Wind energy engineers design and oversee the construction of wind farms. This includes wind collection systems, energy transmission lines and all access roads. Wind energy engineers also research, develop and test all hardware and electrical components. They evaluate existing systems for compliance with industry standards and make recommendations to improve output and efficiency.
Duties and responsibilities
- Create models for optimum layout of wind farm collection systems and supportive infrastructure
- Design electronics, software, electrohydraulic systems and other technical aspects of wind turbines
- Determine specifications for turbine blades, generators, frequency convertors and other components
- Oversee the manufacture of components for compliance with industry standards and regulations
- Evaluate and collaborate on experimental turbine designs
- Research and test turbine prototypes for aerodynamics, production, load and other aspects
- Supervise and conduct compliance checks for wind farm construction and operations
- Investigate established wind farms and recommend improvements to efficiency, production and safety
- Create and maintain wind farm documentation, including data, schematics and farm layouts
- Direct and supervise junior engineers, consultants and subcontractors
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
Overtime work likely
Wind energy engineers typically work full time, with many putting in more than 40 hours per week. Designing, planning and testing take place in an office or laboratory setting. Wind energy engineers who oversee manufacturing spend much of their day in factories.
Planning and overseeing wind farm construction requires working outdoors. You may choose to split time between a home office and onsite visits. Wind energy engineers often travel to other states or internationally.
Factories and construction sites can be hazardous. You will be required to wear protective safety gear and follow all safety procedures.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Bachelor’s degree in energy engineering
A bachelor’s degree in energy engineering or a related subject is required for entry-level wind energy engineering jobs. Alternate degrees include mechanical, civil and environmental engineering. Employers value experience, so look for internship or cooperative education programmes that combine academic studies with work experience.
Higher-level jobs, including those at wind turbine manufacturers, may require advanced degrees. You will also need to be licensed by your state as a Professional Engineer (PE). Requirements include an ABET-accredited degree, four years of experience and passing grades on two exams.
Certification in renewable energy is available from the Association of Energy Engineers. Board certification in environmental engineering is offered by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES).
Internships and cooperative programmes can help you get an early start on earning work experience as a wind energy engineer. As an entry-level engineer, you’ll typically receive substantial on-the-job training from an experienced PE. After four years on the job, you should pursue licensing to qualify for jobs with more responsibility.
Leadership, project management, and research and development usually require an advanced degree. If this is your desired career path, look for accelerated programmes that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. Certification for specialties within wind energy engineering can help you land roles at major companies, utilities and federal government projects.