The nascent offshore wind-power sector has been attracting public interest, government support and industry investment in spades. While onshore wind activities continue to grow in several places, especially in emerging markets such as Latin America and China, a combination of geophysical constraints on land, higher wind speeds at sea and lower public opposition to less-visible sites is making offshore wind projects an increasingly attractive proposition, especially in northern Europe.
For people eager to deploy their skills in a burgeoning sector that offers good salaries, plenty of opportunities for career progression and the thrill of a new challenge, the offshore wind-power sector is a good bet. A survey of our readers reveals that those employed in offshore wind work hard, are paid quite well and are generally happy with their lot.
Offshore wind is not for the desk-bound. A sizeable 68% of respondents regularly work away from home. Northern Europe is by far the dominant location for offshore wind projects, with engineering jobs being the prevalent type of employment on offer. Consultancies employ nearly one fifth of people in the sector, with engineering firms and wind-farm installation businesses employing around 15% each.
Women are even more of a rarity in offshore wind than they are onshore. Only 7% of the respondents to our survey who work in the offshore sector were women. Equally unsurprising is the fact that most respondents are under 40 years of age — as you would expect in a very young industry. But exactly because it is such a new industry, offshore wind power attracts a significant number of more experienced workers over 50, with those migrating from the oil and gas offshore industry attracting the best remuneration packages.
While still a relatively small employer — about one quarter of survey respondents say they work in offshore wind – the sector is showing very promising signs for the future. Workers are generally happy with their work, median pay is some 20% higher than for onshore, and the opportunities for growth are endless.
With some large projects in the North Sea due to come online over the next few years and exciting plans for North America and Asia, the prospects for people eager to deploy their engineering, project-management or other specialist skills in this high-growth industry are very good. If you enjoy a challenge, a career in offshore wind power may offer just the right combination of professional and financial rewards to keep you happy for years to come.
Nadia Weekes is editor of Windpower Monthly