Top Energy Jobs in 2013

An instructor of CEM training offers his take on new opportunities

By Eric Woodroof, Ph.D., CEM, CRM


Consulting Engineering or Project Development

If you don’t mind travel, there are lucrative jobs within the consulting and ESCO industries. These positions usually exist within a third-party organization that is separate from the one where the energy is being consumed. The primary task for these professionals is to help clients reduce expenses. All of the skills of the energy manager are useful, while sales and presentation skills are even more important. You may have to continually prove your value to the client.

Sometimes these job titles are labeled account executive or sales engineer. The tasks involve hunting for opportunities, qualifying the clients, and preparing proposals. If a performance contract is involved, the account manager must also understand the various legal and financial arrangements that pertain to different types of clients. A new course that offers the best practices of this industry can be found at www.aeeprograms.com.

A high level of both technical and social skills is required to sell a performance contract, and the sales cycle can last over a year. But the position can be rewarded well with compensation over $150,000 per year.

Generally, the consulting engineer is a position that requires a professional engineer (PE) distinction. But in general, as a consultant, you are being paid for your ideas, so you must keep current on the latest technologies and methods.

If you are a project developer, you may have more of a sales role that entails meeting with clients, performing energy audits, and coordinating the ESCO’s resources to develop and present a project proposal.

Once a project is sold and moves to the execution phase, there are many jobs involved with installation. As a project manager, your role is to oversee projects through completion. You are accountable for timelines and budgets. A project manager position can be high-pressure at times, but the job is relatively stable.

Eric A. Woodroof, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Board for the Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) program and he has been a board member of the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Program since 1999. His clients include government agencies, airports, utilities, cities, universities and foreign governments. Private clients include IBM, Pepsi, GM, Verizon, Hertz, Visteon, JP Morgan-Chase, and Lockheed Martin.

When a person has real world experience running facilities or projects, they are also valuable as equipment salespeople. As an energy equipment vendor, you would attend many expositions and shows to explain your products and services. Similar to the consultant or developer, the job involves a fair amount of rejection, but with new technologies emerging, there are a lot of great solutions you can offer clients.

Another ESCO-related job is the measurement and verification (M&V) professional, who is typically a third party as well. These M&V skills are valuable in the commissioning arena because commissioning agents have a thought process of beginning with the end in mind. Both positions seek to correct problems early and save energy. This job involves making sure that energy savings meet projections after the project is installed. It appeals to analytical and problem-solving types and may require travel as you accommodate clients wherever they are located.

A final third-party job is the utility representative who makes sure the client is happy with their power purchases. This position helps clients implement demand side management projects and programs that are a win-win for both parties. It involves strong customer service skills as well as patience because you will likely be dealing with large organizations that may act slowly.

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