“Engineer” is something of a catchall term. Engineers solve problems and develop technologies. Some engineering branches include electrical, chemical, environmental, hydrological, mechanical, aerospace, biomedical and biochemical engineering, to name a few.
In the development of renewable energy, engineering usually leans toward the mechanical, electrical and environmental end of the spectrum, especially research and development. Engineering also plays a central role in the initial implementation of new technology (or an old technology for a new purpose), which is a major component of the green-power field.
Engineers design hydroelectric dams, solar cells and wind turbines. They design the systems that carry the electricity from the wind farm, dam or solar field to the power plant. They come up with ways to turn corn into ethanol, sun into hot water, landfill gas into green fuel.
For those who choose an engineering career, endless green-energy applications and specialties exist, making engineering a top job for a broad range of people with various talents and interests. It's a highly adaptable and customizable career path.
It also pays nicely. Engineers pull in an average salary of $66,000, according to the web site Simply Hired. Depending on specialty, that number can be significantly higher. An engineer working on a wind farm can potentially pull in six figures.
Of course, you'll probably be paying off school loans with some of that cash. Engineers have bachelors' degrees at minimum and typically have advanced degrees. Engineering is not a quick-entry renewable-energy career, but it can be long-lasting and versatile one.
Number 4: Another oldie but goodie, just a bit repurposed.