The field of Wind Energy is a fairly new industry in the United States and Canada. Because of this, there is a great shortage of qualified workers who are needed to maintain, repair and upgrade the many turbine towers being constructed all over North America. While this is an excellent career opportunity for many people, the biggest problem they face is finding a training program where they can get the education and certification they need. Many institutes of higher learning are still catching up to the Wind Energy trend, and are just now beginning to offer programs that specialize in wind turbine maintenance and repair.
The schools that do offer programs specific to wind turbine technicians tend to fall into one of two categories: a trade school, or a community college. Most of these schools can be found in the Midwest portion of the United States, as that is where most of the turbine towers (and the jobs) are located. The best of these programs receive the American Wind Energy Association Seal of Approval, are listed below.
Texas State Technical College - This program was one of the pilot recipients of the AWEA seal of approval. Recently, this school formed a partnership with Texas Tech University to form the Texas Wind Energy Institute, where you can receive any level of degree. Start with a Wind Energy Technician Certification, and if you want work your way up to a PhD. in Wind Science and Engineering.
Iowa Lakes Community College - Another recipient of the AWEA Pilot Seal of Approval, Iowa Lakes Community College has built a reputation as one of the most well-known Wind Energy and Turbine Technology programs in the country. The program was started in 2004 by Al Zeitz, who was hired away from General Electric Co. A two-year associates degree program gives you the hands on experience you need to hit the ground running after you graduate.
Columbia Gorge Community College - Located along the Columbia River in The Dalles Oregon, CGCC offers a 9-month certificate and a 2-year Associates' Degree in Renewable Energy Technology. This program was also a pilot recipient of the AWEA Seal of Approval.
Laramie County Community College - LCCC is located in Cheyenne Wyoming, and offers two different Associates' Degree in Wind Energy Technology: one in Science for those who want to further their academic career, and one in Applied Science for those who want to enter the workforce as a technician.
Cloud County Community College - This Kansas college offers the most diversity in Wind Energy Technology degrees and certificates. Each program is targeted to a specific real-world job function, such as blade repair or site assessment and development. Find the right concentration for your specific job goals at CCCC.
Lake Region State College - LRSC takes a unique perspective with its Wind Energy Technology program. Students can take the traditional route and earn a two-year Associates' Degree, or they can enroll in the "1+1" program, which allows you to complete a one year certificate program, and complete the second year of your education as you enter the workforce as an entry-level technician.
Kalamazoo Valley Community College - The Wind Turbine Technician Academy at KVCC offers a 26 week certification program that is specifically focused on the job skills necessary to become a wind energy technician. Graduates of the program will be certified BZEE Wind Turbine Technicians. The BZEE certification is offered by the Renewable Energy Education Center, which is recognized internationally as the premier training provider for Wind Turbine Technicians in Europe and North America.
These are the schools leading the charge in the wind energy industry. As the years progress, expect many more schools to begin to offer programs in this discipline. However, only institutions with the AWEA Seal of Approval should be considered, as a degree or certificate from one of these programs is your best chance at getting a job as a technician after you graduate.
UPDATE: The AWEA has discontinued the Seal of Approval program, but we are going to continue to recommend high quality wind energy programs as we learn more about them.
Northeastern Junior College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Wind Energy Technology (A.A.S.). The program covers electrical, mechanical and hydraulic fundamentals, specializing in electrical troubleshooting and programmable logic controllers (PLC’s). Northeastern Junior College is located in Northeastern Colorado surrounded by eleven wind companies and over a thousand Megawatts of wind production within a hundred mile radius. Northeastern Junior College is a two instructor program with seven years of up tower field experience.