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Renewable Energy

Community Colleges Train for Tomorrow

Scott Community College Urban Campus in downtown Davenport, Iowa 📸 Credit: Eastern Iowa Community College

Community colleges around the country are implementing or adapting valuable training programs to meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the renewable energy sector. Institutions in Utah, Colorado, and Iowa offer outstanding clean energy technical training, often for a fraction of the time and cost required to pursue a traditional degree at a four-year institution

Utah 

At Salt Lake Community College, students can earn a certificate in solar photovoltaic sales and installation or an AAS degree in Energy Management. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 63% growth in solar jobs through 2028, making the certificate a worthwhile investment in a growing professional field. Completing the AAS degree allows graduates to take the exam to become a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) and also gives them the option to transfer to Bismarck State College to complete the online Bachelor of Applied Science in Energy Management. 

Colorado 

Lamar Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Renewable Energy Technologies. Students interested in the installation, maintenance, and repair of renewable energy systems and biofuel equipment will learn the skills needed to pursue a professional job in this sector. Coursework includes overviews of wind, solar and electrical energy as well as specific instruction on how these different technologies work. Graduates will be able to advise on green building issues, install solar, wind, and other energy-generating equipment, and demonstrate basic welding skills.  

Iowa 

Located in Council Bluffs, Iowa Western Community College offers a certificate in Sustainable Energy Technology. This certificate program will prepare students for entry-level careers in the technical management of renewable energy systems. Students will study solar energy, wind energy, and alternative fuels such as ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas. 

The Renewable Energy program at Northeast Iowa Community College culminates in a diploma that enables graduates to gain entry-level employment in the field. Students will complete in-depth studies of Solar Thermal, Solar Photovoltaics, Geothermal, and Wind Energy. During the first term, program participants will complete a ten-hour online training course through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,  

The Agribusiness Department at the Des Moines Area Community College offers a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture, an ideal choice for those interested in green jobs outside the energy technology sector. As opposed to programs that focus solely on clean energy technology, this certificate introduces students to concepts of sustainability as they relate to the agricultural business. Students will learn how to operate and maintain a variety of farm equipment as well as how to advise crop producers on economical ways to solve farming issues. 

The Electrical and Renewable Energy program culminates in an AAS degree that prepares graduates for work as electricians and energy technicians across the green energy sector. Students will learn electrical engineering and design, industrial and commercial automation, electrical estimation and project management, and sustainable energy. Students may also receive certificates in six specialized areas: Residential-Commercial Electrical, Industrial-Utility Electrical, Photovoltaic Technician, Energy Auditor, Solar Energy Management, and Small Wind. Graduates will be eligible to apply for an Iowa Unclassified Electrical License. 

Students of the Renewable Energy program will receive an AAS degree preparing them for professional opportunities in wind, solar, and biofuels manufacturing. Iowa is third in the nation in wind production, with more wind plants being built in the next few years. Solar is also a growing industry with plants in eastern Iowa reporting significant increases in sales and installations. Iowa also leads the nation in biodiesel production and is a major producer of ethanol. With renewable energy jobs in high demand in the state, graduates will be poised to begin lucrative careers in the sector.

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