by Rachel Vilsack
You’ve probably heard about smart phones, but do you know about “smart grid” technology? Essentially how we transmit and distribute electricity can be monitored and adjusted so that the distribution of energy can be most efficient. Smart grid technology also promotes the use of renewable energy sources. As utilities continue to evolve, they’ll need workers who understand this smart technology.
A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report (pdf) discusses the growing importance of smart grid technology and the occupations engaged in smart grid work. According to the report, work related to the smart grid is expected to result in about 280,000 new positions nationwide, covering a wide range of occupations. Examples of jobs include:
- Electrical power-line installers and repairers build and maintain the smart grid by installing, inspecting and testing power lines and other equipment. Over 3,000 people work in this occupation in Minnesota, which is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2010 and 2020.
- Electrical engineers design and test the construction of electrical equipment, including power generation and supply. The average wage for electrical engineers in Minnesota is $42.60 per hour.
- Power distributors and dispatchers regulate the flow of electricity. This small, but important, occupation employs 300 people in Minnesota.
- Urban and regional planners will aid local and regional utilities in determining a community’s electricity requirements. Nearly all urban and regional planners in Minnesota work for state or local governments.
- Network and computer systems administrators will work to ensure that smart grid computer systems function and are repaired quickly when problems arise. A bachelor’s degree is required to work as a network and computer systems administrator.
Check out a full list of smart grid careers in the BLS report (pdf) or visit the Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse to learn more.