the industry.
The Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) addresses the wind industry’s workforce needs through various targeted investments. For more information, see the WETO projects map and select Program Area: Workforce Development, Education, and Stakeholder Engagement.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also works with other federal agencies that are heavily invested in training and education—such as the Smithsonian, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education—to fill existing gaps and ensure that federally sponsored training activities and educational programs are appropriately targeted and complementary.
Collegiate Wind Competition
The U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition challenges undergraduate students from multiple disciplines to design and construct a wind turbine according to set specifications. The students investigate innovative wind energy concepts, gain experience designing, building, and testing a wind turbine, develop a business plan, and increase their knowledge of issues facing the wind industry in the United States. The Collegiate Wind Competition is designed to attract engineering, business, and science students to wind-related fields, provide them with practical knowledge and wind experience, and showcase tomorrow’s promising workforce to industry leaders.
Wind Career Map
The DOE Wind Career Map was developed to show the broad range of careers and skillsets across the wind industry and highlight routes of advancement between jobs within and between wind energy sector. The tool also shows current or prospective job seekers additional information such as wages, experience and skill expectations, and educational requirements for mapped occupations.
The Wind Career Map was developed by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory with input from experts from the wind industry in order to assist in the recruitment, training, and advancement of skilled workers in wind energy related occupations.
On-Demand Wind Training
A training course called Selecting, Implementing, and Funding Distributed Wind Systems in Federal Facilities is available through the Whole Building Design Guide’s Continuing Education webpage and is accredited by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training. The course is primarily targeted at federal agency staff members responsible for renewable energy project development so they can make fact-based, data-driven decisions about whether a distributed wind project would be appropriate and cost effective for their agency. It was developed by PNNL with support from NREL, on behalf of DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program.