Posts tagged ‘engineer’

Getting Technical: Solar Opportunities to Fit your Skill Set

dsc_1274Penned by Raj

In the renewable energy space, there is room for every kind of engineer – mechanical, civil, structural, electrical, chemical, and beyond.

Last week, I talked about starting to understand the solar industry and where you might fit in. The next step is to figure out where your individual skill set is most relevant.

Luckily for you, lots of job openings are available for engineers in all types of solar companies (check out our own site for several). The American Solar Energy Society’s site will also tell you which solar companies are hiring.

Click through a couple job descriptions and look at their core requirements — ignoring for now if they require a couple years or more of industry experience.

Which positions fit your academic background and degrees? Where do the skills you’ve gathered in traditional engineering roles seem to line up with what the solar company is looking for? Start to make a list of these parallels. Where you see shortcomings in your own knowledge of the areas, do research to fill in the gaps — this will help you build your familiarity with the solar space in a very targeted, time-efficient manner. Most importantly, understand that when an employer calls a skillset “required,” they mean it–don’t ignore the position requirements.

This exercise alone will help you get a feel for where you might eventually fit in to a solar company, and give you some short and medium-term goals to aim towards in terms of improving your skillset.

Generally speaking, we’ve seen folks transfer from solar thermal into photovoltaic, and vice-versa. Larger concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) positions draw on industrial project backgrounds. If you’re familiar with the public permitting process for a large refinery, for example, you can easily transfer your skills to a renewable energy firm looking to build a large commercial project in the deserts of California (or Dubai for that matter!).

Last but not least, know your audience. Engineers, in particular, make fact-based decisions. If you don’t have the 5+ years experience required, or never worked in power electronics, then don’t apply for the position if those are core requirements. The concept of a “performance profile” reigns supreme in the world of engineering. If you haven’t done it before, an employer’s not going to risk their business on allowing you to learn on their dime.

Be practical, stay focused, and think laterally–it’s a clear path towards your next solar engineering job.

Next week: Accreditations and classes to bolster your resume.

The American Solar Energy Society also has a
guide on how to step into a solar career.

February 18, 2009 at 5:25 pm 1 comment

Getting Technical: Renewable Energy Inroads

dsc_1274Penned by Raj


Every day, engineers come to us wondering how they can translate their traditional backgrounds into the renewable energy field. Through the next few weeks, I’ll work on providing some tips for those people on how to best present yourself and make your skills relevant as you transition into the green space.


While I’ll go much further in depth in the following weeks, I’ll start out at square one for engineers looking to move into solar technology companies.


For anyone who’s done research in the solar area, you’ll know that there are different kinds of solar technologies. Companies are working on solar PV, solar thermal, or concentrated PV. Companies provide services within these fields, such as building inverters, installation design, and solar as a service.


The first battle is to understand how these different technologies work. Don’t be embarrassed to check out Wikipedia’s article on solar energy or poke around the American Solar Energy Society‘s site to get oriented. (If you have other informative general articles on solar energy, feel free to share them here so other jobseekers can explore them).


Second, you should start to understand who’s out there. We always come back to this map of 100 Cleantech Start-ups that we found on Earth2tech, which has links to a number of different solar companies. Another good place to find information is through the exhibitor lists for some of the big solar conferences that happen every year, such as Intersolar North America.


Next week, I’ll start talking about presenting your transferable skills to companies as you go through your job search.


About me: I am a part-time lecturer at College Eight on Environment and Society at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Prior to joining Bright Green Talent, I worked in several recruitment envrionments, including executive search, technical and engineering roles at Google Inc and global poverty reduction, global health and climate change positions for Google.org. I am interested in the evolving DNA of scientific, engineering and technology talent in the sustainability, energy efficiency and renewable energy technology sectors and the types of skill sets and values that underpin engineering talent.


February 11, 2009 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment


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