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How to Start Your Career in Clean Energy

The most important thing to know about working in the clean energy transition is that we need people from every background, every community, every lived experience to make this happen. There’s no one right path to a clean energy job.

So, you’re starting out your career and you’re interested in clean energy. Or maybe you’re looking to switch gears and work towards a good cause. Wherever you are on your career path, the Department of Energy (DOE) wants to talk to you! “Clean energy” refers to forms of energy generation that power our communities without depleting natural resources or emitting harmful pollutants into our atmosphere. We’re going to need all hands on deck — including yours — to transition to clean energy, combat the effects of the climate crisis, and ensure our national security through energy independence.

Working in Energy

As the climate crisis worsens, it’s more important than ever that we strategically transition to energy sources that don’t dump harmful greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. To help speed this transition, Congress passed President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law last year, which invests more than $65 billion in support of clean energy infrastructure, research, jobs, and more. More recently, the CHIPS and Science Act, as well as the new Inflation Reduction Act, have added billions in investments for clean energy jobs and technologies. If there was ever a time to work in clean energy, it’s right now. Regardless of your academic or professional background, there’s a place for everyone in the clean energy future — so let’s get to work!

Feed Your Passions

There are many reasons to work toward a clean energy future. Whether it’s to protect the environment, promote energy justice, secure national energy independence, make scientific advancements, or lower energy costs, take some time to identify which ones speak to you the most. Once you’ve done so, make sure that these motivators stay at the forefront of your mind as you move through your job search. Clean energy is growing fast and is here to stay.

To avoid burning out, make sure the career path you choose is rewarding to you AND meets the needs of your life. Want to hear directly from passionate professionals across the energy industry about what it’s actually like to work towards a clean energy future? Check out the Department of Energy’s People Powered podcast series!

Get to Know Your Choices

Kickstarting a new career path is no easy task, and there are many considerations you’ll need to take into account as you go about deciding on a new role. Would you rather work towards a clean energy future on a national scale or right in your own community? Would you prefer working behind a computer or getting your hands dirty? You can start by deciding whether you’d rather continue to live in the same place or relocate to start your clean energy career, and if you’d like to work completely virtually, on-site, or hybrid. While many clean energy jobs offer a remote work schedule, once you know where you might like to work, you can start looking into what forms of clean energy are generated and used in your area.

Depending on your location, you may have better access to some clean energy sources than others. Between solar power, wind, hydropower, offshore renewables, biomass, geothermal, nuclear, and others, there are more clean energy sources and jobs than ever before. Discovering which of those sources are most accessible and interesting to you is a great place to start when looking for the perfect clean energy job for you.

Find Your Niche

The most important thing to know about working in the clean energy transition is that we need people from every background, every community, every lived experience to make this happen. There’s no one right path to a clean energy job.

An excellent place to start looking for your dream clean energy job is the Department of Energy’s Clean Energy Corps application portal. The Clean Energy Corps is made up of dedicated professionals from more than a dozen offices in the DOE all working to research, develop, and deploy solutions to clean energy challenges. A diverse and talented group, the Clean Energy Corps is looking to recruit people who are committed to energy sustainability and public service. Whether you’ve been working in clean energy your entire career or are just getting started, the DOE wants your help. Fields of particular interest to the Corps include:

  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Engineering
  • Finance/Accounting
  • Grants/Contract Management
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology/Cybersecurity
  • Legal
  • Legislative Affairs
  • Operations Research
  • Physical Science
  • Program and Portfolio Management
  • Project Management
  • Public Policy
  • Safety and Occupational Health

If you don’t see fields that are applicable to you on that list, don’t get discouraged. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to clean energy jobs, and there are plenty of other roles that will need to be filled in our clean energy transition, including roles in:

  • Installation
  • Construction
  • Coalition Building
  • Sales
  • Licensing
  • Maintenance
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing

To find out more about getting hired in these types of roles, we recommend reaching out to clean energy companies and organizations in your area and online. According to the 2022 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, energy jobs grew 4.0% in 2021, outpacing overall U.S. employment which grew 2.8% in the same time period. With that kind of growth, good-paying clean energy jobs are coming to American cities faster than ever before. If you can’t find any clean energy positions that suit you right now, be on the lookout because with the recent passage of landmark clean energy legislation under the Biden Administration they could very well be coming your way soon!

Go for it!

Whatever your background, whatever your motivation, the clean energy transition is happening right now, and we need as many hard-working Americans as possible on Team Clean Energy. Get to know the clean energy jobs available to you, figure out where you can best apply your skills and interests, and start the rewarding clean energy career you deserve today.

This Energy.gov blog post was written by Isabelle Hamilton, an intern in the Office of Public Affairs. To learn more about internship opportunities available at the Department of Energy, please visit our Students and Recent Graduates career page.

Courtesy of Energy.gov

 
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