Are you mechanically inclined? Do you enjoy climbing tall ladders and yearn to join the green economy? If so, consider retraining and switching to the fastest-growing job in the U.S. — wind turbine technician.
Windtechs install wind turbines and keep them running. The job involves maintaining and repairing the wind turbines. As the U.S. pushes green power, wind turbine technician jobs could increase by 61% from 2019 to 2029.
It’s a complicated job that takes about two years to learn in a technical or vocational school. In addition to course work, about a year of on-the-job training is required. This could include an internship with a contractor who services turbines. Apprenticeships are another way to go. Sometimes unions or contractors take on apprentices. This route requires 2,200 hours of paid on-the-job training, plus 144 or more hours of technical instruction.
One wind turbine technician, George Myers, transitioned from working jobs as a rancher and police officer to becoming a wind turbine technician in Colorado. His new job was more technically challenging than he expected, and not for the timid. “The scariest thing I found myself doing is replacing a blade,” he told The Atlantic. “You have to go on the outside, lie down on the gel-coated nose cone, and balance your feet on that rounded blade to hook equipment up to pull it off.” Although workers are harnessed in for safety, Myers points out that wind turbines can be taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Windtechs can’t be afraid of heights, must be comfortable working in tight spaces and have to be physically fit enough to climb tall ladders. “One of the things I do now is I “climb test” potential employees,” Myers said. “They have to be able to climb the ladder to the top of the tower, and go out on the roof. In our park, that’s just shy of 300 feet, basically a football field standing up.” Once workers get to the top of that ladder, they do most of their work inside the confines of the nacelle, the compartment which houses the sensitive electronics.
The rewards? Median annual salary for a windtech is $52,260, with a range of $36,000 to $76,000. If you want an active, in-demand job in the green economy, check out wind turbine technician opportunities.