- Types of technician
- What do technicians do?
- Technician career path
- Technician salaries
- Qualifications and training
- Technician skills
- Pros and cons of being a technician
- Technician work-life balance
- Typical employers hiring technicians
- Related jobs
- More information
Are you intrigued by where our energy comes from? Do you love tinkering to make sure contraptions work well? If you have a technical mind and want to put your skills towards a service that almost everyone in the UK benefits from, working as a technician in the energy sector could be perfect for you.
Types of technician
Since the energy industry is so varied, there are many types of energy that you can specialise in when working as a technician. For all technicians, regardless of the type of energy you work with, you’re responsible for assembling the hardware that makes the energy, maintaining it and troubleshooting it if any problems arise in the future. Here are the primary types of technician that you could work as:
- Solar energy technician
- Wind energy technician
- Geothermal energy technician
- Tidal energy technician
- Oil rig technician
What do technicians do?
As an energy technician, you’re responsible for the set up and maintenance of energy-producing hardware. Here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that you have as a technician:
- Learn about the requirements that a client has for the energy and recommend a number of energy-producing hardware that is necessary for the job.
- Go to the site and assemble the hardware for the client, following guidelines to make sure the hardware is set up properly without any risk to your own safety or the safety of clients if it were to become unstable.
- You go to sites and repair hardware.
- As an oil rig technician, you often live on an oil rig for several months, setting up and maintaining the equipment.
- Check how safe the systems are and whether any improvements can be made.
- Write maintenance reports on what you changed, why you changed it and whether any further action is required.
Technician career path
The career path for technicians in the energy sector are relatively similar but do vary between the type of energy you’re working with. Here is the standard career path for an energy technician:
Many technician careers begin with an installer role. This applies to solar, wind and geothermal energy. In this entry-level position, you’re responsible for the installation of the hardware, usually working with a colleague or under some supervision. Some companies offer the title “technician” or “assistant” rather than “installer” for entry-level positions, so be careful to read the job description carefully before applying to a job to make sure you know the particulars of the job.
When working as an oil rig technician, or offshore maintenance technician, you live offshore for several months at a time. Your work includes installing new equipment and testing it to make sure it works well with the existing technology. You write reports on the work you’re doing to keep yourself accountable and try to prevent problems from occurring in the future by being diligent.
The next step for many energy technician jobs is working as a service technician. For solar and wind energy, this is often separated in residential and commercial work. If you work in the residential department, you deal with installation and maintenance of systems on personal houses. If you work in the commercial department, you deal with larger scale installation, working with businesses and other organisations to set up their solar panels. Due to the increased energy requirement associated with companies over residential houses, commercial work often requires many more pieces of hardware to install so you might work with a larger team or even manage the team.
If you want to progress in the industry, you can become a fleet manager. In terms of solar or wind power, this refers to the number of solar panels or wind turbines that a company utilises for energy. You’re the energy representative for a company, monitoring the output and requesting maintenance when needed.
When working on an oil rig, if you decide that you’d like to move away from the technical side and more towards working with people, you can become an offshore installation manager. It’s your job to make sure that the work on an oil rig goes smoothly without any problems. This might mean speaking to your colleagues and making sure they’re happy with their work and trying to make changes to accommodate them if they’re not. You organise the activities and make sure everything fits with safety procedures.
- Entry-level solar technicians earn between £22,000 and £25,000 per year, whereas wind turbine technicians earn between £25,000 and £30,000 per year. Entry-level oil rig technicians earn between £18,000 and £25,000 per year.
- Mid-level solar, wind turbine and oil rig technicians can earn up to £40,000 per year.
- Senior jobs in the industry, primarily management positions, often offer higher salary levels. If you want to work as an offshore installation manager, you could earn anywhere between £30,000 and £80,000 per year depending on the size of the company and your expertise.
Qualifications and training
Having the right skills and education gives you a headstart in working in your dream technician job. Here is the education and training that you need for a technician’s job:
Most technician work doesn’t require a degree. You can get all the relevant skills and experience from other forms of education. However, having a degree in engineering could give you the option for working in higher paid jobs later on in your career.
One great option for working as an energy technician is an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships allow you to work with industry experts, learning about how to do the job often whilst earning a moderate salary for the work you do. If you’re interested in exploring the apprenticeships as an energy technician, you can use the government apprenticeship search tool.
Another option is having a college diploma in technician work. Unlike with apprenticeships, you don’t earn a wage when doing a diploma. You also don’t have the opportunity to network and make connections within the sector. Getting a diploma gives you the opportunity to combine theoretical knowledge with practical experience.
Alongside training through an apprenticeship, degree or diploma, you need safety and emergency training to work on an oil rig to make sure you understand safety procedures and how to make sure there is no additional risk.
Alongside education, you need the right skills to work well as a technician. Here are the skills you need to succeed:
- Maintenance skills. A basic requirement of all technician jobs is being able to maintain the hardware. This means understanding how the energy system works, what could possibly go wrong with it and how to fix it. You need to be able to fully assemble the hardware and troubleshoot it to find out what has gone wrong.
- Resilience. You need to be resilient to work as a technician. Some of your work will be completed outside under all conditions. This is particularly relevant to tidal energy and oil rigs. Being able to live and work on an oil rig requires skills of its own and making sure you’re happy with the lifestyle before you go and live on a rig will help you decide if it’s the right job for you.
- Critical thinking and problem solving. To figure out what’s wrong with hardware when you’re doing maintenance checks, you need to have good critical thinking skills and be great at solving problems.
- Teamwork. There may be many components to large energy production plants like geothermal, tidal and oil. Working collaboratively with your team helps you all complete the job efficiently. You should know the individual job that you have to do and how it fits in with the wider operation.
Pros and cons of being a technician
From what you’ve just read, you might decide that working as a technician in the energy sector is the perfect job for you. However, there are certain positive and negative factors that you should consider before committing to the career.
- Many technician jobs include some travel when going to potential construction sites where you build or maintain the equipment. Traveling can be a fun part of the job that shows you different parts of the country.
- You don’t need high level education to do the job and you can do it very well without a degree.
- If you work with renewable energy, you are contributing to the sustainability of industries and the country as a whole.
- There may be travel involved in working as a technician. This can become frustrating if you’re travelling for multiple days and can make work less enjoyable and difficult to have a family.
- Oil rig technicians often live offshore for several months at a time which can be a very tricky environment to live in.
- If you decide to work as an oil rig technician, your work potentially has a limited lifespan with the transition to sustainable sources of energy.
Technician work-life balance
The work-life balance of your job depends on the type of energy you work with. For solar panel and wind turbine engineers, your work is usually during typical working hours of 9am to 5pm on Monday to Friday. You may work longer hours than these if you’re working on a big project with many turbines or panels to be installed or maintained. This is done primarily onsite.
With oil rig technicians, you also work mostly standard office hours but all your work is on an oil rig. This makes your working environment very different to that of other technicians because you work where you live.
Typical employers hiring technicians
Finding the right employer for you helps you increase your job satisfaction and increase your productivity. Here are some of the companies that you could work for as a technician:
You can learn more about the top firms in the energy sector.
Related jobs to technician
Do you like the energy sector but you’re not sure about the technician role? Learn about the types of roles available in energy and infrastructure. If sustainability is important to you, learn about the roles in renewable energy.