by Shirley Fenlason
As Teri mentioned in an earlier post, renewable energy growth is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). I read The Pew Charitable Trusts' recently-released report on "The Clean Energy Economy" and found some encouraging job-related information. It found that from 1997 to 2007, the clean energy job national growth rate was 9.1%, compared to a total job growth rate of 3.7%. According to Pew, "the clean energy economy is poised for explosive growth." Clean energy refers to energy from sources that are environmentally friendly, like wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal.
So what are clean energy occupations?
Per the Pew report, they can be found anywhere from energy generation, transmission, storage, and efficiency to transportation and manufacturing. And they include electricians, plumbers, solar and wind system installers, electrical and mechanical engineers, lab technicians, wind turbine service technicians, energy auditors, power plant operations technicians, computer systems analysts, and many more.
I checked to see what training programs/degrees/certificates were offered in Minnesota colleges and universities. They run the gamut from short-term training programs to 4-year degrees. In no particular order, here's a sampling of what I found using the Program Search Tool on ISEEK.org.
- Minnesota West Community and Technical College: 16-credit certificate in Windsmith
- Minnesota West Community and Technical College: 32-credit diploma in Wind Energy Mechanic
- Hibbing Community College: 25-credit certificate in Solar Photovoltaic Installer
- Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College: 22-credit certificate in Clean Energy Technology
- University of Minnesota-Twin Cities: B.S. in Bio-Based Products
If you're interested in a clean energy career, it looks like you'll have several training options, with more likely to be developed.