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Becoming a Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) is not an easy feat. It is best if you have an engineering background, preferably in mechanical or electrical engineering. Additionally, you must have relevant experience in energy-related fieldwork and calculations.

Becoming a certified energy auditor may take a while, depending upon your starting point. However, it’s a path worth taking to a fulfilling and exciting job with great pay. 

This post will discuss several of the details associated with becoming a certified energy auditor.

Become an Energy Auditor Step-by-Step

Before applying as a Certified Energy Auditor, you must meet two eligibility requirements.

First, you must have the proper educational background and relevant experience in energy management. Experience in facility management and energy auditing also counts. 

Second, you must have performed at least five commercial audits over the past three years. Additionally, you must have proof of completing at least two hours of Safety Training.

Here is the list of college degrees and years of experience required to become a CEA.

  • Four-year architectural or engineering degree plus at least three years of relevant experience
  • Four-year unrelated degree plus four years of relevant experience
  • Two years of associate degree plus five years of relevant experience
  • No higher education plus ten years of relevant experience

If you are eligible, you must register to attend a CEA preparatory training seminar which runs over four or five days. Note that for the AEE CEA certification this training seminar must be offered by a training provider approved by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).

After registering for the training seminar, you must also complete the certification application and apply for the CEA exam. This two-hour, multiple-choice test is usually taken on the last day of the seminar and contains at least 100 questions.

Before the open-book exam, bring an unexpired government-issued photo ID and a hand-held calculator.

Infographic of the definition of an energy audit

The CEA exam covers ten different topics:

Content or Subject

1. HVAC and Heating Systems
2. Developing an Audit Strategy and Plan
3. Data Collection and Economic Analysis
4. Utility Analysis, Renewable Opportunities
5. Lighting Systems
6. Motors, Drives, and Compressed Air
7. Ventilation Systems
8. Domestic Hot Water Systems
9. Building Envelope
10. Water Conservation

The passing score for the written exam is 70%. Meanwhile, the second part is a hands-on field test with a time limit of four hours. Candidates are asked to monitor and test different scenarios, such as indoor ambient carbon monoxide levels. 

You must score 82% on the remaining tasks to pass this test.

If you seek an international certification program, you need to reach out to the local training provider in your country.

Where Sustemy Becomes a Part of This Process

Sustainability Education Academy (Sustemy) is one of the leading training providers for aspiring sustainability professionals and energy-efficiency auditors. We offer various online courses to help candidates prepare for certification exams.

Our team of highly-experienced instructors can help you learn new skills and gain knowledge in the sustainability industry.

Sustemy’s online courses are affordable and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You also get micro-credentials for each completed course to foster your career progression.

We also include an assessment and certificate of competency for each course finished. 

How to Get Certified as an Energy Auditor

  1. An energy auditor certification is only issued by legitimate organizations such as the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).
  2. Below are the steps to be taken to become certified as an energy auditor:
  3. Comply with the prerequisites, such as the degrees and relevant experience noted above.
  4. Obtain an application form for Energy Auditor Certification (EAC) from a legitimate institution.
  5. Fill out the application form and gather the supporting documents that verify meeting the prerequisite. You then mail, fax, or email the form to the certifying institution.
  6. Next, you enroll in a training seminar from an affiliate trainer. However, some certifying institutions do not require completion of a training course beforehand.
  7. Take the energy auditor exam; it is a written exam done online or at a testing center. However, you must be present at a test center for the field test.
  8. You need to wait up to five business days for the exam results to be released.
  9. If you pass both exams, the certifying agency sends your certification in less than 30 days.

What Energy Auditors do

Energy auditors review how energy is utilized in residential, commercial, and industrial properties. Their task revolves around identifying areas or equipment where energy waste occurs.

They utilize diagnostic and measurement equipment to gather data within a facility or building. After which they use calculations to quantify their findings. Finally, they offer suggestions for optimizing energy use within the facility.

Because of the hands-on nature of the job, an energy auditor needs to have an energy management skillset. They must be knowledgeable about sub-metering and sampling techniques.

When working as a contractor, you create a plan to improve the energy efficiency of a home or small structure. 

Infographic of the role of an energy auditor

How Much do Energy Auditors Make?

A newly-hired energy auditor usually earns $44,678 to $74,241 per year. If you are about five years into the job, your annual salary can jump from $59,282 to $113,620.

Note that these figures can change based on several factors such as education, certifications, experience, and additional skills.

Some states pay more than others in the United States. For example, the median salary for an energy auditor in California is $91,519, making it the highest paying state in the country.

Actual Energy Auditor Jobs Hiring

According to a 2016 estimate by Career Explorer, the United States currently has 1,023,900 energy auditors. According to a study, the energy auditor job market will likely grow by 8.8 per cent to 2026. 

The same study expects that from 2016 to 2026, the U.S. will need an additional 96,200 energy auditors. 

To picture the opportunities presented to an energy auditor, let’s look at job postings from Glassdoor.

EmployerLocationEstimated SalaryBasic Requirements
JLLSan Francisco, CA$83,000– Engineer in Training or Certified Energy Auditor
– Five years’ experience in energy auditing
– Familiar with ASHRAE Standards 55.1, 62.1 and 90.1
NYC CareersNew York, NY$75,000– Bachelor of Architecture or Civil Engineering
– At least one year of experience
– Knowledge of NYC zoning resolution, construction
codes, and energy conservation code
New England Energy Efficiency CompanyWilmington, WA$70,000– Two-year college degree
– One to three years of experience in HVAC, building diagnostics, etc.
– BPI, LEED or RESNET certification
Home Energy RXLittle Rock, AR$54,000– Minimum of two-year technical degree
– HERS or BPI certification
– Proficiency in Microsoft Office Software
Greater Lawrence Community ActionLawrence, MA$51,000– High School Diploma or GED
– At least 10 hour OSHA certificate
– Lead Renovator certificate (RRP)

Based on this small sample, you can easily see that the requirements for energy auditors are wide-ranging. It often depends upon the type of work or responsibility assigned.

Infographic of the estimated total pay for an energy auditor per year in the US

What is Energy Management?

Energy management is the practice of monitoring and improving energy consumption in a facility.

This process is not limited to the upgrading of equipment and design of the facility. It also focuses on other aspects, such as the energy efficient practices and behaviour. 

Some of the steps involved in energy management:

  1. Engage with top management; top management needs to support and drive an energy management program for it to be most effective.
  2. Gather and analyze data continually.
  3. Identify optimization opportunities to improve energy efficiency, such as equipment re-scheduling.
  4. Plan and implement energy optimization solutions.
  5. Ensure that staff implement energy efficient practices, and that appropriate training is provided
  6. Monitor results, and take corrective action where solutions aren’t operating as intended.
  7. Use a “Plan – Do – Check – Act” cycle on an on-going basis to get continual improvement.  

Energy management is crucial to any business or organization because it reduces risk, carbon emissions, and energy costs.

How About an Energy Manager?

Energy managers are employed to implement an  Energy Management System (EnMS). They plan and execute energy-efficient measures to save money for the business or organization that employs them.

Additionally, they are responsible for continually monitoring, evaluating, and revising the energy management activities in order to meet energy reduction targets. 

Meanwhile, some companies put energy managers in charge of a small group. Thus, aside from calculative and analytical skills, they are also expected to have leadership skills.

Infographic of what does an energy manager do

What Does an Energy Manager do?

Energy managers wear different hats depending upon the company. They often recommend strategies, using the data provided by energy auditors and building inspectors.

Furthermore, an energy manager often reports their activities to the company’s top management or board of directors. They are responsible for communicating with the building’s utility and maintenance staff about new energy-saving measures, and ensuring that projects are well implemented.

Unlike the strong technical and engineering focus of energy auditors, energy managers are involved more in planning and management Energy managers may use software to analyze and develop energy management plans and track performance.

 Infographic of the difference between an energy auditor and energy manager using a Venn diagram

The Difference Between an Energy Auditor and an Energy Manager

Energy auditors and energy managers vary in several ways. However, they have similarities, especially in their roles within a company.

An energy auditor focuses on fieldwork and collecting data, using numerous tools. Meanwhile, an energy manager’s work centers around management and planning.

The following are some of the differences between an energy auditor and an energy manager:

Role or PositionPrimary ResponsibilityCore Skills
Energy AuditorTheir work entails auditing commercial and industrial properties to identify and quantify where energy is used, and opportunities to save energy– Knowledgeable in energy using
and systems (e.g. HVAC, lighting, steam,
motors etc)
– Ability to use multiple measurement
and diagnostic tools
Energy ManagerTheir work focuses on effective energy management through planning, staff engagement, data analysis and project management.– Planning
– Engagement and project management
Knowledgeable of energy management  systems
– Must have good quantitative and
technical skills

Energy Auditor Prerequisites

Before taking an energy auditor certification exam, you are required to have eligibility. The following shows a combination of education and experience that certifying bodies like AEE look for in a candidate.

No degreeAt least ten years of related experience
Two-year technical degreeAt least five years of related experience
Four-year non-engineering degreeAt least four years of related experience
Four-year degree in architecture or engineering, a Registered
Architect (R.A.) or Professional Engineer (P.E.)
At least three years of related experience

*Note that related experience should be verifiable and within energy management and auditing roles.

Furthermore, you must submit proof of completing at least a couple of hours of safety training. You must provide documentation of performing at least five energy audits over the last three years.

Energy Manager Prerequisites

AEE also offers the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification. This name, however, is misleading, in that the CEM training and exam has a focus on energy using technologies, and not on energy management as outlined earlier in this document. 

The shortest path to becoming an AEE certified energy manager is to be an architect or engineer with the necessary experience.

No degreeAt least ten years of related experience
Two-year Associate degreeAt least eight years of related experience
Two-year Associate degree in Energy ManagementAt least six years of related experience
Four-year degree in Business-related fieldsAt least five years of related experience
Four-year degree in Physics, Environmental Science, Earth Science
or Technology
At least four years of related experience
Four-year degree in Architecture or Engineering; or a Professional
Engineer (P.E.) or is a Registered Architect (R.A.)
At least three years of related experience

*Note that related experience should be verifiable and within energy management and auditing roles.

The two professional organizations where you can apply for energy manager certification are:

  • The Association of Energy Engineers (AEM)
  • The Energy Management Association (EMA)

The EMA certification has a focus on the management and continual improvement of energy performance in commercial buildings. .

Do You Need to be an Engineer to Become an Energy Auditor or Manager

The sustainability industry has yet to adopt a single internationally accepted standard for qualification and energy auditor and energy manager certification. We have discussed a couple of well known certifications above. 

Even without an engineering degree, you can still apply as an energy auditor or manager, but you will need to a high school diploma or GED.

Moreover, you are still obliged to comply with the requisite experience in the energy management field. Those with four-year degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs require less experience than those with a two-year Associate degree.

Infographic of the estimated time an energy audit takes

Why Energy Auditors are Always in Demand

Since 2004, job vacancies for the energy auditor role have grown by 2.35 per cent per year on average. According to Recruiter.com, the USA will require some 10,820 new energy auditors until 2029.

Based on this data, more than 93% of energy auditors work for a corporation. Meanwhile, the remaining 7 per cent are self-employed. The states that host most energy auditors include Texas, California, Florida, and New York.

For the past couple of decades, the demand for energy auditors has been high. Even online inquiries on how to become a certified energy auditor have risen over the last few years.

Many companies want to cut costs, and energy consumption is one target area to save money.

And because of concern about climate change, many businesses and institutions are seeking to become more energy efficient.

Energy auditors are also at the forefront of the recent sustainability trend. Before any company can plan and execute new energy policies or measures, it must first understand its energy use and how it contributes to its carbon footprint.

Thus, energy editors are always in demand as many industries and companies have significant energy expenses and are keen to reduce them. Moreover, the popularity of renewable energy has prompted many to get their properties examined by an energy auditor – who can advise on how to reduce energy use, and of the potential benefit of renewable solutions such as rooftop solar. 

Energy Auditor Benefits

Many engineers, architects, and even those with relevant backgrounds choose to get an energy auditor certification. After all, being an energy auditor has several benefits not found in most roles in the energy industry.

Below are some of the benefits afforded an energy auditor:

Reasonable Salary

The base annual salary of a new energy auditor is around $44,000 to $74,000. As experience is gained over five to ten years, this salary nearly doubles. 

While not as high or competitive as some engineering jobs, it’s still a generous amount. Furthermore, the salary increase is significant and worth the investment in Energy Auditor Certification.

Lots of Field Work

Being an energy auditor will suit you if you don’t want to be stuck doing office work. The job often requires travel to different locations to inspect various facilities.

Thus, you won’t get bored, and you’ll even get a chance to meet and collaborate with different people.

Plenty of Opportunity to Grow

Jobs in the energy and sustainability sector are evolving as new technologies are being discovered. Yet getting an energy auditor certification now places you in an advantageous position as reducing energy use is always the first step.

Moreover, the job of an energy auditor offers a diverse career path that branches out to other industries.

A Job With a Purpose

Energy auditors are in the vanguard of protecting the planet. An energy auditor inspecting a facility and removing any efficiencies ensures that nothing goes to waste. Moreover, the work of the energy auditors is crucial for those companies who want to switch to renewable energy. 

Overall, being an energy auditor is a job to be proud of. While the job may be challenging at times, it’s an exciting career, especially with all the new technologies popping up.

Energy auditors overlaid with text: start your energy auditor journey with us

Start Your Energy Auditor Journey With Sustemy

The Sustainable Education Academy (Sustemy) offers comprehensive training built around becoming certified as an Investment Grade Energy Auditor. We offer a wide variety of courses to help you jumpstart your career in the energy efficiency and the sustainability industry.

Our online courses and training are affordable and easily accessible on any device. Sustemy’s team of experienced instructors are some of the most highly-respected professionals in the energy sector. At the Sustainability Education Academy we are committed to making your energy auditor journey effective and efficient.

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