December 11th, 2009

9 Places to Find a Job in Renewable Energy

CleanTech Guide -

I’ve been getting a lot of emails and questions about where to find jobs in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and green building. There is no question there is a lot of opportunity out there. In renewable energy, the industry is mainly driven by state incentives so your opportunities are somewhat limited depending on how progressive your states incentives are. Green building and energy efficiency opportunities are less effected by incentives and thus tend to be everywhere.

I recently read a great post on Renewable Energy Word title “Competition for Renewable Energy Jobs Getting more Intense“. Stephan Lacey has some good points, but I don’t want you to be discouraged. The penetration of the renewable energy industry, particularity in solar and wind is almost NOTHING (see graph below). It is easy for a small industry to double ever couple of years, or triple like solar has been doing. Try to find a roof in your town with a solar system on it. Seriously, try, it will be hard.

Here are 9 great resources you can use to find companies in the clean energy industry.

Most of these companies are growing rapidly and looking for passionate employees and self starts that don’t need supervision. When approaching companies, keep in mind that the industry is very new and there are barely any ‘experts’ in renewable energy, 1 years of experience is A LOT. Just keep in mind, there’s no magic bullet, its the wild wild west out there, and don’t be intimated by not having experience because barely anyone does!

Solar Business Association of New England (SBANE)

This directory lists all of the solar PV and solar thermal installers in New England. If you are not located in New Englad, there are resource below that will help you. With this you can find names, briefs descriptions, websites, and contact information for all the companies installing solar systems. Some of the companies do other renewable energy work, typically installing wind systems or energy efficiency services.

Inc 500 Fast Growing Energy Companies

This lists all energy related companies in the USA, so you’ll have to do some work to find companies that are focusing on renewables. The name of the company should give you a good hint.

Find Solar.com Solar Panel Installers by region directory

Find Solar.com is a resource that is typically used by property owners to find a solar installer in their region. However, it can used be job seekers to find companies as well!

International Groudsource Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) Professional Directory

IGSPHA is the industry association for the geothermal heat pump association. Geothermal heat pumps are the most efficiency heating and cooling system to operate bar none. In the directory they lists people that have passed the IGSPHA accredited installer training. The directory lists their names, phone, email, and most importantly company information.

NABCEP Certified Installers Directory

NABCEP certification is the de-facto industry standard that certifies expert solar PV and solar thermal system installers. If you’re unfamiliar with the difference, see the Renewable Energy Clean Tech Guide 101 here.

These are personal emails that are listed, so be polite! Most of the time people are very willing to talk about their experiences but don’t be rude.

BPI Accredited Professionals Directory

BPI stands for Building Performance Institute. BPI offers training and certification for contractors doing energy efficiency work. If you are interested in the energy efficiency of buildings, this is the perfect place to find professionals and companies that are doing this type of work.

USGBC Chapter Locator

The best place to connect with green building professionals is through your local chapters. Use this website to find your local chapters. Local chapters typically have tons of resources, events, and other ways for building professionals to connect with each other.

Renewable Energy World Job Board

This is one of the most extensive job boards I’ve seen. I’ve never applied for a job through the site. However, I have used it to get a good idea of the companies involved in renewable energy and then contact them through other means.

Clean Techies Job Board

Another great job board with highly targeted job placements. I’ve noticed that some of their posting are not in the renewable energy industry but most are. They have a whole range of postings, from executive to entry level positions.

Strategies

Find between five and ten companies that you want to approach, be relentless but polite. Do not feel bad being persistent, most people will appreciate it (because they are so busy) and it shows you are really interested in the position.

Here are a couple simple strategies that I have found useful once I find a company I’m very interested in.

  1. Do not ask for a job, or say that you are looking for a job. This is like walking up to a stranger and asking them to be your girlfriend or boyfriend. It doesn’t work and its too fast which makes it awkward.
  2. Say you that you are doing research and would like to learn more about their company. In reality, this is exactly what you do want to do in order to see if its a good fit or not. If you’re contacting a specific person, say that you’ve done a lot of research about the company (because you have) but that you want to learn about it from a first-hand perspective. Use this time to see what the company is working on and where they need help.
  3. Use LinkedIn to see if you know someone from that company. If you don’t know what LinkedIn is, you need to. Probably you know someone who knows someone and they might be able to make a connection for you, if you ask them.
  4. If you’re interested in working in sales or business development, find potential customers for the company you are looking for and then contact them saying you have a couple customers for them and want to work for them. Companies want to know you’re focused on making them money. This tactic will set you apart from the rest of the crowd.
  5. Start a personal blog and use the interview approach to get your foot in the door. Having a blog gives you a press pass and makes it much easier to connect with people inside of a company.

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.