How I Decided To Become A Wind Tech
Before I began looking into a career as a wind turbine technician, I was a bartender. I was barely getting by with the amount of money I was making in this dead end job. I tried college, studying business for two years before deciding I couldn’t live with myself if I ended up working a desk job.
I had long had a natural curiosity about electrical generation, clean and renewable energy, and electro-magnetism. I would tinker with magnet toys and watch fascinating YouTube videos on the subject. I finally heard about a school which was focused on training people for careers in the renewable energy industry. While I was doing research on the subject, something inside me “clicked.” I wanted to be a wind turbine technician. Now that I am one, I have no regrets, I only wish to share my success and help others get out of the same rut I found myself in.
It became the perfect alternative to my stagnant life. I came to this conclusion through a process of rationalizing my desires and fears.
- working a dead-end job
- making barely enough money to get by
- spending precious money and time on finishing college, only to be disappointed by the career I ended up with
- working a desk job and hardly ever seeing the light of day
- working a career with opportunities for advancement
- making enough money to live comfortably and stop stressing out about paying the bills
- to be mentally challenged
- to work outdoors and close to nature
- to feel excited about my life and my career
When I found out what a wind turbine technician was, what they do, how much money they make, and how long it would take me to become one; everything lined up with my desires.
Try to tell me this doesn’t sound tempting;
Wind turbine technicians:
- are in high demand
- make as much and usually more than the average college graduate, some making up to $150,000 a year
- only need to go to school for less than a year
- learn fundamental knowledge about electricity and power generation, knowledge that can benefit them in numerous other areas of their lives
- work outdoors and in a mentally and physically healthy environment
- are helping to clean up the environment and not polluting it further
- receive comprehensive benefits such as: health insurance, 401k, pension, paid vacation, sick and holidays
The wind industry is booming and it’s no coincidence. The allure of the wind industry is indisputable, and with the cost of wind power now rivaling oil and gas, the demand is high. Wind farms, where several turbines are installed in one spot for easy control, are being built everywhere, around the world. More than 45,100 wind turbines are installed in the United States alone, and with wind farms established in over 70 countries, there is a huge demand for workers to keep these things up and running. That’s why these wind power companies can afford to pay so well.
Wind energy is everywhere, it won’t be going anywhere soon.
What Does A Wind Tech Do?
A Wind Turbine Technician is someone who completes corrective and preventive maintenance, as well as troubleshooting various problems on wind turbines.
Wind turbine technicians or “wind techs” must be equipped with a specialized and diverse arrangement of skills in order to do their jobs. At the heart of the wind tech’s skill-set is a deep know-how of the workings of mechanical, hydraulic, and electrical systems. Troubleshooting issues associated with these systems is a daily task for the wind tech. A good understanding of the operation of cranes is in good order as well, since crane’s are used to lift the technicians tools and materials to the top of the tower where the majority of work is done.
Are you afraid of heights? Because wind techs must be able to work comfortably at an average of 300 feet high. This is one of my favorite parts of the job. It’s a healthy workout and the views from the tops of the towers are breath-taking. It is essential that wind techs are healthy enough to perform at least one tower climb per day. Usually, there is a company administered “climb-test” which will determine whether or not you are healthy enough to perform the essential job duties.
How much does it pay?
Because the demand is so high for wind turbine technicians, and because wind techs require such a specific skill-set, companies can afford to pay very good wages. Wages for this job are comparable to what the average Bachelor’s degree holder earns. Speaking personally, I started out making more money annually than any of my friends who earned four-year college degrees! Typically, wind techs with a few years under their belt earn about $50,000 a year. Earning raises annually is standard. Depending on length of time in the industry and scope of work, some wind techs can earn up to $150,000 in one year!
Entry-level positions begin at $15 – $21 hourly. The lowest starting rate I’ve seen is $15 hourly, and it looks like $17 – $18 is the average entry-level starting rate. Higher pay may be given to those entry-level techs with relevant education or experience.
Working over-time is to be expected, since the wind never stops blowing and since time is money, techs have to fix the turbines quickly. The good news is, working over-time is generally paid in time-and-a-half, so this is where techs can make the big bucks. Working over-time is one of the best feelings, knowing that money is just rolling in.
There are many techs who work traveling positions, which requires them to rotate around several wind farms as needed These guys generally earn more since they get paid “per-diems” or per-day pay. This helps to cover their traveling, housing, and eating expenses. Frugal techs will save this per-diem and live modestly, ultimately earning a considerably larger amount per year.
Most wind-power companies also offer a comprehensive benefits package in addition to the great pay. This includes:
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Paid Vacation
Most companies offer annual bonuses, and some offer a pension. It’s a pretty comprehensive package for a career which doesn’t require a degree to work in.
How To Become A Wind Tech
There are a variety of roads to becoming a wind turbine technician. The good news is there is not a standardized certification for become a wind tech. There are many backgrounds and educational programs one could use to get hired. Some good advice is to look at a wind turbine technician job listings. Try a job board like indeed.com. The listing has valuable information regarding what the company requires to attain this position.
Companies often times give preference to those with two or more years in a related field. Related fields include:
- appliance repair
- anything involving wind turbines (cleaning, construction)
- troubleshooting of any kind
If you’ve got this experience, you can already apply!
For those who don’t have related experience:
- You can earn a certification from a wind turbine technician training course. Many community colleges and trade schools are jumping on-board with adding wind technician curriculum to their programs. Take your time and do your research when choosing a school. Because there is no standardized certification, some schools have sub-par programs. Some programs can be completed in two months, others, two years. Take into account your budget and time when selecting a school. Talk to students enrolled in the program already to get a feel for how good the quality of education is.
- Take a wind turbine maintenance position. This is the fast track to becoming a tech if you don’t have any experience or education. Many companies hire guys who’s jobs are purely maintaining the turbines. Your responsibilities will be limited, but it’s a great way to get acquainted with the turbines and get your foot in the door. It would definitely allow for a smooth transition to becoming a full blown wind tech later on.
- There is a high-demand for wind turbine technicians
- Wind turbine technicians have a broad range of skills. Transferring to another career would easy
- Wind turbine technicians get compensated well
- Wind turbine technicians come from a variety of backgrounds
- Wind turbine technicians have flexibility in their ability to attain their jobs
Being a Wind Tech is exciting, dangerous, rewarding, challenging, and lucrative. I hope you’ll join me in this growing work-force that is breaking the mold and braving new frontiers.