Weatherization: It’s More Than a Job, It’s a Career

Career Info
Exploring the benefits of being a Home Energy Professional

Introduction

When you’re looking for your first job, changing jobs, or making a completely fresh start in your work life, figuring out where to begin can sometimes feel overwhelming. In the news, we often hear about sectors of the economy that are doing well and where workers are in high demand—such as IT, healthcare, and construction—but it’s not always obvious how to get a foot in the door. In some industries, training and experience requirements for new workers can be daunting, time consuming, and costly.

 

In this post, we will explore the benefits of entering one of these high-demand sectors—home energy professionals—and we’ll look at some of the possible routes to get there.

 

So, what is a home energy professional? Also known as a weatherization worker, home energy professionals help occupants make their homes more energy efficient, safer, more affordable, more comfortable, and more durable. 

 

No matter what their specific job role is in this line of work, home energy professionals have the opportunity to make a big and immediate impact on individuals and families in their community, on the environment, and the country as a whole, by improving our nation’s housing stock and making us more resilient. 

 

Those sound like pretty big goals, and they are! But the field of weatherization is unique in its ability to touch many different areas of our society, while offering job-seekers an enriching work life with an impressive list of benefits and opportunities to advance. Read on to learn more!

Many Points of Entry

One thing that stands out from the get-go when you start looking at jobs in the field of home energy and weatherization is how many different points of entry there are for individuals to get started in this sector. 

Whether you have just finished high school, are working on earning your GED, or have college credits, a degree, and/or work experience under your belt, there are home energy/weatherization job postings in almost every county in the country that offer new workers a defined and attainable pathway into the industry with a competitive starting salary.

If you like working with your hands and being part of a crew, applying for a position as Retrofit Installer Technician (RIT), for example, can be an excellent starting point. 

RITs typically receive on-the-job training and mentoring to start, coupled with paid classroom, lab, and field-based training programs as they progress. Initial training for RITs focuses on installation techniques and quality checks and gradually builds up to broader topics, such as the connection between home energy upgrades— like insulation and air sealing—and how different energy systems in the home interact with each other. In some states, RITs can build on their knowledge and earn “badges” as they master new skills as an installer, allowing workers to go at their own pace as they get comfortable with the hands-on and technical skills involved in the job tasks.

If you like working with numbers, organizing, and managing information, helping clients by phone or in person, or have an interest in developing administrative skills, applying for a position as an Energy Efficiency Program Assistant or Coordinator could be your pathway into this field. 

Energy Efficiency Program Assistants typically receive mentoring and a combination of online and in-person training, paid for by their employer, to build their administrative skills and knowledge of energy programs when they start work. Because energy efficiency programs can be complex for clients to understand, this job position often includes technical and communications training to help program assistants and managers become effective communicators as well as project managers. 

If you like solving technical problems, fixing things, and learning how machines and different building systems work, applying for a position as a Building Maintenance Worker or a Building Automation Systems Trainee could be an excellent starting option for entry into the field. By taking this track, you can very quickly get exposed to a range of multifamily and commercial building types, energy equipment, and technology. This opens up a wide avenue of advancement routes as you progress. 

What do these home energy professional entry points have in common? On-the-job training, employer-paid training and certification programs, competitive starting wages, and a regular working schedule often with benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and retirement saving plans. 

To explore additional on-ramps into this sector, visit the Green Buildings Career Map and click on the different job descriptions in each area. You’ll find videos, testimonials, and possible advancement routes. See where your interests and background fit into this industry!

Many Places to Go

Another compelling reason to give home energy professional listings serious attention when looking for your next job is the opportunity for lifelong career advancement that this sector offers. 

As the Green Buildings Career Map shows, gaining work experience in any position in the home energy industry opens up a substantial number of choices to move up—or laterally—so that you never get bored of your work and can learn new skills at every stage of your career, while increasing your salary and credentials as you go.

One reason why this field provides access to a lifelong career, not just a single job, is the robust national training and certification network that has been built up over many decades to support workers in this field.

Accredited energy efficiency and renewable energy training centers that use cutting-edge training tools and technologies exist in many states and regions across the United States. Increasingly, many programs include online training courses to allow you the flexibility to build your knowledge in the field in a way that fits in with your work schedule.

This national network of training providers also includes testing centers for home energy professional certification exams, which many employers will pay for, so your advancement in the field opens up not only higher wages but also your education and professional portfolio to include in-demand credentials that you can take anywhere with you.

Jobs That Make a Difference

We spend a lot of our lives at work. As a result, we want to feel fulfilled in the work we do. Seeing how our work makes a difference, not just in our own lives but in the families we help and in our broader communities, can sustain our interest and motivation to stay in the field and gradually evolve into new job roles over the long haul.

Many workers in the field of home energy and weatherization describe how the positive social and environmental impacts of their jobs keep them engaged in their work. Helping improve inefficient homes has far-reaching benefits for the individuals and families who live in those buildings, as well as for our collective energy usage and environmental footprint.

Energy Auditors and Retrofit Installers may arrive at a home where someone with asthma is struggling due to indoor air quality issues. In many cases, they get to see how the energy upgrades they propose or install in the home improve that person’s health as well. Applying the knowledge and skills you gain on the job as a home energy professional often brings rewards like this because the multiple benefits of the work are tangible and profound.

Quality Control Inspectors may visit a home to inspect the energy upgrades performed and learn that the family can now afford to pay for healthcare needs, stay in their home, or pay for their child’s college course because their utility bills have been lowered. These workers get to see firsthand that their work is not just helping to combat climate change by lowering our dependence on fossil fuels; it is also boosting resiliency and quality of life for our neighbors and our nation.

In the article “What Is Your Why,” four home energy professionals describe how seeing these changes in their clients’ lives translates to an increase in their own job satisfaction. “You get to see the effects of your work right away—that’s what I like, that’s why I enjoy my job,” says Dusniel Alvarez, a Housing and Energy Director in Texas. 

“The perk that comes with the job is just seeing the joy from little children’s faces, the elderly—knowing that you’re helping keep these folks in their homes—it’s very rewarding,” says Wayne Thompson, a Program Director in Illinois.

Over the past 40 years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has helped Americans save billions of dollars in utility bill expenses by lowering the energy usage of low-income homes and making homes safer and more durable. Becoming a home energy professional, backed by the national training network that supports you, is a great way to have a meaningful job—and a rewarding career—that can last a lifetime.

Don’t delay! Start your journey as a home energy professional today and reap the benefits of this exciting job sector that makes a big impact.

Visit the Connect Now page of Green Workforce Connect to identify and connect with weatherization employers in your area.