How to Become an Energy Engineer


Career Path Guide

To become an energy engineer, you need to complete an engineering degree (in a field such as petroleum engineering or energy engineering), or a graduate degree in a relevant field of science (such as chemistry, environmental science or renewable energy).


Just as importantly, you'll need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following sounds like you, then you are likely well suited for it:


• You have above-average abilities in science and mathematics

• You enjoy the idea of working on the cutting edge of technology

• You are committed to staying up to date with technological innovations

• You are able to visualize complex technical and scientific processes

• You have the ability to manage budgets, projects and people

• You have general commercial awareness, including an understanding of the energy market


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get into this line of work. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as salary expectations, an outline of the skills you’ll need, educational requirements, a list of possible employer types, and much more!



Education Needed to Become an Energy Engineer

To become an energy engineer, you'll need an engineering degree, or a graduate degree in a relevant area of science. Relevant subjects could include:


• Chemical engineering

• Electrical engineering

• Energy engineering

• Environmental engineering

• Environmental sciences

• Mining or petroleum engineering

• Renewable or sustainable energy





What is an Energy Engineer?

The term 'energy engineer' is a blanket term for engineering professionals that work in a variety of roles related to the production of energy and fuel, including:


• Designing and testing machinery

• Developing ways to improve existing processes

• Converting, transmitting and supplying useful energy


Depending on whether they focus on existing or new sources of energy and fuel, energy engineers may be involved the production of energy through natural resources, such as the extraction of oil and gas, or from renewable or sustainable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power. 



General Job Description

Energy engineers are responsible for finding efficient, clean and innovative ways to supply energy. Their ultimate goal is to make our energy sources sustainable.


As truly sustainable energy requires the innovative integration of renewable energy technologies into existing infrastructure, along with vastly improved efficiencies in non-renewable energy use, the work of energy engineers may involve working to find ways to improve the efficiency of existing energy products and systems, or it may involve discovering, researching, designing and implementing new energy products and systems. 


Energy engineers may be involved in working with the following types of energy sources:


• Oil

• Coal

• Natural gas

• Nuclear

• Wind

• Solar

• Geothermal

• Hydropower

• Biomass 



Typical Duties of the Job

Although the specific duties of energy engineers can vary, they are generally responsible for the following:


• Applying engineering principles in the research, development, design and improvement of fuel sources

• Preparing detailed estimates of work, and estimated project costs and timelines

• Using mathematical and computer models to carry out design and specification calculations

• Designing and selecting equipment

• Monitoring new technologies or applications, and developing performance indicators

• Keeping up to date with relevant legislation and ensure systems and processes comply

• Carrying out lab experiments and adapting them to large-scale industrial processes

• Using computer aided design (CAD) applications to convert design specifications into drawings and renderings

• Liaising and negotiating with fuel providers, specialist contractors, geologists and other relevant organizations

• Giving presentations to managers and clients



Who Creates Jobs for Energy Engineers?

Energy engineers may find part-time, full-time or contractual employment with organizations that research, develop and implement smart technologies for power generation and distribution, and efficient energy generation and conversion.


Jobs for these engineers typically exist in the oil and gas industry, as well as with energy production companies. They may also find research-based work with non-profit or for-profit research firms, as well as with government agencies and universities.


The renewable energy industry is typically regarded as an area of growth, due to increased interest in environmental issues, an increasing demand for energy, as well as changes in legislation regarding the production of energy. These factors, combined with breakthroughs in technology, imply that a wider variety of roles will exist for energy engineers in the future.



Licensing Requirements

Although licensing requirements can vary by region and by employer, energy engineers generally require licensure as professional engineers. Those who become licensed carry the designation of professional engineer (PE). To be licensed as a professional engineer, you generally need to meet the following requirements:


• A degree from an accredited engineering program

• A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam

• Relevant work experience

• A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam





Skills Needed to Become an Energy Engineer

Successful energy engineers have a variety of analytical and hands-on skills for designing, building, operating and enhancing sustainable energy products and systems. They also have general business and communication, which allow them to work effectively with team members and within the industry as a whole. These skills typically include:


• Excellent mathematical and computer skills

• The ability to visualize complex processes

• The ability to be very precise in work and calculations

• Able to order information logically and clearly so others can follow their information and instructions

• Knowledge of 3D software such as AutoCAD

• General commercial awareness, including an understanding of the energy market

• The ability to manage projects, budgets and people

• Knowledge of relevant legislation surrounding energy efficiency and carbon emissions

• Foreign language skills can be an asset



Characteristics of Successful Energy Engineers

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an energy engineer, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your job duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which can lead to having a long and successful career. These traits include:


• Enjoy the idea of being on the cutting edge of science and technology

• Enjoy the idea of performing innovative work

• Creativity and persistence in work activities

• Respect for safety and the environment

• Proactive approach to develop solutions for emerging problems 

• Able to work effectively with other professionals, such as geoscientists, mechanical engineers and electrical engineers



Average Salary Level

The salary level of energy engineers can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• The size and type of their employer

• The region in which they work

• Their level of education and experience

• The specific responsibilities of their job

• The type of energy they are working on


There is no salary information available from reliable sources specifically for the career Energy Engineer. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations.


Energy Engineer Salary - Canada: According to the 2018 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the Electrical Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $98,528 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (July 1, 2019).


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers in the Electrical and Electronics Engineers occupational group earn a median salary of $89,630 per year. 



Current Job Opportunities

Our job board below has 'energy engineer' postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Career Advancement Possibilities

New graduates that choose to become energy engineers typically begin their careers by working under the supervision of energy engineers that are more experienced in the field. As more experience and knowledge is gained, junior-level engineers typically take on projects of increasing levels of difficulty or responsibility, which is usually accompanied by a higher salary level, and may involve having to relocate for work or change employers.


The energy industry is one with great diversity and much room for growth. In this field, there are a multitude of opportunities to move into different areas of work in order to gain new skills and experience, or to take on leadership roles to influence strategy and growth.


For example, energy engineers may move on to become specialists in a certain area, or may supervise a team of engineers or technicians. They may also move into other areas, such as corporate social responsibility, technical sales or executive management.


There are also opportunities for energy engineers to join the growing number of environmental consultancies, become self-employed, or move into the education field to become a lecturer in the field of energy engineering.



Careers Similar to This in Our System

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to 'energy engineer', as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


• Electrical Engineer

• Energy Auditor

• Energy Efficiency Engineer

• Energy Policy Analyst 

• Nuclear Engineer




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an energy engineer.


Occupations in Alberta:Petroleum Engineer.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

Publications:Engineers: Employment, pay, and outlook.” Elka Torpey (February, 2018). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

Job Profile:Energy Engineer.” AGCAS editors (December, 2017). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 13, 2019.

Explore Careers: Energy Engineers.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved November 13, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming an Energy Engineer

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming an energy engineer can be found on our All Scholarships by Major page, by finding the pages that correspond to the majors listed on our "Relevant Fields of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those pages will be suitable.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an energy engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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