Wind Turbine Technicians: Career, Salary and Education Information

Wind Turbine Technicians

  • What They Do: Wind turbine service technicians install, maintain, and repair wind turbines.
  • Work Environment: Wind turbine service technicians generally work outdoors, in confined spaces, and often at great heights. Although the majority of wind techs work full time, they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends.
  • How to Become One: Most wind turbine service technicians learn their trade by attending a technical school. They also receive on-the-job training.
  • Salary: The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians is $54,370.
  • Job Outlook: Employment of wind turbine service technicians is projected to grow 57 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because wind electricity generation is expected to grow rapidly over the coming decade, additional technicians will be needed to install and maintain new turbines. Job prospects are expected to be excellent.
  • Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of wind turbine technicians with similar occupations.
Following is everything you need to know about a career as a wind turbine service technician with lots of details. 

The Wind Turbine Technician is responsible for the operations, maintenance, QA/QC Inspections, commissioning and/or repair of wind turbine generators, and some solar PV installations and repair

What Wind Turbine Technicians Do

Wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, install, maintain, and repair wind turbines.

Duties of Wind Turbine Technicians

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 wind techs 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, wind techs 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.

How to Become a Wind Turbine Technician

Most wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, learn their trade by attending a technical school. They are also trained by their employer after hiring.

Education for Wind Turbine Technicians

Most wind techs 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

Wind Turbine Technician Training

In addition to their coursework, wind techs 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 for Wind Turbine Technicians

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 that offer certifications in each of these subjects, and some certificates and degree programs include these certifications.

Important Qualities for Wind Turbine Technicians

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 maybe 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.

Wind Turbine Technician Salaries

The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians is $54,370. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,780, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $83,560.

The median annual wages for wind turbine technicians in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services: $65,650
  • Electric power generation: $61,920
  • Repair and maintenance: $48,900
  • Utility system construction: $48,200
The majority of wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, work full time, and 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.

Job Outlook for Wind Turbine Technicians

Employment of wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, is projected to grow 57 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 3,800 new jobs over the 10-year period.

The development of taller towers with larger blades has reduced the cost of wind power generation, making it more competitive with coal, natural gas, and other forms of power generation. As additional wind turbines are erected, more wind techs will be needed to install and maintain turbines.

Job Prospects for Wind Turbine Technicians

Job prospects are expected to be excellent. The number of wind turbines being installed is increasing, which should result in the continuing demand for wind techs.

Job opportunities vary by individual state. Wind farms are generally more prevalent in the Great Plains, the Midwest, and along coasts, and wind techs will likely find more job opportunities in these areas.
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