The clean energy workforce relies heavily on university graduates. A high proportion have post-graduate qualifications as well.
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 energy||Degree studied of those currently in the roles|
|Asset manager||Engineering, Business, Project Management|
|Bid and proposals manager||Engineering, Business, Construction Management, Project Management|
|Business development manager||Engineering, Commerce, Economics, Marketing|
|Civil design engineer||Engineering|
|Commercial operations||Engineering, Business, Project Management|
|Community liaison manager||Business, Marketing, Psychology, Communications, Public Relations, Stakeholder Engagement|
|Contract manager||Engineering, Law, Business, Accounting, Project Management|
|Development manager||Engineering, Finance, Environmental studies, Project Management|
|Environmental planner||Environmental studies|
|Project manager||Engineering, Project Management|
|PV design engineer||Engineering|
|Quality manager||Engineering, Safety studies|
|Sales manager||Engineering, Maths, Finance, Commerce, Economics, Business, Marketing, Accounting|
|Site administrator||Commerce, Economics, Business, Accounting|
|Systems modeller||Engineering, Maths|
|Talent acquisition||Business, 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.
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.