Five Year Jobs Outlook for the Power Generation Field
The demand for electrical power is ever growing. As the world gets more plugged in, the infrastructure to support that demand keeps increasing. With that growth, does that mean an increase in jobs in the power generation industry? It all depends on where you look.
In general the job outlook is steady. Due to the recent deregulation of the power generation industry in the US, there are still several realignments that are taking place that are making the job outlook uncertain.
While the power generation industry employs a large number of people, it generally has fewer opportunities for college graduates. Most of the jobs in power generation, including installation and maintenance jobs, only require a high school diploma and on the job training.
Only about 14% of the jobs in the industry would be considered professional jobs like engineering. Another 13% or so consist of management, business and marketing jobs.
Coal and Natural Gas Industry
There are many changes going on in the power industry right now. The conversion of many coal plants over to natural gas is creating a few short term jobs- but these are not expected to last. New demands on plants to be more efficient are causing a decline in jobs.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a net loss of jobs to the tune of 8% over all over the next few years for power plant operators and dispatchers. There is an aging workforce, so opportunities will be available, just not at the large growth rate that is being seen in other parts of the natural gas industry.
Job outlook is favorable for nuclear engineers. This is due to an increased interest in nuclear power generation. Nuclear power, in spite of perceived issues, is still one of the cleanest methods of generating power. This makes it of great interest when thinking of ways to combat climate change. The BLS projects a steady increase of 9% for nuclear engineers over the next 5-10 years. They do mention that this trend might increase due to the need to increase safety systems on aging plants.
Nuclear Technicians are looking for a faster than average growth over the next few years. The BLS projects job growth for nuclear technicians to be on the order of 15% through 2022 because of this greater demand for nuclear power. Typically a bachelors is not required for technicians, an associates of some sort coupled with extensive on the job training will prepare someone for a career in this field.
Wind and Solar
While the research and development aspects of wind and solar are growing right now, any growth in these industries reflect the small percentage of the market they hold. As of 2008, only 1.8% of the total energy generation in the US was done by renewable sources. This number has increased to around 4.5% in 2013. This means that while there may be job growth it isn’t on the same scale as other parts of the power generation industry.
Job projections over the short term seem to be debatable. The BLS seemed to have no concrete job numbers for the next ten years. Perhaps this is mostly due to volatility of the industry and how new it is to the industry as a whole.
Overall, it seems the job outlook for those with an interest in the power generation industry is average if a little high in some sectors. The industry is undergoing several sweeping changes that may affect jobs in the short term. Electrical power will be needed and there is a steady stream of aged workers retiring. This means plenty of opportunity for those looking.
We hope you found these tips useful and that they will get you closer to finding that next career opportunity! I encourage you to provide your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box below.
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Sources & Related Articles
- BP (2014) “Energy Outlook 2030”.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) “Nuclear Engineers”.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) “Power plant Operations, Distributors, and Dispatchers”.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014) “Nuclear Technicians”.