Wind technicians paid $ 27 an hour, one of the fastest growing jobs
- Wind turbine technicians are the workers who maintain the tops of towering wind farms.
- The median wage is $ 27 an hour and most jobs don’t require a four-year degree.
- Employment is expected to increase by 68% from 2020 to 2030, which is significantly faster than in other sectors.
There are more than 65,000 onshore wind turbines in the United States, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with more coming online each year.
Each of the wind turbines that dot the landscape of a wind farm usually consists of a tower, blades, and a central unit called a nacelle. These three elements require specialists to install and maintain them throughout the life of a turbine.
These are the nacelles that have the most activity, as these are the generator housing, gearbox, brakes and circuits that convert mechanical energy into electricity to be sent to the power grid.
To make repairs, wind technicians typically have to climb up to 300 feet up the narrow tower tube to the nacelle while carrying all the tools, computers, and safety gear needed to get the job done. While some tasks require climbing outside the basket, most of the routine work is performed inside the enclosure.
Other crews are used to inspect, repair or clean the fiberglass blades, which requires workers to rappelling down from the pod to complete the job while swinging hundreds of feet above the ground.
The median salary for wind technicians is $ 27 an hour, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, which works out to about $ 56,000 per year, or about 33% more than the national median salary of $ 42,000. .
A community college or technical degree is usually sufficient to qualify for the job, and many employers offer a year or more of on-the-job training. Most technicians will need to understand electrical, hydraulic, braking, mechanical and computer systems, as well as have first aid and rescue training.
With 6,900 workers in 2020, the field is small but one of the fastest growing in the entire economy, with BLS projections expecting a 68% increase in new jobs by 2030. That’s close to nine times faster than the projection for all other professions tracked by the agency.
Beyond claustrophobia and acrophobia, there are things that can deter someone from running for a wind job.
On the one hand, the schedule can be exhausting. Most wind farms are located in remote areas, so travel times to job sites can be very time consuming. In addition, bad weather or other unforeseeable events can damage a turbine at any time of the day or night, and repairs should be done as quickly as possible.
More importantly, the Department of Labor says wind technicians have one of the highest rates of injury and illness of any occupation. In particular, a 2017 study found that falls in the energy industry are quite common (although a few are fatal), as are strains, sprains, and overuse.
As the world shifts from carbon to renewable energy sources, it will increasingly rely on workers like wind technicians to perform the high-risk jobs that drive the modern economy forward.
If you are a wind technician or a worker who has a job that you consider to be high risk, please contact Dominick Reuter by email. The answers to this story will be kept confidential.