Career Opportunities Abound in Renewable Energy Sector

Clean energy technologies – including solar and wind – accounted for nearly 87 percent of net new electric power generation jobs in the U.S. last year. Canary Media published a recent study identifying which states are most prolific in clean energy jobs. 

The study reported that renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing employers in the United States, with California and Texas leading the nation in clean energy deployment. This translates into more career opportunities for those interested in wind and solar jobs.

Clean energy technologies added 22,279 jobs in 2022, according to the Department of Energy’s 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Solar energy had the largest number of jobs gained, adding 12,256 workers while wind energy — both onshore and offshore — added 5,416 jobs in 2022.

Solar power is particularly labor-intensive and employs the most people out of all types of power generation. In 2022, there were more than 340,000 solar jobs across the country, with weather-friendly California accounting for over one-third of them. Massachusetts has the second-most solar jobs in the country at slightly above 16,000. Texas and New York are next on the list, with about 15,000 solar jobs each. In comparison, Oklahoma had nearly 1,450 jobs in the solar energy sector for 2022. Solar power is expected to grow as nearly half of all new power plant capacity slated to be added in 2023 is attributed to solar.

Wind has a much smaller workforce than solar, with nearly 125,000 workers in 2022 — but its workforce is growing faster than that of most other energy technologies. Offshore wind jobs alone grew more than 20 percent from 2021 to 2022.

Texas has more than 26,000 wind jobs, making it the biggest wind-employment state in the nation. It’s no coincidence since Texas also led the nation in wind-powered electricity generation for over a decade, producing nearly 26 percent of the nation’s wind energy in 2021. Illinois, Colorado and California follow far behind Texas in wind workforce numbers, and despite producing the most amount of wind power after Texas, Iowa ranks No. 10 in terms of wind jobs. In comparison, Oklahoma had 1,900 jobs in the wind energy sector for 2022.

In the overall electric power sector, renewable energy jobs already far outnumber those in fossil fuel generation. Wind generation alone employs more than twice as many people in the U.S. as coal power generation, and despite still providing about 40 percent of the country’s electricity in 2022, natural gas electricity employed just over 118,000 people. In contrast, solar and wind employed more than 471,000 workers while supplying about 14 percent of the country’s electricity in the same year.

A significant number of these jobs — about half for solar, and just over one-third for wind — are in construction, which tend to be temporary arrangements. But there’s no sign of the renewable energy buildout slowing down, meaning the need for construction workers will continue for the foreseeable future. The Inflation Reduction Act and the U.S. goals of decarbonizing the grid by 2035 will help further accelerate the exponential deployment of solar and wind energy.

To read the full energy jobs report issued by the U.S. Department of Energy, click here.