Wind turbine service technicians install, maintain, and repair wind turbines.
What they do
Wind turbine service technicians typically do the following:
- Inspect the exterior and physical integrity of wind turbine towers
- Climb wind turbine towers to inspect or repair wind turbine equipment
- Perform routine maintenance on wind turbines
- Test and troubleshoot electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic components and systems
- Replace worn or malfunctioning components
- Collect turbine data for testing or research and analysis
- Service underground transmission systems, wind field substations, or fiber optic sensing and control systems
Wind turbines are large mechanical devices that convert wind energy into electricity. The turbine is made up of three major components: a tower, three blades, and a nacelle, which is composed of an outer case, generator, gearbox, and brakes. Wind turbine service technicians install and repair the components of these structures.
Although some windtechs are involved in building new wind turbines, most of their work is in maintaining them, particularly the nacelles, which contain the equipment that generates electricity.
Maintenance schedules are largely determined by a turbine’s hours in operation, but can also vary by manufacturer. Turbines are monitored electronically from a central office, 24 hours a day. When a problem is detected, windtechs travel to the worksite and make the repairs. Typical maintenance includes inspecting components and lubricating parts. For turbines that operate year-round, routine maintenance may occur one to three times a year.
Windtechs use safety harnesses and a variety of hand and power tools to do their work. They also use computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions. Most turbine monitoring equipment is located in the nacelle, which can be accessed both onsite and off.
Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, generally work outdoors, often at great heights and with a partner. For example, when repairing blades, windtechs rappel—or descend by sliding down a rope—from the nacelle to the section of the blade that needs servicing. To reach the mechanical equipment, workers must climb ladders—sometimes more than 260 feet tall—while wearing a fall protection harness and carrying tools. When maintaining mechanical systems, windtechs work in the confined space of the nacelle.
How to become a Wind Turbine Technician
Most wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, learn their trade by attending a technical school. They are also trained by their employer after hiring.
Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology, although some workers choose to earn an associate degree.
Many technical schools have onsite wind turbines that students can work on as part of their studies. In addition to lab coursework, other areas of focus that reflect the various skill sets needed to do the job include the following:
- Rescue, safety, first aid, and CPR training
- Electrical maintenance
- Hydraulic maintenance
- Braking systems
- Mechanical systems, including blade inspection and maintenance
- Computers and programmable logic control systems
In addition to their coursework, windtechs typically receive more than 12 months of on-the-job training related to the specific wind turbines they will maintain and service. Part of this training is manufacturer training. Other training may include an internship with a wind turbine servicing contractor.
Although not mandatory, professional certification can demonstrate a basic level of knowledge and competence. Some employers prefer to hire workers who are already certified in subjects such as workplace electrical safety, tower climbing, and self-rescue. There are many organizations who offer certifications in each of these subjects, and some certificate and degree programs include these certifications.
The median annual wage for wind turbine technicians was $52,910 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $39,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $80,150.
Employment of wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, is projected to grow 61 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.
Development of taller towers with larger blades has reduced the cost of wind power generation, making it more competitive with coal, natural gas, and other forms of power generation. As additional wind turbines are erected, more windtechs will be needed to install and maintain turbines.
Similar Job Titles
Field Service Technician; Maintenance Technician; Operations, Maintenance and Service Wind Turbine Technician (OMS Wind Turbine Technician); Senior Wind Turbine Technician; Wind Farm Support Specialist; Wind Technician; Wind Turbine Service Technician; Wind Turbine Technician
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Wind Energy Association - AWEA is the national trade association for the U.S. wind industry. With thousands of wind industry members and wind policy advocates, AWEA promotes wind energy as a clean source of electricity for American consumers.
Magazines and Publications
When it comes to green energy, it doesn’t get much bigger or more spectacular than fields of wind turbines spinning high in the sky. Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install and repair wind turbines. They monitor turbines electronically 24/7 from a central office, and travel to the worksite to troubleshoot problems, and conduct routine maintenance. Wind turbine technicians may service underground components as well as climb to the top of towers for inspections or to replace components. Strength and stamina are important qualities for windtechs, in addition to the mechanical and problem-solving skills they use once they’re off the ground. Since they’re often working on turbines over 200 feet high, and in cramped spaces, techs need to be able to keep a cool head and an eye on the details. Wind farms are often isolated, so windtechs travel to rural areas and, with their work partner, operate as their own first responders in case of an accident. Most work full time, and may be on call on evenings and weekends. Most windtechs learn their trade by earning a certificate in wind energy at a technical school or community college. Once hired, they gain more than 12 months of on-the-job training for the specific wind turbines they service. With an eye on a sustainable future, wind turbine service technicians play a crucial role in providing clean energy for the world.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org