Renewable energy is an increasing concern for many companies, both due to evolving government regulations and a greater awareness of the impact a business can have on the environment. Renewable energy engineers apply the principles of engineering to this cause, which often includes designing new energy systems and providing consulting services to companies to offer plans on how they might improve.
According to a salary survey conducted by the Association of Energy Engineers, the average base salary of energy engineers in the United States was $96,683 as of January 2011, a figure that does not include bonuses, overtime or any wages earned from secondary employment. Salaries ranged from $30,000 to $130,000 a year. The average bonus total for energy engineers was $7,356, and although the majority of respondents reported receiving no bonus, some reported bonuses exceeding $50,000.
The majority of environmental engineers, including renewable energy engineers, worked in the industry of architectural, engineering and related services as of 2010, earning a salary average of $86,310 a year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those providing management and scientific consulting services earned an average of $82,620 a year, and those employed by the federal executive branch earned an average of $97,080. Local and state governments also employed these engineers for average salaries of $76,310 and $69,260, respectively.
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The bureau reports that the highest concentration of jobs for environmental engineers, including renewable energy engineers, was in Wyoming, where 1.22 were employed per every 1,000 jobs. The average salary there was $72,700 as of 2010. Utah was the top paying state for these engineers with a salary average of $110,650 a year, followed by Alabama with an average of $100,540 and the District of Columbia with an average of $99,940.
Although requirements may vary based on the employer, most renewable energy engineers must possess a bachelor’s degree for entry-level work. The Association of Energy Engineers offers the REP, or Renewable Energy Professional, certification, which requires a four-year degree in engineering, architecture, science or business, a two-year technical degree along with five years of experience in renewable energy or no degree with a total of 10 years of experience in the field. Certification requires passing an examination that covers subjects including solar and wind energy, bio-mass, waste conversion and ocean thermal energy.