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There are several different interpretations of what it is an energy manager does, making it a bit complicated to answer how to become an energy manager concisely. An energy manager could be someone implementing a management system that has a focus on energy (such as ISO 50001), or it could be a person who has a more technical role, and whose job it is to ensure that energy using technology in a facility or across a business operates in an efficient way. In this article we focus on the second definition.

To be able to fulfill the role of an energy manager (with a technical focus) require a range of competencies. These include understanding the energy saving and optimization opportunities with HVAC systems, lighting, pumps and motors, air compressors, steam and other energy using systems.  

If certification as an energy manager is sought, typically this will require an engineering degree, related experience, and passing a exam. 

Don’t lose hope if you don’t have an engineering degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) program. Related degrees in physical sciences, mathematics, and architecture are also accepted.

If you want to know how to become an AEE Certified Energy Manager (CEM) this article is for you. We will discuss every step of how to be a certified energy manager, including the fees and the exam you have to take.  AEE is the Association of Energy Engineers. 

Infographic of the definition of an energy manager to help answer how to become an energy manager

Steps on How to Become an Energy Manager

An energy manager is responsible for planning, monitoring, and improving the energy usage of a facility or business.

Here are the steps you must take to become a certified energy manager. 

1. Be Eligible

Before taking the CEM examination, you must first have education and work experience eligibility. If you have the following qualifications, then you are allowed to take the exam:

  • A 2-year associate degree plus more than eight years of related experience
  • A 2-year associate degree in energy management plus more than six years of related experience
  • A 4-year degree in a business-related field plus five years of related experience 
  • A 4-year degree in Earth Science, Environmental Science, Physics or Technology plus four years of related experience 
  • A 4-year degree in Architecture or Engineering plus three years of related experience; professional engineers or architects are included 
  • If you don’t have any of the related degrees but have more than ten years of related work experience

2. Attend a CEM Training Seminar

If you are eligibible, you must register to attend a CEM preparatory training seminar.  This seminar typically runs for 4 ½ days. For the AEE CEM certification this training seminar must be offered by a training provider approved by the Association of Energy Engineers

Most of these courses are held on-site, but there are also training providers that offer live online options. 

3. Register for an Exam

After completing the training seminar, applicants must then sit an exam. Typically students register for the exam before attending the training seminar, then take the exam immediately after the training. 

There are about 17 different topics covered in the certification exam. Some of the body of knowledge included are HVAC systems, energy audits and instrumentation and boiler and steam systems.

You also need to pay a fee of $400 whether you are taking the exam remotely or doing it in conjunction with the live training seminar. 

4. Pass the Exam

A typical CEM certification exam usually consists of 130 questions that you have to answer in four hours or less. You need to get the correct answer to 68% of the questions to get a passing grade and become a AEE certified energy manager. 

You will then receive the results after 30 days. If you did not succeed at the exam, you could retake it by paying a $200 fee. 

Note that the CEM certification needs to be renewed every three years. You also need to pay a $300 fee, and demonstrate that you have undertaken continued professional development (CPD). 

Infographic of the steps to become an energy manager

Why Become an Energy Manager?

Becoming an energy manager is a fulfilling job since it offers plenty of growth opportunities. 

While the job is as tough as any management or engineering role, it’s just as rewarding. You often have to work with contractors and product suppliers from different backgrounds. Furthermore, the energy sector is viewed as the one of the next centres for innovation in the coming decades. 

Many consider a career in energy management because they view it as an job where they can work on something positive and meaningful. The job also requires a lot of problem-solving and collaboration, making it less prone to boring or repetitive tasks. 

Below are some of the reasons why you should consider pursuing a career as an energy manager: 

In-Demand Role

Energy managers are sought after by many companies in different industries such as manufacturing, mining, and construction. 

According to the 2020 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for energy managers and environmental specialists will grow by eight percent in the next decade. 

Furthermore, this role also offers multiple career paths, specializing in facilities management, green engineering, and environmental protection. You can also work as an energy consultant or establish a small firm. 

Generous Salary

According to U.S. BLS data, the annual median salary of an energy manager is $73,230. Meanwhile, Salary.com estimates an energy manager’s salary to be between $93,113 to $126,005. 

Many energy managers are hired by private institutions, businesses, and state and federal government agencies. They spend both time in the office – reviewing plans, evaluating data, writing reports, and creating recommendations – and in the field – assessing equipment, managing contractors, and ensuring that energy usage is appropriately metered. 

Meaningful Career

Aside from earning a decent income, being an energy manager is also quite noble. It’s one of the professions where your work can help “save the planet”. 

Energy managers oversee the energy usage of a building or facility and aim to make it more efficient. The measures they introduce directly result in a lowering of the carbon footprint of the company they work for 

Moreover, the energy industry is one of the most exciting fields today. There’s plenty of professional development, and new technologies are being developed every year. 

Train to Be One With Sustemy

Sustainability Education Academy (Sustemy) makes it easier for sustainability professionals to learn new skills. Our training and practical courses can help you further your career in the sustainability industry by becoming an Investment-Grade Energy Auditor. This course covers off on the technical skills required by an energy manager. 

If you plan to take the Certified Energy Manager exam, Sustemy’s team of highly-qualified instructors can help you prepare, too. Create an account at Sustemy today and start learning to be a better sustainability and energy efficiency expert.  You may also be interested in other relevant fields and even their potential income. If so, check out our energy manager vs energy manager salary comparison.

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