Article summary: Like any career, jobs in energy efficiency need both hard and soft skills, and the qualifications vary depending on the position. But there’s a few skills that will come in handy for any role in the energy sector, including engineering, manufacturing, and construction. Read on to learn what they are!
All jobs require a combination of hard skills and soft skills, and work in the energy industry is no different. Depending on the job you’re aiming for, you may need a postgraduate degree, or industry certification. Other positions may require manufacturing, construction, or trades knowledge. In fact, the majority of energy efficiency jobs in both the U.S. and Canada are in construction. There’s a great variety of careers in energy efficiency and these are some key skills that are common to many employment pathways in this sector.
Enterprising and Flexible
A role in energy efficiency will require you to be willing to try new ideas or methods. Embracing new technology will be important as new products and processes are developed and enter the market. You should be able to look for solutions and identify potential opportunities for improvements.
Flexibility is equally important, as the world economy and workplace continues to change due to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. You may find yourself working outside of regular working hours, or adapting to new regulations and changes. You might work in an office, in a factory, or in the field, or a combination of work spaces. Preparing for and embracing unpredictability is a skill that will give you an advantage in any field.
As the world’s climate crisis reaches a tipping point, it is becoming more and more urgent that different disciplines collaborate and share information with each other to mitigate global warming and the environmental effects of humans on the planet. Your role may involve collaborating with people at a global, regional, national, or local scale. They might be clients, government organisations, regulatory groups, legislators, developers, or local councils. In many cases, you’ll be working with a team, and each member brings different skills to the table to get the job done. It’s important to work with others in a productive way and ensure you have the same goals.
Understand Energy Use
Getting started in a career in energy efficiency will require you to understand energy use. This might include the jargon that is used to talk about it; what types of materials and methods are used; the impact of different processes on energy efficiency; even understanding how buildings are built and where heat loss might occur. In a management role, you may also be required to understand the broader energy market in your region, including use of renewable energy, legislation, and government initiatives on energy consumption.
Ethical and Social Responsibility
In your work in energy efficiency, you’ll need to be aware of the intersection of financial costs and environmental concerns. Going green no longer needs to cost a company money; in fact, energy efficiency will often help a business reduce their operating costs as well as their environmental impact. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming a permanent fixture in businesses. CSR is a self-regulatory internal policy that commits a business to “doing good” by either donating to charities or causes, supporting ethical practices, or moving towards sustainability. A CSR policy can boost a company’s profile as well as reduce costs, and energy efficiency is the most cost effective way of making an impact immediately.
Numeracy and Data
Working in energy efficiency often means a lot of number crunching. In your role, you’ll be gathering and monitoring data, maintaining accurate records, producing specifications and estimates, and analysing opportunities in the figures. You may be measuring heat loss, estimating energy supply and consumption, assessing materials for construction, or calculating the all-important dollar figure of how much money can be saved by switching to more efficient products and processes. Being numerate is definitely an advantage in a career in energy efficiency.
You’ll need to know how to communicate ideas and concepts to people that may not have the same technical knowledge as you. Being able to convey information is critical to getting decision-makers on your side when it comes to making changes and moving towards energy efficiency processes. You’ll need to be confident in your abilities and be able to stand up to interrogation when someone questions your work. Being able to confidently respond and back up your opinions will also make you look trustworthy and reliable, bringing further credibility to your position.
Accreditation and Training
Many roles require some kind of accreditation or certification. Some positions, like energy engineers, will require tertiary qualifications, while other roles might need industry licences or hands-on experience. If you are not sure what skills you require for a particular role, have a look for some recent job descriptions on online employment websites like Seek, Glassdoor, or Indeed. Some jobs will also provide training after you are employed, but make sure you’re aware of what industry regulation there is regarding the job you’re looking for so that you can be prepared.
If working in retrofit energy efficiency, consider becoming certified by Sustemy in Energy Auditing. This is a new certification – unique in its emphasis not only on technical ability but also in soft skills, and with a syllabus that has a strong focus on practical skills.
These are just some of the skills you need to work in energy efficiency. The energy industry employs a huge amount of people in a variety of roles. As the energy sector continues to grow, both in renewables and in energy efficiency, there will be many opportunities for you to find a role that best fits your skills.