Smart grid jobs: So you really want to work in the electric power industry?

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By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor

 

With utility crews in the spotlight working both the front lines and behind the scenes to restore power to millions after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, we thought it was a good time for another look at smart grid, utility and related clean energy careers.

 

You don't have to look much further than Twitter (search #smartgrid jobs) to see the range of opportunities focused on the smart grid at both electric utilities and with vendors. Just a sample from the last few days:

·         Lead analyst smart grid cybersecurity compliance in Augusta, Maine

·         A smart grid test analyst in St. Petersburg, Florida

·         A project manager, smart grid applications in New Brunswick, Canada

·         Senior engineer, EMS operations in Hartford, Connecticut

 

Those jobs obviously require some pretty advanced skill sets, which according to a Zpryme hiring trends analysis published in August, makes folks who can meet the stringent standards "a coveted group of highly sought-after hires."

 

So what about job prospects for those interested in joining the heroic bucket brigade – the line repair crews that right now are working extremely long hours in hazardous conditions to restore electricity to millions left in the dark due to Sandy?

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for job growth for line installers and repairers is expected to be 13% between 2010 and 2020. In May 2010, median annual wages were $58,030 for electrical power-line installers and repairers – and the entry-level education requirement was a high school education or equivalent. Long-term on-the-job training should be expected.

 

In our Day in the Life series last year, Louis Szablya of SAIC explained how the deployment of smart grid technologies will enhance the safety, efficiency and flexibility of a lineman's daily job.

 

Clean energy growth areas

CleanEdison, a national training provider, researches where job growth is anticipated so it knows where to invest in curriculum and where demand for training will be. In a blog and chart highlighting its latest research from the Brookings Institute and Bureau of Labor Statistics, CleanEdison determined that "among the growing green job positions, jobs in HVAC, solar, geothermal and smart grid have the highest projected growth rate in the next decade."

 

On the other hand, the folks at Riverland Community College may wonder why wind energy jobs don't rank higher on the CleanEdison chart. According to a report in the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minnesota,, since the community college created its two-year wind turbine technician program in 2009, all 104 of its graduates quickly found jobs – and with starting salaries as high as $52,000. The 26 members of its 2012 graduating class reportedly had job offers from as far away as Oklahoma, Texas and California.

 

Do you have career tips for those looking at getting into the electric power industry? Use the Comment form below to share.

 

More on smart grid jobs…

Smart grid equals higher growth, new study reveals

Signs of progress in smart grid workforce training

Smart grid careers: New year, new opportunities