Wind Turbine Technician: The Country’s Fastest Growing Profession

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Dan Boyce/Inside Energy

Student John Crothers examines a scale model of a wind turbine engine at the Ecotech Institute in Aurora, Colorado on Monday.

The wind industry is clearly growing. A new report from the American Wind Energy Association touts a record total of 88,000 jobs across the industry at the start of 2016, a 20-percent jump from a year ago. More wind power was added than any other US electricity source in 2015, beating out natural gas and solar.

Recently, Xcel Energy announced a proposal with wind company Vestas to build a 300 turbine project in eastern Colorado. It would be the state’s largest wind farm. The utility is not releasing further information until May, when the project is formally filed before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks wind turbine technician as the country’s fastest growing profession. These technicians scale the tall white towers in hard hats and climbing gear, making sure those power-generating blades are spinning just right.

“I look forward to climbing up 300 feet and working on something that’s critical,” said John Crothers, who is studying to be a turbine tech at the Ecotech Institute, a technical college in Aurora Colorado.

The number of wind turbine tech jobs is going to double in about the next eight years. But, the real numbers behind that are modest, jumping from 4,400 jobs to 9,200 by 2024.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of coal, oil and natural gas workers have been laid off in the last year.