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What do I need to study in college to get into a career involving renewable energy?

I am interested in the renewable energy sector because I think it will be the next big thing given how the US government is actively invested with new legislation. I want to help develop the technology to capture renewable energy; however, I don't know what to major in. If you can, could you also share how difficult this field is to get into and are there things that I should keep in mind.

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Tyler’s Answer

A lot of good options here in other answers, but I do want to add the university I went to had an Energy Engineering degree path. I'm sure that's offered at many universities and would set you apart as having the specialty background to work in that field. I know some friends that even double-majored in Energy Engineering and Mechanical Engineering so they have a broad skillset that would qualify them for a lot of different jobs if they didn't actually like working in the energy field.
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Ravi’s Answer

To get into a career involving renewable energy, there are several areas of study you can pursue in college. Some of the most popular fields include:

Renewable Energy Engineering: This program teaches the skills necessary to design, develop, and maintain renewable energy systems, such as wind turbines and solar panels. It typically includes courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, electrical engineering, and materials science.

Environmental Science: This program teaches the science of the environment, including climate change, pollution, and sustainability. It includes courses in ecology, environmental policy, and resource management.

Sustainability: This program teaches sustainable development and sustainable business practices, as well as the economic, social, and environmental implications of renewable energy.

Energy Policy and Management: This program teaches the political, economic, and regulatory frameworks of the energy industry. It includes courses in energy law, energy economics, and energy policy.

Business Administration: This program teaches the skills necessary to manage a renewable energy company, including finance, marketing, and management.

Computer Science: This program teaches the skills necessary to develop software and control systems for renewable energy systems. It includes courses in programming, algorithms, and data analysis.

It is important to note that many careers in renewable energy may require additional certifications or specialized training beyond a college degree. Additionally, internships or other hands-on experiences can be extremely valuable in gaining practical skills and industry knowledge.
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Jessica’s Answer

Ching,
I think renewable energy is a great industry to be interested in. You can do a bit more research on which major based on looking at job descriptions you like and what degree they are seeking. You can also conduct informational interviews with people doing work you think you'd like.
You can visit campuses that have programs you like and see what graduate outcomes are.
Some majors to keep in mind may include the words "renewable or clean energy" "sustainability" "engineering (environmental engineering)".
I hope this helps!
Jessica
Thank you comment icon I am really grateful you took the time to answer this question. Ching
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ARIF’s Answer

Mechanical engineers are mostly focused towards energy sources. For example, designing wind/water turbines, photovoltaics etc. Other than that, electrical engineering, material engineering also deals with renewable energy.
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Marcelo’s Answer

Ching, if you're interested in developing the technology to capture renewable energy, there are several majors that can help prepare you for a career in this field. Here are a few options to consider:

Electrical Engineering: This major focuses on the study of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. Electrical engineers are responsible for designing, developing, and testing electrical systems and devices, including those used in renewable energy systems.

Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical engineering involves the design, development, and testing of mechanical systems and devices. This major can be a good fit for those interested in the design and development of wind turbines, hydropower systems, and other types of renewable energy technology.

Environmental Engineering: This major focuses on the application of engineering principles to protect the environment and improve sustainability. Environmental engineers can work on the development of renewable energy systems, as well as the mitigation of environmental impacts associated with energy production.

Materials Science and Engineering: This major involves the study of the properties and behavior of materials. Materials science and engineering can be particularly relevant for the development of advanced materials used in renewable energy systems, such as photovoltaic cells and batteries.

As for the difficulty of getting into the field of renewable energy, it can be a competitive field due to the high demand for skilled professionals. However, there are many opportunities available for those with the right skills and experience. To improve your chances of success, it's important to gain practical experience through internships, co-op programs, or volunteer work. You can also participate in relevant clubs or organizations, attend industry events, and network with professionals in the field.

Finally, it's important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in renewable energy. This can help you identify emerging opportunities and stay competitive in the job market. By keeping these things in mind, you can increase your chances of success in the field of renewable energy.

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Abraham’s Answer

Hi Ching, I agree with previous answers that you should look into Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Engineering or Materials Science and Engineering.
If you have passion for physics, engineering and computer science that should be a great place to go to develop your career in a very demanded technology for today and the coming years.
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Peter’s Answer

Answers already offered by others here are great; allow me to add, though, Civil Engineering as a major in which key skills and perspectives of any large project are inherent in the study of the field. Visualizing a large capital project in terms of required resources, risk identification, community and environmental impact, are all among the reasons why I pivoted from Nuclear Engineering to Civil Engineering as an undergraduate – because at that time, it was noted that the net order rate for new U.S. nuclear generating plants had gone negative, more being canceled than initiated. I figured that whatever the root source of the energy, working on "energy projects" would be aided by a CivE degree.

Of interest may be the observation that my own school's department was at that time called simply Civil Engineering, but has since changed its name to Civil and Environmental Engineering (http://catalog.mit.edu/subjects/1/): I recall a conversation with my department head, during my undergrad years, when he said that it had been a professional failing of the field that lawyers rather than Civil Engineers had become associated as the discipline of environmental accountability and advocacy. He's no longer with us, so I can't confirm it, but I have no doubt that he took pride in the evolution of the department's scope.
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Jenny’s Answer

Business path is a great way to start until you decide what you want as your major. I would look into any courses related to circular economy. There are many paths for renewable careers like wind energy. I would talk to your counselor about degrees associated with renewable energy careers.
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