Education is a fundamental part of the Collaborative's mission and we have engaged in a variety of wind power education and training efforts since our inception. In recent months, we've seen a huge spike in interest in wind power technical training. We've collected some of the most frequently asked questions that we've received and posted answers to them below. Please read through this page before contacting us; it's likely the fastest path to the answers to your questions.
I want to become a wind turbine technician. What training should I get?
There isn't a short, easy answer for this question because there currently aren't any standards for wind turbine technician training in the United States. Typically, wind plant operations and maintenance (O&M) companies provide their own training to their personnel. For new hires, they're looking for people with technical aptitude and troubleshooting skills. Of course, those with prior experience and/or appropriate training will have a competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
There are a variety of training programs available today: one or two day short courses, one to four month "boot camps", and one to two year certificate or diploma programs. The best route depends on you. Theoretically, the more extensive (longer) programs will give you the best chance at getting a job. However, they'll take time and cost more money. The shorter courses are necessarily less thorough, but they might be enough to get you started in the industry sooner.
What kind of wind turbine technician training is available in California?
We offer a weekend (two day) course, Wind Energy for Technicians, which provides a comprehensive technical overview of modern wind power. Note that it does not provide low-level training for specific jobs. However, we believe that it gives an advantage to job applicants looking for any kind of work in the wind industry. See the course web page for a full description of the class, including a detailed description of the curriculum.
As of March 2009, Cerro Coso Community College and Shasta College are both offering courses specifically to train prospective wind turbine technicians. Fresno City College is scheduled to make its first offering in Spring 2010. For more information, contact them directly:Cerro Coso Community College
Other California Community Colleges are also currently developing wind turbine technician training programs. For more information contact:Peter Davis
You may also try contacting your local California Community College campus.
Other companies offer training in California. Airstreams, the company that developed the curriculum being used by the California Community Colleges, is also offering classes themselves. Rope Partner offers rope access training for the wind industry (and other fields) at their facility in Santa Cruz, California.
Finally, Wind Powering America has compiled a list of education and training programs throughout the United States.
What kind of wind turbine technician training is available outside of California?
There are programs available in several states including Iowa Lakes Community College in Iowa and Columbia Gorge Community College in Oregon. Many of these offer one year certificate and two year degree programs. For a list of programs across the country, see the Wind Powering America list of education and training programs.
Why is your two-day course called Wind Energy for Technicians if it will not train me in how to become a technician?
Ahhh, an excellent question. When we first started talking to wind plant owners and operators about the industry's education needs, they expressed a desire to provide existing wind turbine technicians with more technical depth in the design, engineering, and development of wind plants. They felt that such knowledge would yield better technicians who are more aware and invested. We therefore developed a class, not for prospective wind technicians, but for existing technicians. We often say that the course does not teach technicians how to do their jobs, but why.
Unexpectedly, we attracted students with very diverse backgrounds. We got not only existing and prospective technicians, but financiers, engineers, administrators, business office personnel, and subcontractors already in or looking to enter the wind industry. Since then, we've retuned the curriculum a bit to meet this interest. Some day soon, we'll get around to renaming the course to something a bit less... historic.
What certification will I receive if I take your Wind Energy for Technicians class?
In short, none. There are currently no certification standards for wind turbine technicians in the United States. Therefore, no one can offer an industry-adopted certification at this time.
We do provide a certificate of completion to those who finish our course. If you present prospective employers with the certificate and a copy of the curriculum, they may consider you a better, more knowledgeable candidate.
There's no wind technician certfication that's generally accepted by the wind industry? If that's the case, why should I bother with any third party training program at all?
Indeed, there is no industry adopted wind turbine technician certification at this time. However, even without formal certification, good training may make you a more attractive candidate to prospective employers. Of course, without certified training programs, you'll have to determine on your own who offers good training. You'll want to look at the reputation of each training agency/school and you may want to talk to wind plant O&M companies about which programs they value the most.
The American Wind Energy Association is currently beginning efforts to develop a standard for wind technician training. Many of the existing training programs are participating in this process.
If a date isn't posted, then we don't know yet. If you sign up for notification with the form on the right, you will be among the first to know when course dates are set. You only need to sign up for notification once.
Please don't e-mail us to ask when the next course offering will be. If it's not on the website already, use the notification form.
Typically, we offer Wind Energy for Technicians twice a year and Small Wind Energy Systems once a year.
Where will your next course be offered?
Again, if a specific date and location hasn't yet been posted on the course web page, then we don't know yet. We try to alternate classes between Northern and Southern California, staying near major wind power development areas and our home base in Davis. We also choose our location based on preferences submitted through our notification request form to the right.
Sign up for notification if you want to be among the first to know of new class dates and locations.
What's the difference between your Wind Energy for Technicians course and your Small Wind Energy Systems course?
Wind Energy for Technicians is a two-day course which provides a comprehensive technical overview of modern wind power, focusing on the design, engineering, and development of utility scale wind plants. It's most appropriate for those working or planning to work in the wind industry.
Small Wind Energy Systems is a one-day course for prospective owners of small wind turbines. It covers the technical background and ownership issues that potential consumers should know before investing in a system.
There's some overlap, but the courses are very different. For more detail on each, see their respective pages. The pages include details on the courses' curricula.
What job will I receive if I take the Wind Energy for Technicians class?
None of our classes include job placement. We do not guarantee any sort of job based on participation in our classes. However, we strongly believe that our Wind Energy for Technicians course gives a "leg up" to those applying for any job in the wind industry.
Where can I find wind turbine technician jobs?
Windustry has compiled an excellent list of wind job boards.
I want more details on some of the training programs than what's available on their websites. Can you tell me more?
You should probably contact the training agency/school directly. You may also be interested in our 2009 Forum, where we conducted a panel on training and education. The proceedings of the Forum are available for a nominal fee over the next few months. On 5 September 2009, the proceedings will me made available for free.
I'm interested in K-12 and/or undergraduate education and/or graduate research. Who should I contact?
We're preparing a FAQ page for those education levels, too. In the meanwhile, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a question that hasn't been answered yet. Where should I submit my question?
Right here: email@example.com