Wind Turbine Technician
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Salary Range: $40,000 to $59,999
Average Hourly: $ 27.03
Education: Postsecondary nondegree award
Number of Jobs: 6900
Jobs Added to 2029: 4700
Growth: Much faster than average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Wind Turbine Technicians Do
Wind turbine service technicians typically do the following:
- Inspect the exterior and physical integrity of wind turbine towers
- Climb wind turbine towers to inspect or repair wind turbine equipment
- Perform routine maintenance on wind turbines
- Test and troubleshoot electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems
- Replace worn or malfunctioning components
- Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis
- Service underground transmission systems, wind field substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems
Wind turbines are large mechanical devices that convert wind energy into electricity. The turbine is made up of three major components: a tower, three blades, and a nacelle, which is composed of an outer case, generator, gearbox, and brakes. Wind turbine service technicians install and repair the components of these structures.
Although some windtechs are involved in building new wind turbines, most of their work is in maintaining them, particularly the nacelles, which contain the equipment that generates electricity.
Maintenance schedules are largely determined by a turbine’s hours in operation, but can also vary by manufacturer. Turbines are monitored electronically from a central office, 24 hours a day. When a problem is detected, windtechs travel to the worksite and make the repairs. Typical maintenance includes inspecting components and lubricating parts. For turbines that operate year round, routine maintenance may occur one to three times a year.
Windtechs use safety harnesses and a variety of hand and power tools to do their work. They also use computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions. Most turbine monitoring equipment is located in the nacelle, which can be accessed both onsite and off.
Wind turbine service technicians generally work outdoors, in confined spaces, and often at great heights. Although the majority of windtechs work full time, they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends.
Work Environment Details
|Electric power generation||31%|
|Repair and maintenance||24|
|Utility system construction||17|
|Professional, scientific, and technical services||6|
Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, generally work outdoors, often at great heights and with a partner. For example, when repairing blades, windtechs rappel—or descend by sliding down a rope—from the nacelle to the section of the blade that needs servicing. To reach the mechanical equipment, workers must climb ladders—sometimes more than 260 feet tall—while wearing a fall protection harness and carrying tools. When maintaining mechanical systems, windtechs work in the confined space of the nacelle.
For major service or repairs, additional windtechs and other specialists, such as , may be needed to complete the job quickly.
Injuries and Illnesses
Wind turbine service technicians have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations.
Although the majority of windtechs work full time, they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends.
When a wind turbine is not functioning, technicians must find the problem and make the necessary repairs as quickly as possible.
Windtechs often travel to rural areas, where many wind farms are located.
Employment of wind turbine technicians is projected to grow 68 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 1,400 openings for wind turbine technicians are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Wind Turbine Technician
Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology, although some workers choose to earn an associate’s degree.
Many technical schools have onsite wind turbines that students can work on as part of their studies. In addition to lab coursework, other areas of focus that reflect the various skill sets needed to do the job include the following:
- Rescue, safety, first aid, and CPR training
- Electrical maintenance
- Hydraulic maintenance
- Braking systems
- Mechanical systems, including blade inspection and maintenance
- Computers and programmable logic control systems
In addition to their coursework, windtechs typically receive more than 12 months of on-the-job training related to the specific wind turbines they will maintain and service. Part of this training is manufacturer training. Other training may include an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Although not mandatory, professional certification can demonstrate a basic level of knowledge and competence. Some employers prefer to hire workers who are already certified in subjects such as workplace electrical safety, tower climbing, and self-rescue. There are many organizations who offer certifications in each of these subjects, and some certificate and degree programs include these certifications.
Communication skills. Windtechs rely on proper communication with their coworkers in order to perform their duties safely and effectively.
Detail oriented. Windtechs must maintain records of all of the services they perform. Turbine maintenance requires precise measurements, a strict order of operations, and numerous safety procedures.
Mechanical skills. Windtechs must understand and be able to maintain and repair all mechanical, hydraulic, braking, and electrical systems of a turbine.
Physical stamina. Windtechs must be able to climb to the tops of turbines, often with tools and equipment. Some tower ladders may be 260 feet high or taller.
Physical strength. Windtechs must lift heavy equipment, parts, and tools, some of which weigh in excess of 50 pounds.
Troubleshooting skills. Windtechs must diagnose and repair problems. When a turbine performs abnormally, technicians must determine the cause and make the necessary repairs.