Get This Job: Wind Turbine Technician

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A technician checks lightning strike data. Photo by: TobySmith.comToby Smith

This could be the quickest cure for the common desk job: Demand for wind techs is high, pay is decent, technical school can get you on the job in as little as two years, and, unlike excavating fossil fuels, it’s the future of sustainable energy. This niche industry will add about 800 new jobs in the next decade, mostly in windy states like Texas, California, and Wyoming, as well as the Midwest. The catch: Your office will be 300 feet above the ground on exposed platforms, in mechanical compartments, or even dangling in midair.

As a rope access technician, Harrison Gatos of UpWind Solutions maneuvers by rope and harness to inspect, repair, and retrofit turbine blades, completing four- to eight-week deployments at wind farms from Kansas to Pennsylvania. Working “uptower” can be cold, windy (ya think?), and isolating—due to the grueling travel schedule—but it’s not all bad. “You get some really good views up there,” Gatos says. (His favorite: A golden sunrise over rural Indiana.) And like many wind techs, Gatos works seasonally, earning his year’s pay from March through November.

Pay $49,000 Prerequisites A good head for heights Perks Seasonal work at full-time pay Problems Suitcase living Prospects 4,000 jobs by 2022 (+24%)