Wind turbine technicians are responsible for keeping wind turbine equipment running smoothly. Their work involves maintaining, testing and repairing mechanical and electrical equipment and monitoring daily performance. They work at onshore or offshore wind farms.
You could be:
finding faults on all turbine systems, including mechanical, electrical and hydraulic
making routine inspections on all systems
climbing up high wind turbine towers wearing a safety harness to carry out repair work
maintaining and repairing main systems and components, such as transformers and cabling
updating the site manager on the progress of maintenance, repair or inspection work and producing reports and checklists
travelling to other sites to fix a machine failure or breakdown
supervising junior technicians, or inspecting the work of other onsite maintenance workers
monitoring stock and ordering spare parts
following strict health and safety procedures.
The figures below are only a guide. Salaries may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
A Modern Apprentice may start on the National Minimum Wage (NMW). At present the apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £4.81 an hour (1 April 2022). Some employers may pay their apprentices more.
In Scotland salaries for qualified wind turbine technicians start around £25,000 a year. This rises to between £30,000 and £40,000 a year with further experience. Some employers may offer additional benefits such as travel allowance, and a bonus and company pension scheme.
You will work on site at an offshore or onshore wind farm.
You will probably work a 40-hour week Monday to Friday and be available weekends or for emergency callouts.
You usually work as part of a team of two or more.
This work is hazardous. You will be working at heights with high voltage electrical equipment, sometimes offshore. Some wind turbines are over 140 metres high.
You will wear protective gear such as hardhat, overalls, safety shoes, goggles or gloves. You must wear a safety harness for working at heights.
You will travel to different sites within a specific geographic area.
Currently most entrants already have an engineering qualification together with relevant wind farm experience. Although, other industrial experience such as oil and gas, marine or utilities is also considered.
The best way in is to take a qualification in an electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering subject. Relevant courses include an NC or NQ (SCQF Levels 3-6), HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8), or a City and Guilds Wind Turbine Technician qualification (SCQF Level 6).
Entry requirements range from 3 subjects at National 4 or 5 for NC and NQ courses to 1-2 Highers for HNC and HND courses. You should normally have English, Maths and at least one science or technological subject.
Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and Fife College offer City and Guilds courses in wind turbine technology and maintenance. Successful completion can lead to a place on an MA or further study at HNC or HND level. See the college websites for more details and entry requirements.
You may need a driving licence for travelling around sites.
To work offshore, you may need to pass a medical and an offshore survival course such as the Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training Certificate (BOSIET).
Typical employers are wind turbine manufacturers and companies specialising in developing, constructing and operating onshore and offshore wind farms. There are also opportunities with renewable energy operation, maintenance or utility companies.
What Does it Take?
You need to have:
an interest in science and technology
good problem solving and analytical skills
practical and technical abilities
good numeracy and IT skills
an accurate and methodical approach
an eye for detail
a good level of physical fitness
a responsible attitude to health and safety.
You need to be:
able to work alone or as part of a team
good at communicating with others
able to follow instructions and read schematic drawings
willing to work in all weather
willing to work at heights.
After you qualify and do further training with your employer, you can work towards registering as an Engineering Technician (EngTech) with the Engineering Council. Check their website for details on the various approved routes you can take.
You need to take specialist courses for working at heights. Look up the Renewable UK website for details on course providers.
You need to keep up to date with training and new developments throughout your working life.
Technicians usually work under the general supervision of professional engineers. With further study and training, you could progress to become an electrical or mechanical engineer at the higher levels of Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng).
With experience you may be promoted to work as a site manager.
You could move into blade maintenance and repair work.
You would be able to work as an electrical or mechanical engineer in other industries such as manufacturing, marine, oil and gas or utilities.
There may be opportunities to work abroad.
According to a report from the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC), it is predicted that the number of people employed in direct and indirect jobs in the UK offshore wind sector is set to rise from the current 26,000 to over 69,800 by 2026.