Clean Energy Industry Helps America’s Veterans Find Meaningful Work
In 2019 alone, experts estimate that roughly 200,000 men and women will transition from active duty to civilian life. Many of these military veterans will be on the job hunt as they re-adjust to “normal” life outside of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. They’ll have to find jobs – something they enjoy doing, where they feel a sense of pride and purpose.
As Military.com reports, a number of these veterans are looking for jobs where they can be outdoors and perform physically active work as part of a team. The desire for hands-on experience, combined with the skills they’ve acquired from serving in the military, make them an ideal fit for the clean energy industry.
Why Military Veterans Are Ideal for Clean Energy Jobs
Aside from performing physical work, clean energy employees need discipline – as many will be executing their individual duties in the field. They may install solar panels, service wind turbines and operate heavy drilling machinery to tap into geothermal resources.
U.S. veterans have an unparalleled work ethic and have learned to be leaders in various roles. They’re reliable, physically fit, familiar with electronic and mechanical equipment, and have what it takes to persevere when faced with extraordinary obstacles.
Clean Energy Jobs are Rising Steadily
The clean energy sector has been growing steadily, and now outnumbers jobs in the fossil fuel industry by 3-to-1, according to E2’s 2019 Clean Jobs America report. Last year alone, the clean energy industry added more than 110,000 jobs, for a total of 3.26 million in the United States. And these jobs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) reports that the clean energy industry creates jobs about 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.
Today, veterans have a strong showing in the clean energy workforce – yet, there’s an enormous potential for future growth. The 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) indicates that veterans hold 9 percent of all U.S. energy jobs today — a figure that outpaces the national percentage of veterans in the workforce (6 percent). As clean energy jobs continue to grow, we can expect the percentage of veteran employees to escalate as well.
Wind Energy Jobs are Particularly Well-Suited for Veterans
Of all the clean energy specialties, veterans are ideal candidates for wind energy jobs. This field requires a fearless mentality, manual dexterity, mechanical aptitude, and a drive to get the job done in a timely fashion.
Wind energy professionals work outdoors, often at great heights. They learn their trade by attending a technical school and are trained on-site to perfect their turbine installation and maintenance techniques.
In 2018, wind energy jobs grew by nearly 4 percent, now employing more than 110,100 Americans. The Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that wind turbine service technicians were the second-fastest growing job last year. With a median annual wage of $54,370, these jobs are expected to grow another 57 percent from 2018 to 2028.
Texas leads the nation with wind energy jobs, employing more than 25,300 Americans. Illinois comes in second-highest, with just over 8,700 workers, followed by California with roughly 5,780 and Florida with 4,460 wind energy employees.
Despite the growing number of wind energy jobs, employers have indicated that they experience difficulty in hiring qualified workers. It’s one reason that new programs are being rolled out to help veterans find positions in wind power. For example, in 2018, Georgia-based Fort Benning launched a course to help prepare veterans of the U.S. Army to find competitive and well-paying careers in wind energy. The 28-day course helps “transition experienced soldiers to be civilians again with good-paying jobs,” says Fort Benning Deputy Garrison Commander George Steuber.
Clean Energy Jobs Help Strengthen Our National Security
The impact of climate change is a threat to our national and even international security. The destabilizing effects of storms, earthquakes, droughts and flooding all jeopardize our crucial infrastructure. At home, we’re faced with the challenges of disaster response times and capabilities. Overseas, the impact of climate change can intensify humanitarian catastrophes and lead to political violence. In addition, the military’s ability to transport and store energy also influences where troops and assets are deployed.
In fact, the national security advantages of renewable energy have been recognized for years by a number of parties – national security experts, U.S. Congress and senior officials at the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). In a brief released by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), by deploying clean energy technologies across America, we can:
- Reduce our reliance on global fuel supplies
- Strengthen and improve the reliability of our grid
- Create smaller, decentralized power generation
- Harness bountiful resources, from wind to solar, in nearly every region
- Build rapidly deployable energy systems that can be brought online much quicker than traditional power plants
By constructing more modern energy systems that utilize clean, sustainable energy, not only will we help fight climate change and strengthen our national security, but we’ll be putting thousands of veterans to work. America’s heroes returning home deserve to find rewarding employment that harnesses their strengths and helps them ease back into civilian life with purpose and pride.
If you or someone you know has served in the military and is now on the hunt for a job, consider a new career in clean energy! Start by creating your free professional profile on Clean Energy Jobs List, then search for opportunities in your area.