There's a great future in energy
Careers in Energy
Energy careers encompass a host of disciplines, including engineering, construction, computer science, risk management, business law, finance, public and government relations, vegetation management, technical services, human resources, supply-chain management, customer service, auto mechanics, CAD services, business management, and cybersecurity. Organizations in the energy industry encourage recent high school and college graduates, and workers looking for an exciting career change, to consider the energy field.
Skilled Occupations ‘Brain Drain’
“By 2030, 20 percent of all workers will be 65 or older — the age usually associated with retirement,” The Kiplinger Letter reported in its May 25, 2018, issue. “Skilled occupations are especially vulnerable to the coming brain drain — financial workers, nurses, teachers, utility workers, etc.”
According to Kiplinger’s, companies are trying to keep skilled workers and attract new ones. Instead of watching retiring employees go out the door, employers are encouraging them to work part time or as consultants.
Industry ‘Game Changer’
The Virginia Energy Workforce Consortium says, “The energy industry is in the midst of a significant transformation with the implementation of game-changing technologies, a growing infrastructure, grid modernization, and regulation and policy changes.”
Many students today seem to want to be a part of this game changer. “When I talk to high school students about careers, a lot of them tell me they want to major in environmental studies,” says Allison Kane, NOVEC supervisor, human resources programs and services. “Where’s a better place to use knowledge about the environment than in energy? Workers can help develop renewable energy, focus on regulations and policy, encourage consumers to use energy wisely, and manage vegetation safely to protect power-line corridors.”
Part of the game change is the growing demand for workers in the renewable-energy field. “Solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians are the two fastest-growing occupations in the U.S.,” the June 8, 2018, Kiplinger Letter said. “Neither position requires experience in a related field or college degree, but most wind turbine technicians learn their trade by attending a technical school.”
Energy Quickens the Pulse
Jill Scherzer, NOVEC Electric System Operations manager, says working for an electric utility often quickens the pulse: “An alarm gets our attention in the System Control Center when a power outage occurs somewhere along our 7,252-mile distribution system. We’re always working against time because we want to restore service as quickly and safely as possible.”
Adrenaline also kicks in when weather forecasters see a major storm on their radar. Scherzer says, “We activate our Emergency Service Restoration Plan and mobilize personnel. Almost everyone in the company — whether they fuel utility trucks, get supplies and equipment ready, go into the field to locate and remove trees from power lines, climb power poles, or communicate with members — works to restore power.”
Jimmy Mynhier, NOVEC lead line technician, likes the exhilaration and rewards of his job. The former U.S. Marine says, “I enjoy the challenge of a good storm when the power is out. This challenge comes with the reward of thank you’s from our customers. I love my job and I would recommend it to anyone who looks forward to new challenges every day, wants to help people, and loves being outdoors.”
John Nguyen works at a computer, but the economist agrees that working in the energy field is stimulating. “I work as a research analyst in the power supply department. My co-workers and I oversee and manage the energy resources NOVEC uses to meet current and future consumer demand. I enjoy being in the utility industry because it is constantly evolving and keeps you on your toes.”
NOVEC’s Apprenticeship Programs
NOVEC offers five apprenticeship programs. The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes these programs, which combine on-the-job training with technical instruction for occupations that demand a high level of skill. After successfully completing the program, an apprentice earns the nationally recognized Commonwealth certification as a journeyman.
Four-Year Apprentice Programs
• electric utility designer
• line technician
• quality assurance inspector
• substation electrician
Two-Year Apprentice Program
• system operator
Go to novec.com/careers to learn about a career at NOVEC.