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 Degree Possibilities and Training Opportunities
photo credit: Dr. James Momoh

The number of good paying jobs in the renewable energy industry is growing. Job opportunitites exist for entry-level and journey-level workers, as well as college graduates in a wide variety of majors. Demand is especially high for all engineering disciplines, business, economics, math, political science, public policy, environmental science, physics, meteorology and climatology. Opportunities are especially good for those with a mix of technical and policy skills.

There are currently a limited number of degree and training programs regionally that are specifically designed for the renewable energy sector. Below is a list of programs.


Degree Programs

Renewable Energy Engineering (BS)
Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT)
Portland, OR
OIT's Renewable Energy Engineering is a renewable energy program establishes the engineering principles graduates will need to develop, promote, and implement sustainable energy technologies. The degree program begins by establishing a solid foundation of physics, chemistry and mathematics, which pave the way for coursework in electrical and mechanical engineering.  Upper-division courses in renewable-energy specific courses include photovoltaics, energy management and auditing, wind power, biofuels, renewable-energy transportation systems, green building and fuel cells.

Renewable Energy Systems Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Portland Community College (PCC)
Portland, OR
Renewable Energy Systems is an option of Electronic Engineering Technology (EET) program, giving students a more specialized track to a career in renewable energy field. The most comprehensive Renewable Energy Systems (RES) training offering in the State of Oregon preparing technicians for solar power, wind power, fuel cell and other renewable energy fields. Join the worldwide revolution in renewable energy! It has transferability into the 4-year EET or REE degrees at OIT.

Renewable Energy Technician Program (AAS)
Lane Community College
Eugene, OR
This program will prepare students for careers in the Energy Management field, and optionally as Renewable Energy Systems Installers. The Energy Management Program was born in 1980 when Alan Gubrud, a physics instructor at Lane Community College, obtained a grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a curriculum that combined the principles of basic physics with energy analysis techniques. Students gained a working understanding of energy systems in today's built environment and the tools to analyze and quantify energy efficiency efforts. The program began with an emphasis in residential energy efficiency / solar energy systems and has evolved to include commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy system installation technology.

Renewable Energy Technician Training Program
Northwest Renewable Energy Institute
Vancouver, WA
Begin a career as a Wind Turbine Technician with renewable energy training at the Northwest Renewable Energy Institute. Students can expect an innovative approach to learning that will include classroom, computer-based and hands-on training. Our green energy training programs will teach students the technical skills necessary to service, repair, and maintain the demanding requirements of wind turbines. Students will become familiar with the basic concepts of rigging, multi-meters, AC/DC electrical systems, hydraulics, the techniques of computerized data collection, utilize solar energy training and more. Upon completion of this program students will understand the need to follow industry critical safety requirements. Students will also be able to confidently demonstrate their newly developed skills. Graduates of this program will be qualified for entry-level positions as wind turbine technicians.

Renewable Energy Technology Program
Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC)
The Dalles, OR
Columbia Gorge Community College?s Renewable Energy Technology (RET) program is a career ladder program offering a one-year Certificate and an Associate of Applied Science degree. The latest program news is that CGCC has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will allow the program to have two points of entry: spring term and fall term. The Renewable Energy Technology Program prepares students for employment in a broad range of industries. These include hydro-generation, wind-generation, automated manufacturing, and engineering technicians. In the near future, CGCC is expecting to add solar array (farm) technicians to this list of employers. All of the above industries seek employees with high skills in electricity, electronics, and mechanics. The one-year certificate provides a basic level of knowledge and skills in the above areas in addition to computer applications, math, and writing skills. The two-year degree includes more in-depth skill levels to include PLCs (programmable logic controllers), industrial control systems, semiconductor devices/circuits, and higher levels of math and physics. Entry level wages range from $18 per hour to $20 per hour. More experienced technicians or those who progress more quickly on the career ladder due to having graduated from the program can expect wages ranging from $26 to $36 per hour with electrical, electronics, and communication engineering technicians having the potential to earn far more.

Wind Technician Program
Centralia College
Centralia, WA
The Centralia College Center of Excellence for Energy Technology serves as a resource hub for students seeking education that will make them competitive candidates for a career in the energy industry. The college is in the process of developing a wind technician program.

Wind Application Centers

The WACs provide technical assistance to rural schools (analyzing the wind resource, energy usage, siting, permitting, land use, and financials, as well as overseeing the installation of the power system and the DAS and analyzing the performance data). A Wind Application Center (WAC) will be implemented at a state university or college under the leadership of an interested university professor. The WAC will implement a wind energy curriculum and will graduate engineers and systems analysts knowledgeable in the wind application process and hopefully interested in pursuing wind energy as a career. After the 3-year implementation period, the WAC will assume the responsibilities of the state facilitator and will become the primary repository of wind energy applications knowledge and expertise. Schools, small business owners, residential users, state policymakers, regulators, and other stakeholders will view the WAC as the source of information regarding wind energy applications.

Idaho Wind Application Center
Boise State University
Boise, ID
Contact Todd Haynes, Mechanical Engineer, Energy Research, Policy and Campus Sustainability. Contact at, or by phone at (208) 426-4053

Montana State Wind Application Center
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT
Contact Mike Costanti at

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Online Renewable Energy Education

MAPS-GIS Training
Lane Community College
This GIS Mapping program is a three year project funded by the National Science Foundation - Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) to embed Web-based GIS learning modules across the Lane Community College curriculum and to develop a four-course sequence in GIS. Mapping, Analyzing and Problem Solving Using Geographic Information Science: Implementing a GIS Curriculum for Technical Literacy(MAPS-GIS)," (NSF# 0603492). Web-Based GIS The MAPS-GIS Web-based modules are designed to engage students in real-world scenarios that teach geospatial thinking. Web-based GIS reduces the complexities of traditional desktop GIS, yet maintains educational advantages for teaching geospatial thinking. GIS Courses The sequence of GIS courses developed for the MAPS-GIS project provides a foundation in geospatial concepts while developing workforce skills. The focus on collaborative projects using real-world data to solve problems makes the GIS course sequence relevant and dynamic. The classes , Introduction to Maps and Spatial Concepts, Introduction to GIS, Information Analysis and Visualization, and Applications in GIS have been accepted to satisfy GIS course requirements at the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Portland State University.

REE 201 Introduction to Renewable Energy
OIT Distance Education
OIT Distance Education offers online REE 201, Introduction to Renewable Energy, to students at a distance who are interested in the emerging field of renewable energy. This class is an introduction to renewable energy. Topics include photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, green building, fuel-cells, hydrogen, wind power, waste heat, biofuels, wave power, tidal power and hydroelectric. Discussions of economic, environment, politics and social policy are integral components of the course. It is offered in the Fall and Spring Terms. See and

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Apprenticeship Training Programs

photo credit: Joseph Burdick

Registered apprenticeship is a system that allows workers to earn while they learn – apprentices work in the industry while taking classes at night, or for a specified number of weeks out of each year. Their wage rates are tied to journey-level wages, typically starting at 50% of a full-fledged journey level rate and increasing steadily as the apprentice accumulates work and classroom hours.

The primary trades and technicians used in RE and EE include, but are not limited to:

  • Carpenter
  • Electrician
  • Glazier
  • Heating, Ventilation, and Air-conditioning
  • Ironworker
  • Laborer
  • Limited Energy Technician
  • Machinist
  • Millwright
  • Renewable Energy Technician (Limited)
  • Renewable Energy Technician (Combined)
  • Plumbers & Steamfitters
  • Sheetmetal Worker
  • Solar Heating and Cooling Installer (specialty plumbing)
  • Welder

The report referenced below provides the results of a survey of apprenticeship programs which train workers for the renewable and energy efficiency fields. It includes programs that train for jobs in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and ironwork who are employed on projects in wind, solar and geothermal industries.

See P. 30-35. Analysis of Clean Energy Workforce Needs and Programs in Oregon. Hayes, C; Byrd, B; Rafkind, D; 2008. 3EStrategies commissioned by Governor’s Strategic Training Fund program. (Download 1.5 MB PDF file)

See the State Labor and Industries websites for occupational summaries on each trade that has an apprenticeship program.

Apprenticeship Openings

Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industry

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

General Occupation Information

Oregon Labor Market Information System

Washington State Department of Labor
Green Economy Factsheet

Full Directory of Regional Programs Under Construction

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Other Resources

Other Degree and Training Program Information for Wind


Department of Energy

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