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Is Energy a Good Career Path?

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Is energy a good career path? It’s definitely one that permeates our lives more than we may know — from the water we drink and the heater we turn on in the winter to the gas we use to fuel our cars. Energy professionals are responsible for creating, operating, and maintaining these systems. 

The sector is innovative and dedicated to creating a more sustainable future, with career opportunities across multiple functions. So, what are jobs in energy like? What opportunities are there for entry-level candidates? Is energy a good career path for you? 

What Is the Energy Sector?

The energy sector encompasses everything we do or make to power our world. Specifically, energy jobs work on energy infrastructure. Energy infrastructure is every system we use to get energy, including gas, water, sewer pipelines, electric and power lines, and power plants. Those working in the energy sector will work on these systems’ construction, operation, use, or maintenance.

Renewable Energy vs. Non-Renewable Energy

The energy sector has two main parts: renewable energy and non-renewable energy.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are used or consumed — meaning they are sustainable sources. This type of energy is typically considered green or environmentally friendly as creating this energy creates far lower emissions than non-renewable energy.

>>MORE: Looking to work for sustainable companies? Learn the top companies to work for in the environmental space.

Examples of renewable energy include:

  • Solar: energy from the sun
  • Wind: energy from the moving air 
  • Geothermal: thermal energy from the Earth’s interior
  • Hydropower: energy from water moving from higher to lower elevations
  • Ocean: kinetic and thermal energy from seawater
  • Biomass: burning organic materials like wood or charcoal

It’s important to note that while renewable energy is a sustainable resource, the process of extracting this energy isn’t always environmentally friendly. For example, the infrastructure for hydropower can have adverse impacts on the environment. 

Financing Renewable Energy Projects

Research the challenges in financing and developing a renewable energy project, then provide advice to a client on potential actions.

Avg. Time: 6-7 hours

Skills you’ll build: Analytical thinking, attention to detail, commercial awareness, issue spotting, communication

Non-Renewable Energy

Non-renewable energy is energy that comes from sources that take many, many years to form — and are not replenished faster than they’re used. This means that these sources will eventually run out. Examples of non-renewable energy include:

  • Coal
  • Petroleum
  • Natural gas
  • Nuclear energy

These resources are relatively inexpensive to extract and can be shipped all over the world. However, using these resources is not environmentally friendly; for example, burning coal releases pollutants into the air. 

Is Energy a Good Career Path for the Future?

Yes, energy is a good career path for the future — the industry is growing faster than the average job rate, with growth in both renewable and non-renewable energy fields. 

Historically, energy has been one of the U.S.’s fastest-growing industries. While growth in this career path slowed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy sector has picked up again and grew nearly 4% from 2021 to 2022, higher than the overall U.S. employment growth of 3.1%. As of 2022, the sector has recovered over 70% of jobs that were lost in 2020, with employment increasing among all major technology areas.

There was particularly drastic growth in renewable energy technology fields. The energy industry with the highest increase in jobs from 2021 to 2022 was the battery electric vehicle industry. The 27% growth was almost 17 times faster than employment growth in gasoline and diesel vehicle employment. Other technologies with significant employment growth were hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (25%) and offshore wind (20%).

BCG logo on building

Climate & Sustainability

Help a hypothetical client, Fast Cars, with achieving net-zero emissions. Assess the costs, benefits, and risks of carbon reduction initiatives and research strategies to reduce Scope 3 emissions.

Avg. Time: 3-4 hours

Skills you’ll build: Data interpretation, emissions categorization, industry research, data analysis, risk identification

Types of Energy Careers

While all energy jobs are about powering the systems we use today, jobs in energy span multiple types of careers, from more skilled trades and engineering to sales and law

Engineering Careers

Engineering careers in energy are all about problem-solving to design, develop, test, and improve energy systems. For example, engineers in this career path might work on creating new power plants, finding ways to use cleaner fuels, or improving energy efficiency in different buildings. 

Job titles of engineering careers in energy include:

  • Electrical engineer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Industrial engineer
GE Aerospace

Explore Electrical Engineering

Help design and troubleshoot avionics systems as a part of the GE Aerospace team.

Avg. Time: 3-4 hours

Skills you’ll build: Electrical system design, technical documentation, avionics systems analysis, systematic problem-solving

Scientific Careers

Scientific careers in energy apply scientific knowledge in disciplines like chemistry, physics, and biology to develop and improve energy technology. For example, a chemist might work on developing cleaner fuels and more efficient ways to burn them, or a geologist might work on how to find and extract fossil fuels in more environmentally friendly ways.

Job titles of scientific careers in energy include:

  • Chemist
  • Material scientist
  • Physicist 
  • Geologist
  • Environmental scientist
  • Biologist 

Installation and Repair Careers

Installation and repair careers in energy are professionals who do the tangible work of implementing energy equipment. These jobs focus on building, installing, and fixing equipment like anything from solar panels to wind turbines.

Job titles for installation and repair careers include:

  • Electrician
  • HVAC installer
  • Industrial machinery mechanic
  • Pipelayer
  • Plumber
  • Power line worker
  • Solar panel installer

Production Careers

Production careers in energy are focused on operating and maintaining facilities that deliver or create energy, such as a power plant, oil refinery, or wind farm. These are often highly technical roles that involve a combination of the work of operators and technicians. 

Job titles for production careers in energy include:

  • Chemical equipment operator 
  • Gas plant operator 
  • Oil rig worker
  • Power plant operator
  • Welder
  • Wind turbine technician

Guide a client through negotiations with a proposed operation and maintenance provider for a major offshore wind farm project.

Avg. Time: 1-2 hours

Skills you’ll build: Negotiation, legal drafting, elevator pitch, networking

Sales Careers

Sales careers in energy focus on working with individuals and businesses to offer energy solutions for their properties. For example, an energy sales representative working for a solar panel company would help individuals figure out how solar power could work for their home, and sell them solar panels from their company. 

Job titles for sales careers in energy include:

  • Business development manager
  • Energy sales consultant
  • Energy sales representative
  • Solar sales consultant 

Legal Careers

Energy production and use is all regulated by different laws, meaning there’s a need for lawyers who specialize in this type of law. These lawyers may ensure that companies comply with different regulations, help navigate legal issues related to energy projects, or review energy-related contracts.

Job titles for legal careers in energy include:

  • Environmental attorney
  • Energy attorney
  • Energy regulatory lawyer
  • In-house counsel, renewable energy
  • Oil and gas attorney

Climate Change

Research new climate-related laws that could impact clients, then advise them on how to approach climate change risks and challenges.

Avg. Time: 5-6 hours

Skills you’ll build: Research, analysis, strategy, client communication, contract review, identifying legal issues

Entry-Level Jobs in Energy

Entry-level jobs in this sector are similar to the most common types of energy roles, just typically junior versions of the more advanced positions. Some entry-level positions will be more administrative or operational than their senior counterparts.

For example, an entry-level professional analyst working in renewable energy might focus on collecting data about energy use. The senior-level professional would then use this data to decide where to invest their company’s efforts. Both professionals work with energy data, but the entry-level role is more functional and requires more junior data collection and analysis skills. At the same time, the senior level is focused on market trends and strategy.

>>MORE: Improve your data analytics skills with Forage’s free tech job simulations.

Entry-level job titles in energy include:

  • Wind turbine technician
  • Junior electrical engineer
  • Maintenance technician
  • Solar energy consultant
  • Energy market analyst
  • Research technician
  • Associate chemist

What Do Energy Jobs Pay?

On average, wages for energy jobs are 34% higher than the median wages in the U.S.

Energy professionals are also more likely to be unionized, which can increase wages. According to the United States Energy and Employment 2023 Report, 11% of energy workers are represented by unions, collective bargaining agreements, or project labor agreements. 

However, average pay varies greatly depending on what kind of energy work you do. For example, an electrical engineer earns an average salary of $114,050 a year, while a welder earns an average of $50,460 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

10 Best-Paying Jobs in Energy

The best-paying jobs in energy are typically those that involve engineering, science, or high-level operations. However, these jobs also require more advanced degrees and technical skills.

Some of the best-paying jobs in energy, according to the BLS, are:

RoleAverage SalaryJob outlook
Architectural/engineer manager$163,3104% (as fast as average)
Petroleum engineer$142,8002% (as fast as average)
Aerospace engineer$127,0906% (faster than average)
Chemical engineer$117,8208% (faster than average)
Geoscientist$104,5605% (faster than average)
Mechanical engineer$100,82010% (much faster than average)
Nuclear technician$97,040-1% (little or no change
Atmospheric and space scientist$93,6104% (as fast as average)
Chemists$90,5306% (faster than average)
Power plant operator$88,960-10% (decline)

How to Get a Job in Energy

Getting a job in energy requires narrowing down your focus, getting the proper training, and connecting with individuals in the field. 

Narrow Your Focus

With so many different aspects of the energy field — from engineering to installation — the best first step is to consider what type of role you want to pursue in the energy field. 

To understand what area you might want to focus on, get granular about your interests and strengths. For example, are you interested in renewable energy? Do your strengths lie in math and science? Are you more process-oriented? 

Develop the Right Skill Set

Many jobs in the energy career path require specific skill sets, especially if you’re taking on technical roles in engineering, science, installation, or production. Once you’ve narrowed your focus, you can start to work on the technical skills you’ll need to land these roles.

For example, if you’re interested in engineering, you might decide to major in this area to build skills like programming, manufacturing, quality control, and design.

A group of people consulting

OliverWyman Financial Services: Climate Change

Understand how modern financial risk management combined with climate science can facilitate a smooth transition to a low-carbon economy in this free job simulation.

Avg. Time: 4 to 5 hours

Skills you’ll build: Research, critical thinking, data analysis, communication

Connect With Individuals in the Field

If you’re interested in getting into the field, Christin Sun, deputy energy efficiency portfolio manager at MD Energy Advisors, recommends getting exposure to the industry first. While internships are a more traditional path to the field, “students can also look into various volunteer programs with their local utilities or utility partners as a way to network with business professionals in the space,” she says.

Matt Chester, energy analyst, founder of Chester Energy and Policy, and Forage content consultant, highly encourages connecting with professionals in the sector to help get you started.

“We are all so passionate about energy and creating a brighter future with it that you’ll hear more yes’s than not to get on a call to meet, network, provide advice, and more,” he says.

>>MORE: What Companies Are in the Energy Field in 2024?

Pros and Cons of Energy Careers

An energy career can take you in many different directions, but there are common pros and cons that can help you answer, “is energy a good career path for me?”


Helping Build a Sustainable Future

Many professionals in the energy industry are working toward cleaner, more sustainable energy solutions. 

“That shared goal means we’re all working collaboratively towards these solutions and a brighter future, and that environment makes it really motivating to work alongside so many brilliant and passionate people as colleagues rather than a zero sum game that feels like a competition,” Chester says.


Not only does energy impact the environment, but the sector is “truly at the heart of our economy, our culture, and our communities,” says Rebecca Foster, CEO of VEIC, a nonprofit organization focusing on energy efficiency and renewable energy. 

Energy touches nearly every aspect of our lives, “from an anchor employer’s ability to stay competitive and keep providing jobs in small, rural towns to an urban school district’s ability to improve indoor air quality and lower asthma rates by adopting efficient classroom ventilation systems and electric school buses,” Foster says. “Making our buildings and transportation options more efficient saves people money, improves air quality, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and helps keep local businesses competitive.”

Developing Industry

With more developments in clean energy technologies and solutions, there’s always an opportunity to work on something new and challenge tradition.

“Innovation is critical to the success of the energy sector,” Sun says. “It can be challenging for organizations to adopt new technologies, but the rising cost of energy shines a spotlight on new ways to reduce waste and be more efficient.”

Low Barrier to Entry

While specific jobs in the energy field require special education, there’s no specific degree — or a degree at all — you need to break into the industry.

“Scaling up clean energy takes all disciplines and fields of study, from marketing to computer science to business to history,” Foster says. “I have a B.A. in Psychology and an MBA and those degrees have been excellent preparation for my work leading VEIC. But if college isn’t for you, we also have programs for those wanting to learn a trade. There is a place for all types of skills in this field.”


Workplace Risk

Depending on your role in energy, there can be some risk when it comes to on-site work. For example, jobs in construction and operations come with more dangerous working conditions, especially when dealing with electricity and heavy machinery. 

Developing Industry

While this is also a pro because of the exciting new career opportunities it can bring, staying updated on the industry as it develops can be time-consuming and even stressful.

“It can be challenging to keep up with rapidly changing regulations and technologies, which requires continual professional development,” says Ryan Collier, renewable heating expert and company director of Heat Pump Source, an air source and ground source heat pump company.

“There’s no such thing as being ‘done’ learning,” Chester says. “Be sure to constantly read, listen, and study to stay on top of trends, needs, and more.”

Explore other popular career paths:

Image credit: Kindel Media / Pexels

Zoe Kaplan is a Senior Writer at Forage. Prior to joining Forage, she wrote and edited career and workplace content for Fairygodboss, the largest career community for women.

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