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It’s all about the future

How can we live sustainably on our small planet? How do we keep our growing population warm and well fed? What about the services we depend on – how do we keep them going?  Big questions, yes, but then, there is probably no career where your work is more fundamental to our future than energy.

If you are bright, hard working and passionate about making a difference the careers choices in energy are almost limitless. The sector directly employs well over half a million people in the UK, and huge numbers world wide, from engineers working in offshore windfarms, power stations and distribution, to energy managers helping companies, schools and hospitals reduce their energy use, to scientists and researchers working to improve our technologies and environmental experts and geologists looking at the impacts of our activities on the world around us.

There are huge opportunities and wide scope to choose the career that suits you. If you want to work for a big company there are multinationals; if you want to keep it small there are start ups. If you want to travel there are plenty of opportunities and if you’re always up for a new challenge, your skills are often highly transferable to other parts of the sector.

Getting into energy

Like with most professions these days, there is no set way to get started. Some people come straight into energy from school, college or university, while others transfer into energy from other careers later in life.

If university isn’t for you, or if you have finished study and are now moving into work, there are an increasing number of apprenticeships and in house company training programmes emerging in energy. These can help you develop a starting point of a school or university leaver and give you a range of training and support to help you find your feet in energy as well as developing some of the specific skills relevant to your employment, and often also giving you the foundation skills and knowledge to work towards a professional qualification. You can search our list of EI accredited company training schemes (programmes which we have approved as specifically relevant to progressing to qualifications) here.

Traditionally the next step is to complete a relevant undergraduate and/or postgraduate degree. The Energy Institute accredits courses in the UK and internationally – EI accreditation shows that a course has a good level of energy content and close links with energy employers and the wider profession, and it may also show that you have met some or all of the education requirements for professional titles like Chartered Engineer. You can search our list of accredited programmes here.

Don’t forget to sign up as a  Student member of the EI while you are studying – it is free if you are on an accredited programme or studying at one of the EI’s Learning Affiliate partners, and gives you access to events, resources and our student newsletter.

Join as a student now

There are a number of subjects which are particularly helpful if you are thinking of energy as a potential career. Sciences, in particular physics and chemistry, alongside maths, are important in many energy occupations. Communication, ICT and design are also very helpful whatever aspect of energy appeals to you, so you should try and get relevant qualifications at least to GCSE level.

Getting your first foot on the ladder

Getting your first job can be a challenge, particularly if you are new to a sector. Energy is no different, but the opportunities are out there.

  • If you are graduating from an EI accredited programme, make the most of opportunities through the universities own connections to meet employers and make the most of the university’ careers services
  • Let the EI know if you have finished your studies and are looking to begin your working career – if you were a student member we can upgrade you to Associate membership. If you haven’t been a member before, you can sign up to Associate membership in just a few moments online. There are special low membership fees if you are just starting out
  • There are a range of companies and job services which are dedicated specifically to energy jobs. Sign up to as many as possible and take advantage of any services they offer
  • Network network network! If you are not a member, join now and get along to as many events run by your branch and YPN as possible and look for ways to meet people make connections and get involved.
  • Approach your branch about fixing up a mock interview or getting a more senior professional to help you work on your CV
  • Keep your knowledge up to date – read as widely as possible on energy topics so that you can show that you have wide ranging knowledge and are serious about working in the sector.  Use the knowledge service to access documents on topics which are of interest, and as part of your interview preparation
  • Consider work experience or an internship. This may not be a long term prospect for most people, but a short term placement can boost your confidence, build your contacts and help you decide if a particular area is right for you. Click here to visit the company directory to find company members who might be able to help in your area.
  • Don’t dismiss offers which seem less than perfect – they could lead to an unexpected opportunities and help you build transferable skills.

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The EI supports companies or educational bodies running energy related training schemes by accrediting their programmes and providing support and resources for their students. The accreditation procedure involves a thorough assessment of the course content, its assessment procedures, its teaching staff and its facilities by a panel of EI experts.

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Nothing sits still in energy. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is about maintaining and developing your competence and practice so that you continue to meet professional standards and can meet the challenges that come your way throughout your working life.