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Energy engineer Renewable energy engineer

Energy engineers work on the research, design and construction of power generation plants, and may be involved in drilling for gas and oil.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £20,000 to £80,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need a degree in engineering or a related science subject, like:

  • mining or petroleum engineering
  • environmental technology
  • energy engineering
  • earth sciences
  • environmental engineering
  • renewable or sustainable energy
  • electrical engineering
  • chemical engineering

You may need to have, or be working towards, a postgraduate qualification. This should be related to the area you wish to work in, like an MSc in renewable energy engineering.

The Energy Institute's Energy Careers has details of approved degrees and postgraduate courses.

The Industrial Doctoral Centre for Offshore Renewable Energy has details of sponsorship to research offshore technologies for wind, wave and tidal-current technologies.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:
  • problem-solving ability
  • excellent mathematical and computer skills
  • the ability to manage projects, budgets and people
  • communication and teamworking skills

3. What you'll do

You may work on gas and oil extraction and producing energy from renewable or sustainable sources, like:

  • hydro – water
  • solar – sunlight
  • biomass – plants or plant materials
  • wind power

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • researching and designing new generating sites
  • deciding on the best locations for sites
  • planning and overseeing production programmes for sites
  • managing and coordinating teams of technicians or site workers
  • designing and selecting equipment
  • meeting environmental standards, like carbon reduction targets
  • finding the most cost efficient and productive processes
  • carrying out laboratory experiments 
  • converting experiments into large-scale industrial processes
  • working with geologists, geophysicists and specialist contractors
  • managing projects and budgets

4. Salary

Starter: £20,000 to £30,000

Experienced: £35,000 to £60,000

Highly Experienced: £80,000 (senior energy engineer)

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work 40 hours per week in office-based design or research jobs. If you work on a site like an offshore wind farm or drilling platform, you may work on a shift basis, including nights and weekends.

If you work onshore, it’s usually in offices and laboratories with visits out to sites. Some jobs may involve international travel and long stays away from home.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into planning, policy development, or freelance consultancy.

Last updated: 08 December 2016