As an energy engineer you would be involved in the research, design and construction of power generation plants that use renewable and sustainable natural resources like water, wind and solar. You could also be involved in drilling for gas and oil. If you are interested in science and technology and would love to work in the environment, there could be opportunities for you in this job. You’ll be using your great organisational skills to manage projects and budgets. You’ll also be using your problem solving skills to fix technical issues.
Most employers will expect you to have a degree in engineering or a related science subject. Some employers may want you to have, or be working towards, a related postgraduate qualification.
As an engineer involved in energy production, as well working on gas and oil extraction, you would work on producing energy from renewable or sustainable sources like:
- hydro – water
- solar – sunlight
- biomass – plants or plant materials
- wind power.
Your day-to-day tasks would depend on the type of project you were involved in, but might include:
- using mathematical and computer models to research and design new generating sites
- deciding on the best locations for installations like wind farms, solar panels or hydropower plants
- planning and overseeing a production programme for sites like drilling platforms or hydroelectric plants
- managing and coordinating teams of technicians or site workers
- designing and selecting equipment needed at site
- making sure site operation meets environmental standards such as carbon reduction targets
- analysing and improving site cost and efficiency
- assessing and reviewing new and current processes to find the most productive
- carrying out laboratory experiments and converting them into large-scale industrial processes.
You would also work with other professionals such as geologists, geophysicists and specialist contractors.
- an interest in science, technology and the environment
- problem-solving ability
- good planning and organisational skills
- excellent mathematical and computer skills
- the ability to manage projects, budgets and people
- good communication and teamworking skills
- knowledge of electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering.
Average salary (2014):
United Kingdom: Starting salaries are between £20,000 and £30,000 a year.
Qualifications and training required:
To become an energy engineer, you will need a degree in an engineering or a scientific subject. Some employers may also expect you to have a relevant postgraduate qualification. Relevant subjects could include:
- mining or petroleum engineering
- environmental technology
- energy engineering
- earth sciences
- environmental engineering
- renewable or sustainable energy
- electrical engineering
- chemical engineering.
To get onto a relevant degree you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C), and at least three A levels including maths and a science. Some universities offer a foundation year for people without qualifications in maths and science. You should check exact entry requirements with course providers as other qualifications may be accepted.
You may need a postgraduate qualification for senior and research posts in a subject that is related to the area of energy engineering you wish to work in. For example, an MSc in renewable energy engineering.
Foreign language skills can be helpful if you wish to work for an international company.
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