Where will your renewables career take you?
The renewables industry is growing exponentially, with sustainability and environmental impact becoming increasingly important. Across the U.S., there has been a boom in clean energy jobs, especially within solar and wind energy. So, if you’re looking for a career in renewables, where is the best place to start your job search?
Using leading industry data from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Solar Jobs Census, the team at Progressive have analyzed yearly hiring trends in solar and wind careers. This insight compares each state, looks at year on year (YOY) employment growth trends, and shines a light on gender diversity in the workplace.
Our specialist recruitment consultants have used their renewables staffing expertise to analyze this data and reveal where in the United States will provide you with the best career opportunities in renewable energy.
California has the most jobs in the solar and wind industries
Texas employs the highest number of people in the wind industry
Jobs in the solar industry are on the rise in Georgia, with a year on year increase of 29%
Wind energy has seen the largest increase in job opportunities YoY compared to the solar industry
Use the map below to explore the statistics of each state
*The number of jobs reflects an estimate of people employed in each industry during 2019.
States & solar careers
The analysis revealed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the coastal state of California, with its year-round summer, had the highest number of solar jobs in the U.S. last year, with a staggering 74,255 people employed. Despite this figure being down 3.4% in 2019 compared to 2018, California is still the number one state when it comes to opportunities in the solar energy industry.
“Though growth markets can offer opportunity, mature markets can offer diversity,” states Rick Meese, Director of Power and Renewables at Progressive. “For example, California may not appear to be growing at the same rate as other states, but it will offer jobs across commercial, residential and utility scale solar.”
Florida, otherwise known as “The Sunshine State,” came in second, with a slightly more modest 12,202 roles, followed by New York in third, with the east coast state offering 10,740 job opportunities in 2019.
Further north, Massachusetts offered 10,400 solar jobs, and the southern state of Texas accounted for 10,261 job roles last year. While the amount of sunlight available will have some degree of impact on the size of the solar industry in Texas, it’s definitely not the highest contributing factor. Political and economic factors are likely to have a greater impact here.
On the other hand, states in the north of the country offer the lowest volume of careers in solar, with Alaska ranked in last place with just 64 roles, two less than the previous year.
States & wind careers
Luckily, a career in the wind energy industry provides approximately the same opportunities as those in the solar industry, suggesting you would have an equal chance in either renewable career endeavour.
Rick Meese, Director of Power and Renewables at Progressive, comments, “Your skillset, whether it’s in construction or in operations and maintenance, will largely dictate where your next career move in the wind industry will be.”
Texas proves once again that it is the place to be when building your career in the renewables industry. The “Lone Star State” had the highest number of wind jobs in 2019 with a total of 25,500 available. Following suit is Iowa and Illinois where we found 9,500 and 8,500 wind related jobs.
Next is California which, despite boasting the largest wind farm in the U.S., sits in fourth place offering 6,500 career opportunities in 2019, the same figure as both Indiana and Oklahoma.
In last place are Utah, Nevada, and Delaware - each state had approximately 500 roles in 2019 and with no increase from 2018 you may need to look further afield for a career in wind energy if you call these states home.
“It’s widely accepted that many working in the renewables space need to be flexible if they want to access opportunities that are right for them” states Rick Meese, Director of Power and Renewables at Progressive. “Wind technicians regularly travel to new locations and see different areas of the country as part of the job. This is an element of the work that many find most desirable.”
Year on Year increase
If you’re up and coming in the renewable energy sector, you’ll need to be in an up and coming location – or at least willing to travel to one - but which states have increased their job opportunities across the wind and solar industries?
Well, with a population of just over ten million, the southern state of Georgia saw a jump in solar careers by almost a third (29.8%) in the last year alone. That’s an increase of 1,102 careers YoY.
Rick Meese, Director of Power and Renewables at Progressive, remarks: “Investing in your career is like investing in anything else: it pays to be early, or at least on time. So, do your research to see where the investment dollars are heading next.”
Florida, one of the top places for solar jobs, is also going from strength to strength with a rise of 1,184 jobs on the previous year. It is followed by Utah and Hawaii.
On the other hand, despite renewable energy consumption rising YoY across the U.S., some states are not seeing the same growth in renewable energy jobs. For example, in 2019, solar jobs in Wyoming saw a 16% decrease, down to just 159 roles.
Arkansas and Tennessee also reduced their solar jobs in 2019 by 10% down to 329 and 4,194 respectively. While neither of these states saw a decrease in their wind energy opportunities, each state still had less than 1,000 jobs available.
Wind energy was revealed to be the fastest growing industry, with the highest increase in job opportunities YoY recorded in 2019. Arizona, Vermont, New Hampshire and Alabama all saw an impressive increase of 67% in the total number of people employed, suggesting there are ample opportunities in these states.
While some states might not be seeing as notable rises in their wind energy opportunities, states such as New York, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas all reported over 3,500 jobs in 2019.
Solar female employment
As industries across the board look to offer equal opportunities within the workplace, the analysis revealed which states are standing at the forefront and actively seeking female employment in this typically male dominated industry.
When it comes to gender diversity, states including Vermont, Louisiana and South Dakota are leading the way, with around 40% of their renewable energy workforce identifying as female.
Other states leading the way here include Montana, New Mexico and Missouri where 38%, 37% and 34% of their workforces are women.
Nicole Pontanilla, a member of WRISE’s San Diego Chapter and renewable energy recruitment consultant at Progressive, notes, “While renewables has been welcoming more and more females into the industry, especially in corporate roles, the workforce we see is still much like those at fossil fuel companies: white and predominantly male. Organizations like WRISE strive to celebrate female empowerment and gender equality in this industry. As the renewable energy sector grows, I anticipate that the size of the female workforce will grow with it.”
Solar Project Funding
Explore our table below to discover the full list of proposed solar projects across the country.
The list details the number of projects proposed between 2020 and 2024, as well as the total amount of government funding per state.
2020 - 2024
Offshore wind opportunity
With only one offshore wind farm currently running in the U.S., the market is set to see large growth as the industry recognizes the potential offshore wind has to generate more than 2,000 GW of capacity per year — nearly double the nation’s current electricity use.
Take a look at our top offshore wind farm facts below.
Offshore wind farm proposals from Maryland to Maine could create up to 36,000 full time jobs across 74 different occupations by 2030
This could generate a $70 billion dollar economy boost
The government has leased $473 million worth of off-shore wind farm space across 15 different sites
Maine is earmarked as the main state for investment, with 7 projects currently in scope for the state
*All figures quoted cover 2018 and 2019 recruitment data.
To create our Where Will Your Renewables Career Take You feature, we analyzed data from a range of sources including AWEA and Solar Jobs Census to find out which states have the most opportunities in renewables, and how this breaks down from a gender diversity perspective.
Our figures from AWEA are an estimate of the total number of people employed in that industry in a given year. We’ve manually calculated any changes in available job roles by working out the median average between the two minimum and maximum jobs for a given year (2019) and subtracting this from the previous year.
We then paired our data from AWEA and Solar Jobs Census with editorial research around currently planned projects to forecast growth areas for American renewable energy in the coming years.