- What do energy engineers do?
- Energy engineer career path
- Energy engineer salaries
- Qualifications & training
- Energy engineer skills
- Pros and cons of being a energy engineer
- Work-life balance for an energy engineer
- Typical employers hiring energy engineers
- Related jobs to energy engineer
- More information
Do you have a passion for engineering? Does the way we power everything we use in our daily lives intrigue you? If you want to use your interest in engineering to make energy through either renewable or non-renewable methods, being an energy engineer could be perfect for you.
Are you interested in energy engineering? Explore the jobs in the energy and infrastructure sector available right now.
What does an energy engineer do?
Energy engineers work on the types of energy that we use in our daily lives. This is anything from oil to solar power. They design, research and build the facilities that make energy. The types of energy that you could specialise in include nuclear, wind, oil, hydropower and many other forms of energy.
Despite the type of power you specialise in, here are the activities that you may do in your daily life:
- Research types of energy and the best way to harness it
- Conduct experiments in laboratories to make sure any new methods you come up with work well and are safe to use
- Design new ways of producing power or how you can improve the current systems
- Review site locations for new power plants, weighing up the pros and cons of building the power station there
- Manage the building of the site, making sure it fits with your requirements and recommendations
- Liaise with environmental specialists, making sure the plant doesn’t flout any safety or policy regulations
Energy engineer career path
As an energy engineer, you work for energy companies, providing new solutions for them and building new power plants. Here are the levels you could work in during your career as an energy engineer:
When beginning your career, you work as a junior energy engineer. Since this is an entry-level position, it’s about learning how to work well as an energy engineer and gaining the skills and experience that you need to succeed later in your career. In this role, you assist the more senior members of the energy engineering team, calculating the efficiency of projects and working on other less hands-on work to complete.
As a mid-level energy engineer, you are responsible for your own projects. You may work in a team to collaboratively design new power plants and discuss your progress with your team members in meetings. You manage a budget that you’re set for your work, making sure your designs don’t go over budget and negotiating a higher budget if they do.
After years of experience in the role, you become a senior energy engineer. This progression comes with an increase in responsibility and freedom. Your job now includes overseeing the work that junior members of the team do and training junior energy engineers when they start working. You make sure that all the work in the team is conducted to a high standard and to the level that you expect.
Beyond this, you could move into a more managerial role like engineering manager. In this role, you’re responsible for assigning work to the engineers in the team and report on the work that’s going on to more senior colleagues in the organisation.
Energy engineer salaries
Working as an energy engineer gives you the opportunity to reach high levels in an organisation. Here are the salary levels that you might expect as an energy engineer:
- As an entry-level position, junior energy engineers earn £35,000 per year on average
- Mid-level energy engineers earn £37,000 per year on average
- As a senior energy engineer, you earn £50,000 per year on average
- At a senior level, very experienced energy engineers working on high profile cases could earn as much as £100,000 per year
Do you want to know more? Read this overview of engineering salaries.
Qualifications and training
Getting your dream job in energy engineering means setting yourself up well. Here is the education and experience that you need to succeed as an energy engineer:
Most energy engineering jobs require at least an undergraduate degree. This should be an engineering topic and have some focus on energy. Having a master’s degree isn’t usually a requirement for this role but having one can make you seem more desirable to a hiring manager and give you more specialised knowledge. If you completed a general engineering undergraduate degree, having a master’s degree in energy engineering gives you a headstart in the position over other candidates who aren’t specifically trained in energy engineering.
An alternative option is an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships can be gaining work experience with a specific company where you learn on the job skills and gain experience which is directly relevant to the job you’re going into. Some firms offer apprenticeships which are a combination of work in the firm and university education. With this type of apprenticeship, the firm often pays for your degree and you earn a salary for the work that you do for them. You can explore the current apprenticeships available with this government apprenticeship search tool.
Do you want to get into engineering but don’t like the idea of a degree? Learn how to get into engineering without a BEng.
Having relevant work experience gives you a headstart in the job market. Some degrees in engineering offer time in industry which is a few months, often during your third year of your course where you work for an engineering firm as a part of your degree. Having some work experience alongside this is a good idea and you can get this through an internship. Many top firms offer internships during the summer aimed at university students. You can explore the current internships available.
An alternative to searching for advertised internships is networking with existing employees in the company you want to work with. Here is some Bright advice for networking successfully. If you want to know more about options for you as a graduate, read this overview of engineering graduate schemes.
Energy engineer skills
Whilst engineering is a competitive industry to be in, combining the right skills, education and experience can help you secure a job. Here are the skills that you need to succeed as an energy engineer:
- Knowledge of energy processes. Whilst this may seem self explanatory, this is a massive requirement of the industry. Having a good understanding of how different types of energy are produced and the engineering processes behind this is really helpful for the role. Being able to demonstrate your understanding and speak eloquently about it will help you succeed in your interviews.
- Construction. Part of your job is understanding the construction process. Being able to discuss confidently how plants are constructed, and be knowledgeable in meetings and when visiting new builds, helps you show your expertise and seem professional.
- Planning. When designing aspects of a power plant, you need to do extensive planning. Thinking about minute details and having a detailed plan means the plant works well and is built without any hitches. However, you need to be prepared to think on your feet and amend your plans if something gets in the way of an area of your plan.
- Thinking outside the box. Working in energy engineering means coming up with ideas for plants and dealing with big construction issues. Being able to think outside the box and suggest solutions that other people might not think of is a great skill to have in any energy engineering role.
Do you want to know more? Here are some of the key skills and attributes that you need to get into engineering.
Pros and cons of being an energy engineer
Whilst the energy engineer role may combine your interest in energy with your passion for engineering, there are less favourable parts of the job that you should think about. Here are the positive and negative factors of an energy engineer role that you should consider before committing to the career path:
- You could contribute to new, clean energy which is great for the planet and will make your employers and any investors in the industry very happy.
- There is the potential to earn a lot of money when you reach high level jobs.
- The role involves some travel as you’re going to new sites and existing energy plants.
- You could progress non-sustainable energy sources which could be morally questionable
- Reaching the point where you’re qualified to be an energy engineer is difficult and requires high level knowledge.
- Whilst you don’t need education beyond an undergraduate degree, other people going for jobs that you apply for may have relevant master’s degrees meaning jobs are more competitive.
Work-life balance for an energy engineer
As an energy engineer, you typically work standard office hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. You may expect to work more than 40 hours in a week to meet your heavy workload.
In this role, most of your work is in an office, planning and making designs. However, since your work involves designing plants, some of your time will be going to the plants, inspecting them and making sure building work is going well to your plans. To do this, you’ll need to wear PPE like a hard hat and steel toe capped shoes. Since your work is partly investigatory, some of your time is in a lab conducting experiments and overseeing work to make sure your designs work well and are safe.
Typical employers hiring energy engineers
Many top energy companies need energy engineers to design new plants and work to make new energy solutions. These top companies often offer internships and entry-level opportunities to graduates to provide training and get the brightest people into the sector. Here are some of the top companies that you could work for:
If you want to know more, discover the leading graduate employers in engineering.
Related jobs to energy engineer
- Mechanical engineer
- Civil engineer
- Marine engineer
- Electrical engineer
- Environmental engineer
- Manufacturing engineer
Is engineering the right sector but you’re not sure about being an energy engineer? Take an in-depth look at the different types of engineering.
Are you tired of all the jargon? Read this guide to engineering terminology and turn yourself into an engineering dictionary!