How to Become an
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
The whole world is undergoing an energy transformation. Companies and governments are investing millions of dollars in clean, safe, and renewable energy sources. The energy industry is experiencing one of its best years, and this progress shows no evidence of slowing.
If you want to expand your knowledge of energy sources and how to create clean, safe energy projects for people, you should learn how to become an energy engineer. In this guide, we break down required skills and education, salaries, and job outlook.
What Is an Energy Engineer?
An energy engineer is a person in charge of energy projects. These workers are experts in directing power plant construction, creating power system budgets for various enterprises, planning energy-saving strategies, and other related tasks.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become an Energy Engineer?
To start your career in this industry, you should know that most companies hire people with academic degrees. Education is fundamental to becoming an energy engineer.
A university is an ideal place to gain the knowledge necessary for this career. Energy engineering is a combination of chemistry, mathematics, physics, economics, and environmental science. Each of these subjects will aid the work of an energy engineer.
Best Energy Engineer Education Tracks
Most companies hire energy managers or engineers with university degrees, so the most beneficial option is a bachelor’s degree. If you want to become a successful energy engineer, pay attention to the education tracks available to you.
A community college offers two-year programs where you can learn at the same level as a four-year university. You will receive an associate degree, which you can use to access great job opportunities in the United States.
Clinton Community College, part of the SUNY system in New York, is an example of a junior college that offers associate degree programs for aspiring energy engineers. Its Associate of Applied Science in Renewable Energy Technologies covers electrical technology, science, mathematics, industrial technology, and other topics related to renewable energy.
After receiving your associate degree, you will be an entry-level energy technician. A report from Salary.com says that an energy technician with an associate degree earns between $56,140 and $61,368 per year.
Energy Engineering Degrees
The university is the leading training center for new energy engineers. With a bachelor’s degree, you can go on to a career in energy systems engineering, energy engineering, mechanical engineering, or other related fields.
A statistic from Salary.com says that a renewable energy engineer with a bachelor’s degree can earn up to $78,569 per year. These figures depend on the company, the state, your years of service, and your work experience.
One of the most significant advantages of taking an academic path is that you have more options after receiving your bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree and a doctoral degree are the two highest academic levels you can achieve.
These degrees increase your chances of finding a job and achieving higher salaries. According to Salary.com, an energy engineer with a doctoral degree earns up to $82,000 per year.
Energy Engineering Courses
Standalone courses in energy engineering do not guarantee professional certification, nor do they guarantee a job.
However, an advantage of these programs is that they are a great way to pursue continuing education. You can access vast amounts of content, learn more about new developments in the industry, improve your knowledge of technical concepts, and increase other soft skills
How to Become an Energy Engineer A Step-by-Step Guide
There is no perfect procedure for becoming an energy engineer. However, you can take into account the requirements and experiences of professionals in the industry. If you analyze their steps, you will get insight into the best options for this career path.
Pay attention to the five steps below to become an energy engineer.
Evaluate the field
Looking at the local context is the best way to start this career. Remember that salaries and job outlooks are not the same in all locations. Before you begin studying, consider the companies in your city, the cost of college tuition, and the job benefits.
Enroll in a college or university
Education is a crucial piece of the professional puzzle. Remember, you can go to a community college and get an associate degree, but most job openings in energy engineering require a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Get a license
Some states and companies require professional certification for the job. These licenses are signed and endorsed by the national or federal government, or by private organizations. Most licenses consist of practical exams, so get licensed soon after graduation to take advantage of your new knowledge.
Look for work
After receiving the proper certifications, the next task is to look for a job. Your first role will be as an assistant to the senior engineers.
Improve your resume
One of the ways to have a successful career is to improve your skills. For this, you can take standalone courses, read research papers, work on your own innovative projects, or pursue a master’s or doctoral degree.
Key Energy Engineer Skills
A professional in this career must be prepared for anything. The skills of an energy engineer can change depending on the company, their experience, and the type of project. It is important to be aware of the most in-demand skills for energy engineers.
Energy engineering involves the heavy use of mathematics, physics, and statistics. All companies will require that you understand the technology for improving energy, renewable or sustainable energy methods, green building, and more.
If you find employment as an energy manager, you will have to work with software such as EnergySoft, EnergyPro, and Trane System Analyzer. In addition, you must know how to use calculation programs such as Excel and design platforms such as CAD.
Another essential skill in this career is managing finances. As an engineer, you must create energy efficiency and energy-saving plans, budgets for installing energy systems, and energy audits.
Energy Engineer Salary and Job Outlook
A PayScale report says that an energy engineer has an average salary of about $72,000, although a percentage of these workers can earn close to $96,000 per year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of environmental engineering jobs is set to increase by three percent by 2029.
Entry-Level Energy Engineer Job Requirements
An entry-level energy engineer needs one to two years of experience as an intern or employee of a company, state-mandated certifications, a bachelor’s degree, as well as fluency in English, and design software skills.
What Does an Energy Engineer Do?
The tasks of an energy engineer are more complicated than you might expect. Your daily routine will depend on the project you’re working on or the company you work for. Although most jobs require the use of some prior knowledge, it does not mean that you have to use all of your theoretical and practical knowledge for every task.
Below are the most common daily tasks of an energy engineer.
Creates Power Plans
You will use your planning, calculation, and design skills to create optimal plans according to the project’s requirements. Before making these sketches, you will attend team meetings with managers, electrical engineers, and other specialists.
Monitors Energy Usage
Monitoring and analyzing energy usage during any given project is essential to the project’s success. You act as an energy auditor to verify that the figures on the plan coincide with the project’s results.
Reports Issues and Makes Repairs
In addition to analyzing and monitoring energy consumption, you must use your technical knowledge to report breakdowns, record project results, detect failures, and make any necessary repairs.
Energy Engineer Certifications
You should know that state laws and many companies require special licenses to work as energy engineers. These certifications are tests to assess your knowledge and skills in this field.
Usually, a license does not expire. Before starting the licensing process, however, you should know what you’re getting into. Make sure to read up on the costs, requirements, and renewal process for any certification you’re thinking about applying for.
Below are the three most popular energy engineer certifications today.
Association of Energy Engineers (AEE)
The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) is a credentialing organization that offers online programs to educate people about clean energy practices and the effects of climate change.
This association offers credentials for energy managers, water efficiency professionals, energy auditors, lighting efficiency professionals, and others.
Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
A Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) license is valid only for energy engineers working as auditors. To earn your certification, you must prove your knowledge of residential energy, service improvements, and local energy savings.
Building Performance Institute (BPI)
At the Building Performance Institute (BPI), you can receive a Building Science Principles (BSP) Certificate. This BPI license is conferred after you pass technical tests demonstrating your knowledge of energy and planning.
According to the BPI website, the exam costs approximately $317. If you fail the test, you have to pay $99 to repeat it.
How to Prepare for Your Energy Engineer Job Interview
To get a job, you have to ace the job interview. In some careers, the questions asked in a job interview are not as important as practical skills. However, you must be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your career goals.
Below you will see the four most frequently asked questions during an energy engineer job interview.
Energy Engineer Job Interview Practice Questions
- Why did you choose this company to work for?
- Why is energy an essential part of combating climate change?
- What is your experience as an energy engineer?
- Do you have an example of a proposal for creating clean and safe energy?
How Long Does It Take to Become an Energy Engineer?
The time it takes depends entirely on you. Your performance and motivation are what can lead you to a successful career.
But, if you take the traditional path, a bachelor’s degree will take between four and five years to complete, and all the required licenses will take an additional three to twelve months.
If you want to improve your knowledge before looking for a job, consider pursuing a master’s degree. This requires approximately three years of study. If you choose to continue your education, a doctoral degree takes four or six years, depending on the field.
Depending on your educational choices, becoming an energy engineer will take between five and ten years.
Should You Become an Energy Engineer in 2021?
Yes. Technological developments and the declining reliance on oil and gas help the prospects for this career. An energy engineer helps create safer, more efficient, and more ecologically sustainable energy systems for the world.
Another reason to become an energy engineer is that you can study from home. Many online colleges have e-learning platforms that successfully teach thousands of students every day. Take advantage of available resources and start down this career path today.
Energy Engineer FAQ
How much is tuition for a Bachelor's Degree in Energy Engineering?
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average four-year institution charges $16,647 per year for tuition and fees. Four years is the standard time of completion for a bachelor’s degree.
Is it dangerous to work as an energy engineer?
Thanks to technological advances, most field jobs are safer than ever before. It is essential to comply with security protocols and invest in quality equipment and infrastructure to ensure your own safety and the safety of others.
Where does an energy engineer work?
Companies hire energy engineers to plan, install, and monitor local energy systems. An energy engineer, therefore, works in many places. In the solar or wind energy industries, they typically work in offices.
Why hire an energy engineer?
Most companies hire energy engineers to ensure more efficient and cleaner equipment installations. Typically, these engineers design, develop and implement architectural plans. They also supervise and monitor energy-efficient equipment for a company.
These experts are trained to evaluate energy consumption, detect hot spots, verify energy service budgets, among other tasks.