There are three characteristics that every aspiring wind turbine technician must have — a high level of dexterity, a passion for problem-solving, and the ability to stay calm even while working on elevated surfaces.
There are also a few steps involved in starting a career in the field, which we carefully outline in the sections below. In the end, our aim is that future wind turbine technicians who complete the article will have received all the foundational knowledge they’d need to start their careers on the right path.
We have also highlighted other critical parts of the process, including the working environment, licensure requirements, and potential salary projections.
What Do Wind Turbine Technicians Do?
Wind turbine technicians are called upon to install and maintain wind turbines. Usually, these components are installed at altitudes of about 200 to 400 feet, necessitating the need for wind turbine technicians to be comfortable with height.
Additionally, a wind turbine technician will also be called upon when components are broken and need to be fixed. They may also have to run diagnostics and inspections occasionally to catch problems before they arise or become complicated.
Generally, wind turbine technicians must be able to work on the three main components of a wind turbine, which are the nacelle, tower, and blades. The nacelle is the large portion of this system that acts as the top cover, holding electronics and technical components. At the same time, the tower is the support for the overall structure, usually built of steel and concrete.
The blades are the rotating components that react to wind and spin the rotor.
A wind turbine technician must have the following common skills to succeed on the job:
- Mechanical skills - for working with an array of mechanical components,
- Teamwork skills - to be able to collaborate efficiently with other members of the team, including fellow wind technicians and electricians,
- Physical strength - to climb up to the necessary height and remain standing until the components are built,
- Computer skills - to be able to operate the troubleshooting software and other applications,
- Attention-to-detail - to notice when components aren’t functioning correctly.
Candidates must also possess experience with relevant equipment and a strong knowledge of key parts of the system. All of these are what they will learn and obtain in training programs.
Wind turbine technicians work outdoors, at great heights, and in environments with extreme temperatures. This is one of the reasons why aspiring wind techs are expected to be physically fit and have strong stamina.
They are also typically found working in confined spaces, mainly when repairing mechanical components in the nacelle. When working on the blades, they must rappel or slide down ropes to the particular section that needs attention.
Thanks to the physically exerting nature of the job, it is common for wind technicians to become injured along the line of duty. Professionals in this field have a very high rate of injury compared to other occupations.
Thankfully, several safety protocols and guidelines have been implemented, with more being introduced, to guard against such injury.
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How To Become a Wind Turbine Technician
There are a few key steps necessary to start a career as a wind turbine technician. We discuss all of these in detail below.
Step 1: Basic Preparation
A crucial essential preparation to make before starting a wind turbine technician career is to research the duties and requirements. Candidates may also be expected to possess a high school diploma or GED, depending on the educational path that they choose.
Step 2: Enroll in an Approved Training Program
The most crucial step to becoming a wind turbine technician is to receive appropriate training at an accredited program. There are several high-quality wind turbine technology training programs nationwide, most of which are offered by technical schools and community colleges.
Step 3: Acquire Training on the Job
Along with rigorous classroom instructions, wind turbine technicians must also receive hands-on training and real-world experience. They may enroll in an on-the-job training arrangement or an apprenticeship.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
While technically, wind turbine technicians are not expected to become certified, it is usually advisable to do so for several reasons. For one, certification impresses potential employers while also opening the door for career growth.
Furthermore, certification helps technicians keep up with the improvements continually being made in various aspects of the field, such as climbing, safety, and self-rescue.
Step 5: Secure Employment
After the above steps have been completed, candidates should start applying for open positions. Possible destinations include power generation companies and equipment merchant wholesalers.
It is also possible for wind turbine technicians to work with construction companies focusing on power and communication lines.
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Salaries and Career and Job Outlook
Nationwide, wind turbine technicians earn an annual average salary of $57,320. This is according to the data revealed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2022. The same findings revealed that wind turbine technicians in the top 10% earn above $80,170, while those in the bottom 10% earn below $45,150.
As one would expect, the particular industry where a wind turbine technician works will affect their annual average salary. Currently, those in wind electrical power generation earn the most, with an average yearly salary of $59,890, followed by those in machinery and equipment maintenance, with an average annual wage of $56,660.
As for the career outlook for the next decade, aspiring wind turbine technicians will be glad to know that the field is set to experience an increase significantly higher than the average for other occupations.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for wind turbine technicians is set to increase by a whopping 45% between 2022 and 2032.
A great deal of these will be as a result of the development of better towers, reducing the cost of wind power generation. The more wind turbines are directed, the higher the demand for technicians to install and maintain them.