8 Best Paying Jobs In Energy: Renewable Energy Careers (2023)

A scene showing some of the best paying jobs in energy like solar and wind.

As the transition to renewable energy plays out, new career opportunities are taking shape.

Faced with the challenge of adapting to the impacts of climate change, a need for novel skills has led to the emergence of new, highly-varied jobs in the energy sector.

Of course, we all need a job that pays well and leaves us fulfilled – so which jobs in the power industry could help you reach your sustainable goals?

It’s not always easy to balance a career that leaves us fulfilled and covers our day-to-day expenses and future plans, but these jobs do exist and could be waiting for you.

So, what do energy jobs pay and what kinds of requirements exist?

What are the best paying jobs in energy?

The Hartwell Dam, which generates hydropower, relasing large amounts of water.

Let’s just start with the list of jobs – if you want more details about why you might consider working in this industry, we’ll be going over that afterwards.

Ranking them by average US salary in terms of full-time jobs, the goal of this list is to provide a simple scrollable list that also expands on some detailed job requirements and things you may experience while working; giving you a complete snapshot of the industry.

If you’re curious, the energy industry salaries are based on 2022-2023 data pulled from the United States Bureau Of Labor Statistics (BLS) wage database.

Also, further down you’ll find a section covering more general jobs in the energy industry; things like managers, analysts, consultants – while these careers are often highly paid and necessary, they’re more difficult to categorize in renewable energy as the requirements vary widely (check further down for more info).

Just remember that the salaries and education requirements are going to change based on your location:

1. Aerospace Engineer (Wind Energy)

A wind turbine farm located alongside some livestock grazing land.

Average Salary: $126,880 yearly or $61.00 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Designing and testing wind energy technology including materials, components, facilities, and manufacturing processes
  • Planning the layout of wind farms and estimating potential energy production levels
  • Following safety and quality standards that limit environmental impacts
  • Office work setting is typical

Typically when someone mentions aerospace engineering, you immediately think about designing rockets or missiles. However, aerospace engineering fulfills another role within the energy industry – designing the technology behind wind turbine farms.

Wind energy is often discounted compared to things like solar or nuclear power generation; the reality is, within best case scenarios wind energy could provide around 40 times the global demand for energy while also having much less disastrous downsides.

2. Nuclear Engineer

nuclear power plant
Image by Jeanne M. via Flickr

Average Salary: $122,480 yearly or $58.89 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Designing and researching ways in which humanity can use and control nuclear energy more effectively
  • Addressing the challenges of and providing solutions for the safe disposal of nuclear waste
  • Office work setting is typical

Nuclear engineering is an incredibly important facet of the energy industry, making it one of the best paying jobs in power generation as of 2022. Although many nations with advanced economies are starting to slow down or close nuclear plants, the safe deployment of new and improved nuclear energy generation is still vital to the transition.

Nuclear energy provides us with zero-emissions electricity that can be used to complement other kinds of renewable energy – things like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power that are more variable and subject to changes in weather compared to a nuclear plant.

3. Electrical and Electronics Engineer

national guard electrical engineers

Average Salary: $104,610 yearly or $50.29 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Designing, developing, and testing new electrical equipment and technologies that aid in renewable power generation
  • Projects could range from small-scale and niche operations to nation-wide, federally funded energy blueprints
  • Office work setting is typical

Electrical and electronics engineers are behind the guts of our global power generation systems; any large or small project that generates electricity is powered by technology developed by thousands of engineers.

When it comes to renewables, even sectors like hydropower require an incredible amount of electric hardware behind the scenes to function; and hydropower combined with wind power make up more than one-third of electrical power generation in the United States – no small feat.

4. Civil Engineer

hydropower facility construction

Average Salary: $89,940 yearly or $43.24 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Planning, designing, and overseeing the execution of various energy related projects
  • Identifying potential environmental hazards, managing budgets, and working within regulations during said planning
  • Aiding the energy transition by ensuring materials used meet sustainable standards and energy ratings
  • Office work setting is typical

Civil engineers are at the heart of the transition to renewable energy infrastructure all across the world. They’re the planners of these vast, nation-wide projects that interconnect and will hopefully lead to a future where renewable energy is easily accessible for all of us.

Hydroelectric dams, solar or wind energy farms, and energy-efficient buildings all need someone behind them; planning these projects in a way that makes them realistic to follow through on is one of the most important aspects of the entire process.

5. Atmospheric Scientist

A satellite image of various weather systems forming across North America.

Average Salary: $83,780 yearly or $40.28 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Predicting and measuring atmospheric trends like temperature, windspeed, and humidity as temperature, windspeed, humidity, and using models to analyze data
  • Using models to compile and analyze weather data, and prepare reports to help plan infrastructure projects and new software development
  • Office work setting is typical

As our climate changes, atmospheric scientists will play an integral role in our energy transition. Expert knowledge is almost always needed in order to plan new projects in the face of extreme weather events – finding the best spots to build and run our energy infrastructure is just as important as designing them.

Wind energy is especially intertwined with meteorology (a focus on weather forecasting), with massive amounts of off-shore wind farms sprouting up all across the world as countries race to distance themselves from the fossil fuel industry.

6. Architect (Green Buildings)

An offshore oil drilling rig located near Invergordon, Scotland.

Average Salary: $82,840 yearly or $39.83 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Working within or managing a team of architects to design modern, green, and energy-efficient buildings
  • Planning projects out with a heavy consideration of the environmental impacts of urban development
  • Office work setting is typical

The practice of constructing green buildings that compliment natural environments is a relatively new phenomenon. If you currently work in the architectural world, you could make the transition to more sustainable projects if you so desire.

You may find yourself fulfilling a role in the development of more sustainable cities, following the principles of biophilic design and styles of architecture like eco brutalism – crucial new ideas aimed at solving the issues that come with expanding urban sprawl.

7. Wind Turbine Technician

A few hard-working, engineered wind turbines at dusk.

Average Salary: $57,320 yearly or $27.56 hourly

Education: Degree not usually required

Job Duties:

  • Repairing and maintaining established wind turbine farms and operations
  • Working outdoors and within confined spaces that vary widely depending on the time of year, weather, and region
  • On-site work setting is typical

The unspoken hero of the aerospace engineers designing turbines and atmospheric scientists helping plan out where to install them are the technicians that keep them running; without skilled technicians, renewable energy infrastructure would fall into disrepair.

This is one of those careers in the energy industry accessible for anyone interested in it – not just those who decided to pursue a degree or higher education. So if you aren’t afraid of heights or getting a little bit dirty, this may be the dream outdoor career you’ve been waiting for.

8. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

A solar power farm located on a farmer's spare land.

Average Salary: $45,230 yearly or $21.75 hourly

Education: Degree not usually required

Job Duties:

  • Assembling, installing, maintaining, and fixing solar farm equipment and other setups based on customer needs
  • Working with an understanding of photovoltaic (PV) technology including cells, batteries, and other components in order to optimize their energy efficiency
  • On-site work setting is typical

As solar power explodes in popularity, a workforce brimming with skilled and reliable technicians is needed to expand renewable infrastructure – and the best part about this job is that is usually doesn’t require any kind of higher education, so anyone who’s interested in working in renewable energy can take part in this rapidly growing career.

The role can vary depending on where you are and if you’re mainly working at one specific location or traveling around to multiple areas installing new panels; typically it involves working outdoors and comes with moderate risks like electrical shocks or burns with a heavy emphasis on safety in most day-to-day solar technician schedules.

What about other high-paying jobs in renewable energy?

All of the above jobs have a more typical training or degree-to-workforce pipeline that you can plan around. Meaning, if you want to become certified to install solar panels it’s pretty easy to find a local course, sign up, get trained, and start working!

But what if you’re in a management position or tech-focused position wanting to pivot into jobs in the renewable energy sector? It’s definitely possible, and can often provide a substantial income as well, so don’t give up on the search if you’re someone working in areas like:

  • Tech-related fields like IT
  • Management & Marketing
  • Analysis & Consulting
  • Logistics
  • Many other fields

All of these career fields can be a part of the green energy revolution, but they aren’t always as straightforward as getting your bachelors in nuclear engineering, for example. You may notice a lack of salaries listed, due to how varied these positions can be:

Computer & Information Systems

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Working alongside computer-related systems critical to various organizations and businesses such as energy management information systems (EMIS)
  • Planning, designing, improving, and managing new software and technology networks
  • Studying and evaluating system functionality and security
  • Office work setting is typical

This is an incredibly broad category, as almost all types of energy industry careers require an insane amount of backend, tech-focused workers fixing and improving things behind the scenes.

If you work in IT or other related industries – there are plenty of options out there, with many of them potentially being some of the highest paying energy jobs, depending on your experience. You may have to be more thorough in your search, however, as these positions tend to vary widely in requirements.

Renewable Energy Management & Marketing

Education: Bachelor’s Degree (varies for marketing)

Job Duties:

  • Coordinating with and managing teams of those working in areas like solar installation, wind turbine maintenance, and other areas of renewable energy generation
  • Developing budgets, schedules, marketing plans, and navigating bids from contractors
  • Handling concerns from local communities, authorities, and regulatory bodies
  • Seamlessly working with engineers, system designers, technicians, and installers on the field to maximize efficiency
  • Office work setting is typical

Project managers and marketers fulfill entirely different roles within a company, but they do both operate behind the scenes to keep things operational.

Renewable energy projects need to be profitable, and in order to compete with the massive budgets of the fossil fuel industry, component managers and marketers need to be present to keep things running smoothly.

Renewable Energy Analysis & Consulting

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Overseeing renewable energy projects or installations
  • Conducting energy surveys and analyzing data to advise clients on relevant sustainable energy solutions
  • Use financial modeling to design new investment structures
  • Evaluate the economics of potential renewable projects
  • Support the origination, negotiation and closing of investment projects

As capital flows into renewables, analysts and consultants are increasingly needed to dictate the terms of deals and conduct all sorts of different analyses needed to smoothly run a company, with an emphasis on financial analysis.

Experts in renewable energy can serve as excellent consultants, covering the entire energy production chain in order to support businesses in reducing or eliminating their environmental impacts. Analysis and consulting positions are incredibly varied, and can be suited for those who like to change things up often.

What about petroleum industry jobs?

If we’re being honest, jobs within the fossil fuel industry pay well. There’s really no denying that. The reason petroleum-related jobs aren’t included on this list is because it’s not a renewable resource.

If you consider the upward trajectory of renewables combined with growing salaries, it becomes a bit difficult to justify working within the petroleum industry. This is especially true if you’re someone who cares about the environment, as working within the petroleum industry means almost assured exposure to some of the most toxic aspects of the culture of climate change denial.

With that being said, here are the stats for one of the most lucrative petroleum jobs:

Petroleum Engineer

An offshore oil drilling rig located near Invergordon, Scotland.

Average Salary: $131,800 yearly or $63.37 hourly

Education: Bachelor’s Degree

Job Duties:

  • Designing and testing various oil-extraction methods, equipment, and infrastructure
  • Evaluating and optimizing oil and natural gas wells for safety and profitability

Engineers specializing in petroleum extraction usually help locate and extract vast amounts of our planet’s fossil fuel reserves; with these forms of energy currently still fulfilling a majority of the world’s energy needs as renewables slowly catch up.

Why should you consider renewable energy sector jobs?

Jobs like designing or repairing wind turbine farms or creating energy efficient buildings are no longer niche – rather, these new sustainable careers are at the forefront of a shift that’s reshaping how we think about energy.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the green energy transition could create upwards of 10 million new jobs by 2030, offsetting the loss of jobs caused by a move away from working for fossil fuel giants. Renewable energy production is skyrocketing across the world as nearly all nations race to curb their emissions and end their reliance on outdated and harmful forms of energy production.

A graph showing renewable energy generation growth from 1965 to 2021.

Obviously, money is the main motivator for most looking for a career. This isn’t something that can be easily debated currently, with the global cost of living reaching new heights as of late. But your job matters in the grand scheme of things, and finding employment that reduces your carbon footprint is an important thing to consider if you care about the environment.

Not only are renewable energy salaries competitive – you may also discover a new sense of purpose in troubling times. While nobody should devote themselves completely to a job, working within an industry that isn’t actively making things worse for future generations can be quite fulfilling.

Compared to many other energy-focused careers within the oil and gas industry, many of the best jobs in renewable energy are relatively future-proofed. If you develop the skills needed to secure one of these jobs now, you’ll likely benefit from the growth of the industry in the future as well.

And energy sector jobs include almost any traditional career you can think of; as energy and environmental organizations need both those focusing on super specific issues (like engineers), as well as all of those working behind the scenes to keep things running smoothly.

Final thoughts

You no longer have to settle for a job in the fossil fuel industry if you want to snag yourself a sizable energy industry salary.

If you’re on the fence about transitioning to a more sustainable career, this list was made for you; covering all of the basic information you may be looking for in your new job hunt.

Do you know of any energy-related jobs not listed here?

We love hearing from you.

Feel like contributing or have a question? Comment below.