by Kate Aitchison
The biofuel production and wind power industries have both experienced a lot of growth in the state in recent years. Both are expected to help lead the way to Minnesota’s greener and more renewable energy future. What are the employment opportunities in these industries? Do you have what employers are looking for? This two-part series by Labor Market Analyst Kate Aitchison explores results from Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED’s) semi-annual Job Vacancy Survey and provides ideas on how you can move into these fields. Today’s installment takes an in-depth looks at jobs in the biofuels industry. Next week’s will offer insights on jobs in the wind energy production industry.
Part 1: Biofuels
What are the jobs like?
Biofuels refer to transportation fuels made from organic materials. The most common biofuel is ethanol, a fuel usually made from corn. Biodiesel is the other main biofuel, and it is typically made from soybeans or other natural oils.
Jobs in these types of plants are similar to those in other manufacturing settings, with the majority of people working in production facilities. Minnesota has 21 ethanol plants and 5 plants that make biodiesel. These 26 locations had an average of 18 job openings when they were surveyed over the past two years. Most of the people working in this field were offered wages between $49,000 and $55,000 per year.
What kind of jobs are employers hoping to fill?
According to DEED’s Job Vacancy Survey results:
- About half of the reported openings were for production jobs, like a plant operator or production worker.
- Twenty-one percent were for maintenance positions.
- The remaining 29 percent were for positions in management, transportation, engineering, and other fields within the plants.
What education and skills are employers looking for?
Over half of the job openings that employers reported required at least a high school education. Ten percent required a four-year degree, while 23 percent required some post-secondary training.
Only a third of the positions required people to have specific work experience related to the open position, whereas over half of the job postings would accept applicants with general, or even no, work experience on their resume.
Would I be a good fit?
While over half of the positions require only a high school education, and many do not require specific work experience, the more you know about the field–and the more relevant your background or training is–the better fit you’ll be. Having experience or a background in mechanics, a technical education, or chemistry could help you better understand how a biofuel plant works and operates. Being able to troubleshoot problems, understand how equipment works, and work with others may also help you qualify for production or maintenance positions.
Read Part 2 of this series to learn more about jobs in the wind power industry.