5 renewable energy careers for STEM graduates

01 Aug 2022


Join a burgeoning industry as we take a look at 5 renewable energy careers for STEM graduates.

Turn your passion for STEM into a force for good with these green energy careers of the future.

Energy production is changing rapidly. As we continue to understand the ongoing effects of climate change, the demand for renewable energy is increasing by the year. A recent McKinsey report suggests that by 2050, 80-90% of the world’s energy will come from renewable sources like solar and wind. It means that, for today’s STEM students, a career in renewable energy is a bright one.

As renewables become the norm, entire industries are shifting and demand for skilled workers will continue to grow. Clean Energy Council reports that by 2035 there will be an estimated additional 19,000 Australian jobs within the renewable energy sector. For graduates now and in the future, there’ll be endless opportunities to find work that makes a positive impact on the planet. With that in mind, let’s look at five great renewable energy careers for STEM graduates:

By 2035 there will be an estimated additional 19,000 Australian jobs within the renewable energy sector.”

1. Electrical engineer

A broad spectrum of specific jobs fall under the umbrella of ‘electrical engineer’. You could theoretically work in any of the emerging renewable electricity fields, including hydro, solar, geothermal or even nuclear power. Electrical engineers are integral to the success of renewable efforts, designing and developing new and more effective technologies from energy production and distribution to the way that consumers store and use electricity.  

Electrical engineering is a great career choice for students with a passion for Maths and Physics.

What to study?

Electrical engineering is taught at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level. For undergrad, the University of Sydney offers a Bachelor of Engineers (Honours Electrical Engineering) with an ATAR requirement of 92. RMIT offers an entry-level pathway to further study with the Advanced Diploma of Engineering Technology – Electrical, requiring only year 12 graduation.

At high school, consider Maths tuition and Physics tuition to improve chances of gaining a place at university level.

2. Chemical engineer

Renewable energy is a complex, multifaceted web of industries and jobs. While electrical engineers will be important in the future, so too will chemical engineers. Areas like hydrogen fuel rely heavily on the expertise of chemical engineers in creating more effective energy production processes and treating chemical byproduct waste. Chemical engineers are also vital in for their insight into water quality and treatment in relation to energy sources such as hydroelectricity, and understanding how current and future energy production affects variables such as soil and air quality. Chemical engineers of all types will be vitally important to ongoing renewable energy efforts.

Chemical engineering is a logical choice for high school students with an aptitude for Chemistry.

What to study?

Courses in chemical engineering are available at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. For school leavers, consider applying for courses such as Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Chemical) at the University of New South Wales.

At high school, consider Maths tuition and Chemistry tuition.

3. Software developer

The shift to renewable energy represents a truly titanic logistical effort. In order to coordinate energy production techniques, distribution efforts and storage, complex software is required. Software developers with a focus on renewable energy might create new ways to monitor energy production, output capacity and system health. The truth is that, in order to achieve lofty renewable goals, technology needs to continue to advance. With the rise in remote and unmanned production sites, software developers will play a vital role in growing energy production in the future.

What to study?

Consider IT-focused courses such as the University of Sydney’s Bachelor of Advanced Computing. Students can also begin with basic programming courses at TAFE level, or take a more nuanced approach with tailored, postgraduate study like the Master of Software Engineering at The University of Melbourne.

4. Robotics engineer

 As we mentioned in the previous point on software development, automation is going to become increasingly important to energy production. It means that robotics professionals will be in demand. All aspects of the renewable energy cycle will require robotics, from the manufacturing of complex equipment such as solar panels and batteries, to remotely-operated production facilities. Ultimately, across all facets of energy production, robots can offer a level of precision and durability that humans are unable to provide.

What to study?

Prospective robotics engineers should consider studying a Bachelor of Robotics and Mechatronics engineering at Monash University, which includes a focus on artificial intelligence and automation.

5. Energy analyst

If you’re most comfortable with numbers and statistics, there’s  a great career in renewable energy waiting for you. Renewable energy analysts seek to understand the wealth of data produced in energy production across its full lifecycle. That can include analysing energy use data, developing energy models for new developments, advising on energy consumption and providing data for producers, installers and many other roles in the chain. Analysts are the number crunchers that can ultimately advise on how best to use energy, how effective production methods are, and where improvements can be made.

What to study?

Those looking for a career in energy-related data analysis can start with undergraduate study, such as the Bachelor of Data and Decisions at UNSW. Specialised postgraduate courses include the Master of Data Science at the University of Melbourne.

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