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The clean energy workforce relies heavily on university graduates. A high proportion have post-graduate qualifications as well.

Career guide image 13

What should I study?

Renewable energy – and its industry – are an application of many forms of fundamental knowledge. As such, many disciplines and fields of study can lead to a career in clean energy. The lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) qualified people in Australia, and engineers more specifically, implies that any STEM graduate will be well-placed in the Australian job market over the next decade. However, expertise and experience in legislation, finance, management, safety, planning and logistics are also needed.

The following table shows some examples of professional roles in clean energy and the degrees held by people in these roles (data from LinkedIn and information collected from Clean Energy Council member organisations).

Types of roles in clean energyDegree studied of those currently in the roles
Asset managerEngineering, Business, Project Management
Bid and proposals managerEngineering, Business, Construction Management, Project Management
Business development managerEngineering, Commerce, Economics, Marketing
Civil design engineerEngineering
Civil engineeringEngineering
Commercial operationsEngineering, Business, Project Management
Community liaison managerBusiness, Marketing, Psychology, Communications, Public Relations, Stakeholder Engagement
Contract managerEngineering, Law, Business, Accounting, Project Management
Development managerEngineering, Finance, Environmental studies, Project Management
Electrical engineerEngineering
Electrical superintendentEngineering
Environmental plannerEnvironmental studies
Project managerEngineering, Project Management
PV design engineerEngineering
Quality managerEngineering, Safety studies
Reliability engineerEngineering
Sales managerEngineering, Maths, Finance, Commerce, Economics, Business, Marketing, Accounting
Site administratorCommerce, Economics, Business, Accounting
Systems modellerEngineering, Maths
Talent acquisitionBusiness, Human Resources Management

Degrees in engineering, business and project management are the most versatile across the industry. The type of engineering degree is less important. There are as many people with mechanical or civil engineering degrees employed as electrical engineers in renewable energy as there are people with electrical engineering degrees. There are also many non-engineering roles filled by engineering graduates.

Where should I study?

Many Australian universities offer Masters programs that are focussed on sustainable energy. These qualifications are often aimed at, or attended by, engineering graduates, but can provide a solid foundation in the industry to people of many academic backgrounds, including policy, business and law.

It is not necessary to undertake a Masters degree in renewable energy to work in renewable energy, particularly at the entry level. Every Australian state hosts high-quality universities that offer undergraduate degrees suited to employment in clean energy. The best place to start asking questions is with the Careers office of the university.

Graduates from disciplines or specialities that are non-energy-specific should not exclude themselves from seeking a career in clean energy. These people may simply require some exposure to or training in the sector to contextualise their knowledge to the demands of the industry.