Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Everything You Need to Know about Wind Turbine Technicians

October 23, 2017

You are here

Two men hanging from a wind turbine as they work to prepare the turbine.
Wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing job in the United States. Photo by NREL

Want to hover hundreds of feet in the air on an average work day? Then being a wind technician may be just for you.

It was the fastest growing occupation of the decade in 2016, and employment numbers are expected to double over the next 10 years. 

So, what exactly is a wind turbine technician? How do you become one? What skills and training do you need?

We did a deep dive into the field to answer those questions. This should help you get started.

What is a Wind Turbine Technician?

A wind turbine technician, also known as a windtech, installs, inspects, maintains, operates, and repairs wind turbines. They are able to diagnose and fix any problem that could cause the turbine to shut down unexpectedly.

The median annual wage of a windtech is $52,260. Salaries range from $36,000 to more than $76,000, based on experience and training.

A few of the job duties include: inspecting the exterior of the towers; climbing the towers to inspect, troubleshoot, or repair equipment; collecting turbine data for testing and analysis; performing routine maintenance; testing electrical components, systems, and mechanical and hydraulic systems; and replacing worn out or malfunctioning components.

See for yourself.

Tour A (Wind) Turbine - #RoundIsAShape (U.S. Department of Energy) GoPro
Get an exclusive and entertaining look inside of a wind turbine. Simon and Andy strap GoPro's to their heads and guide you as they travel 270 feet up to the top of a turbine at the National Wind Technology Center in Golden, CO.

Work Environment

If you have a fear of heights or small spaces, this might not be the job for you.

Technicians do most of their work in the nacelle, where sensitive electronics are housed. Since they are built compactly, technicians must be comfortable working in confined spaces. In addition, they also work on top of the nacelles, where they might have to replace instruments that measure wind speed and direction or work with large cranes. To do this, they are standing literally hundreds of feet in the air. To protect them, they wear fall protection, full body harnesses that are attached to the nacelle.

Job Skills

A man works inside the hub of a wind turbine
A wind turbine technician works inside the hub of a wind turbine rotor.
NREL

Windtechs must be able to use mechanical skills and be capable of climbing ladder systems, often 260 feet high, to heights of the turbine nacelle. During this climb they bring tools and equipment that weigh more than 45 pounds, and in most cases, use climb assist equipment to get up the turbine quicker. They must always exercise good judgement and be able to document their findings.

Education

Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools. Associate’s degree programs for wind turbine technicians usually take 2 years and are offered at technical schools and community colleges.

Internships and Apprenticeships

Windtechs receive more than 12 months of on-the-job-training, in addition to coursework. Part of this may be an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.

Apprenticeships are another option offered by unions and individual contractors. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,200 hours of paid on-the-job-training, according to Department of Labor apprenticeship program standards. These apprenticeships focus on safety, first aid, CPR training, electrical, hydraulic and mechanical system maintenance, and more.

To enter an apprenticeship program, workers must be at least 18 years of age; have earned a high school diploma; be physically and mentally able; and have 1 year of high school or equivalent algebra with at least a C average.

Now, are you ready to join the fastest growing job in the country?