Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wind Turbine Technicians

wind turbine technicians image
Wind turbine technicians visually inspect wind turbines for damage.
Quick Facts: Wind Turbine Technicians
2016 Median Pay $52,260 per year
$25.13 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Long-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2016 5,800
Job Outlook, 2016-26 96% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 5,500

Summary

What Wind Turbine Technicians Do

Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, 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 windtechs work full time, they may also be on call to handle emergencies during evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Wind Turbine Technician

Most wind turbine service technicians learn their trade by attending a technical school. They also receive on-the-job training.

Pay

The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians was $52,260 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of wind turbine service technicians is projected to grow 96 percent from 2016 to 2026, 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.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for wind turbine technicians.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of wind turbine technicians with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about wind turbine technicians by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Wind Turbine Technicians Do

wind turbine technicians image
Wind turbine technicians often monitor turbines from the ground.

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

Duties

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.

Work Environment

wind turbine technicians image
Wind turbine technicians often work at great heights.

Wind turbine technicians held about 5,800 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of wind turbine technicians were as follows:

Electric power generation 31%
Repair and maintenance 23
Self-employed workers 17
Utility system construction 15
Professional, scientific, and technical services 5

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 electricians, may be needed to complete the job quickly.

Work Schedules

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.

How to Become a Wind Turbine Technician

wind turbine technicians image
Wind turbine technicians receive on-the-job training from experienced workers.

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

Education

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

Training

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.

Important Qualities

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.

Pay

Wind Turbine Technicians

Median annual wages, May 2016

Wind turbine technicians

$52,260

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

$43,440

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians was $52,260 in May 2016. 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 $36,970, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,250.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for wind turbine technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Electric power generation $58,640
Utility system construction 50,190
Professional, scientific, and technical services 49,120
Repair and maintenance 48,800

The majority of wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, 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

Wind Turbine Technicians

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Wind turbine technicians

96%

Total, all occupations

7%

Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations

7%

 

Employment of wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, is projected to grow 96 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 5,500 new jobs over the 10-year period.

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 windtechs will be needed to install and maintain turbines.

Job Prospects

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

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

Employment projections data for wind turbine technicians, 2016-26

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Occupational Title

Wind turbine service technicians

SOC Code49-9081
Employment, 20165,800
Projected Employment, 202611,300
Percent Change, 2016-2696
Numeric Change, 2016-265,500
Employment by Industryemployment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of wind turbine technicians.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2016 MEDIAN PAY
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See How to Become One $55,920
Electricians

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Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $52,720
Elevator installers and repairers

Elevator Installers and Repairers

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High school diploma or equivalent $78,890
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration and mechanics and installers

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR) technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Postsecondary nondegree award $45,910
Industrial machinery mechanics and maintenance workers

Industrial Machinery Mechanics, Machinery Maintenance Workers, and Millwrights

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

High school diploma or equivalent $49,100
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry liquids or gases to, from, and within businesses, homes, and factories.

High school diploma or equivalent $51,450

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Wind Turbine Technicians,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/wind-turbine-technicians.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

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