Starting A Career In Renewable Energy: Degrees, Job Titles, Geography & Gender

Starting A Career In Renewable Energy: Degrees, Job Titles, Geography & Gender

woman sprinter in starting position symbolizing the starting of a renewable energy career

We’ve Seen This Race Before.

For 10 years Dayaway Careers has been helping college students get into renewable energy and cleantech.  Think about that; you likely were in middle school ten years ago!  Unsurprisingly, this time has produced tons of friendships, connections and spectacular data.  The data reveals relationships between degrees, job titles, industry sectors, geography and gender. These relationships do not predict employment outcomes perfectly.  For example, we just love the outliers, the chemistry dude who becomes a financial analyst or the policy wonk who was a philosophy major.  But, the data have helped many young professionals know the odds for and against getting specific jobs and the jobs most likely available for them.  Hopefully, the following insights help you.

The Cities and Sectors Where Young Professionals in Renewable Energy Work.

Three states account for almost 50% of our network:  California, New York and Massachusetts.  Who does not love Boston, NYC and the Bay Area, right 🙂  But this means we have over 1000 people working in lots of other very cool venues like Chicago, Austin, Denver (Boulder/Golden), Portland, etc.  So while many students will not find an awesome clean energy job or internship in their college town, they have plenty of options in many great venues.  But make no mistake, most students will have to “hit the road” to find a clean energy job that meets their interests and qualifications.


The more mature sectors that now are scaling, especially solar, wind and energy efficiency, employ the greatest number of recent graduates in sustainable energy and complementary clean-tech sectors.  For example, companies like GE Renewables, EDF Renewables, Sunpower and ICF International list new entry level jobs at least every week.   That said, companies in sectors like energy storage (Stem), electric vehicles & charging (Tesla & ChargePoint) and smart-grid (Enernoc) are coming on strong.  So, there are lots of sector possibilities although some are more plentiful than others.  renewable energy careers by industry

Companies in the more mature sectors tend to hire more business, managerial and project administrative talent given their focus on sales, sales, sales.   Alternatively, the younger sector companies, because they still are developing/launching their products, seem to look a bit more for STEM talent.  Consulting firms are a great way for fresh grads to taste-test different sectors, and consulting firms –from the bigs like Accenture and McKinsey to the boutiques like E3 and Make— increasingly are growing practices in clean energy and clean-tech.

The Degrees and Job Titles of Young Professionals in Renewable Energy

40% of our community (BS/MS/MBA/PhD) have a degree in engineering, with EE and ME dominating.   The majority of engineers go into a role specifically requiring an engineering degree (e.g., Battery Test Engineer, Bioenergy Process Engineer, etc.).  However, it is not uncommon to see engineers go into financial or general business roles because employers love their quantitative training.  Students in the “non-engineering” category have completed a wide range of degrees from Political Science and Economics to Chemistry, Accounting and Mathematics.  While it is reckless to generalize about the non-engineering majors, one observation is safe to pass along.  Specifically, the roles most commonly offered to non-engineering majors (environmental science, business, economics, etc.) are project management, business development and analyst roles.  The most common areas of study for our undergraduate degree holders are as follows:

renewable energy careers by major35% of our people have or are acquiring a graduate degree.  Some of these people could not have gotten their jobs without a graduate degree.  Some use their grad degree to satisfy the experience requirement for a job only requiring a BS/BA degree.  Approximately 24% have an MBA or are in B school.  Less than 5% of our community are PhDs.   So collectively, this means that there will always be someone out there who has been in your exact shoes a few years ago. It will never be too early or too late to enter in the renewable energy field, and the Dayaway network will make certain that you’re connected with the right people in the right organizations.

Job Titles

The data tells us, unmistakably, that specific degrees and majors have an inside track for specific jobs.  Chemistry and chemical engineering majors are the first choice for bioenergy research jobs and finance majors are preferred for project finance roles.  While there are plenty of exceptions, it is wise for students to know the odds, to know which jobs are the best fit for their major.  Therefore, when you see a job title, be sure to distinguish between the experience/seniority words (e.g., assistant, associate, manager) and the functional words (like business development or project finance).  The functional words identify the jobs that correlate (or not) with your major.  So, pay attention to the correlation between job titles and education/skill requirements in written job descriptions.  Or even better, use the degree and major filters in our job board to find jobs tagged for specific degrees and majors.

Here are the more common job titles we see (functional job title words in bold)

Battery Engineer/Scientist
Business Development Analyst/Associate/Manager/Engineer
Data Analyst/Specialist/Scientist
Energy Engineer/Specialist/Consultant/Analyst
Finance Analyst/Manager/Associate
Investment Analyst/Associate
Marketing Analyst/Associate/Manager/Engineer/Director
Operations Associate/Manager/Director
Product Manager/Engineer/Development Engineer
Program Coordinator/Analyst/ Associate/Manager/Director
Project Developer/Manager/Engineer
Project Finance Analyst/Associate/Manager/Director
Research Associate/Scientist/Analyst/Manager/Director


The vast majority of our college graduates have just started climbing the clean energy career ladder.  20% are in school, and the balance are 2012 to 2018 graduates.  Consequently, we see lots of analysts, specialists, coordinators and early stage managers.  That said, 7 members are CEOs, 264 are senior employees and directors and 40 are VPs at renewable energy organizations.  But the cool point here is that all of these people as well as graduates over the next few years will be part of the energy ruling class because they are getting in on the ground floor of a sea change in the energy field!

Early Stage Women Professionals in Renewable Energy

So first the bad news.  Women constitute only 31% of the young renewable energy professionals in our data base.  We can’t say for sure that this percentage represents the industry as a whole, but we think it does.  This is just plain wrong.   Meritocracy and equal opportunity are non-negotiable, especially for a scaling industry that needs the best and brightest.  Dayaway will continue to work hard to help young women professionals even the scales.

Of the 549 women in our data base,  11% have a graduate degree (M.S./M.A.) and 31% of our graduate degree profiles are women.   16% of our women profiles have an MBA and 19% of our MBAs are women (this is hard to believe).   The top undergraduate majors are:   Environmental Science/Studies/Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, International Relations/Business, Chemical Engineering and Economics .  The most popular industries women work in are as depicted below.   Graduate degrees were distributed fairly equally across all areas of study and tracked the industry distribution below.

Industry % Women
Bio-energy 12
Consulting 19
Energy-Efficiency 13
Energy-Storage 9
Gov-NGO 7
Smart-Grid 9
Solar 22
Solar-Wind 9


Start Talking to the People Who Are in the Game and Can Help You.

As you can seek, we’re well connected. And, we know exactly to whom we are connected.  So use us to get connected to the people who can help you.  Here are the first four steps you should take:

  1. Read our Insights articles (3 minute reads) to learn about the basics – internships, networking, interviewing, etc.
  2. Use the Entry Level Renewable Energy Jobs board to find jobs and internships for your degree and major.  The filters also will enable you to target specific states, companies and industries.
  3. Subscribe to our Listserv to get a weekly email summarizing the week’s new job postings and newest Insight post (and because you’re too busy/lazy to always do 1 and 2 above 🙂
  4. See if you qualify to use our Zero-In networking platform.  This will greatly speed up your use of Linkedin to connect with young professionals in renewable energy who can help you get in the game.