Energy Career Pathways

A very important factor to consider before dedicating yourself to a certain education pathway is determining the post-graduation opportunities. At Yale, there is abundant support and opportunities for students who are interested in the field of energy. Regardless of what direction you plan on taking your career in, there will be someone or some group that can help you or some resource that you can utilize, to help you land your dream job. Unfortunately, this abundant support can also lead to confusion as to what direction you might like to take your career in (since all roads will lead to success). To this end, this guide is made to help provide an outline of the four major (but non-definitive) pathways for a career in the energy industry.

Note that the pathways are not definitive and limiting; they are only rough guidelines that somewhat categorize the types of careers you may engage within the sector. Don’t be discouraged by the pathways; instead, go out there and explore the field. As you explore the field, you may just find yourself interested in careers that lie at the intersection of the categories or trying to create a new opportunity that does not previously exist based on changing needs and technologies. The ultimate suggestion: GO FOR IT!

Pathway 1: Research, Product Development, and Deployment
This pathway is for you if you love researching and getting hands-on experience with either developing a product or deploying it on a project. Whether you like working in a lab or out in the open remote wilderness, you deeply care about a product and feel a sense of pride and ownership knowing that you contributed to something tangible and impactful. If the idea of creating a novel, ground-breaking technology that can revolutionize people’s lives, or work on a billion-dollar project to electrify millions of people sounds like fun, you may be interested to consider this career pathway. This is also the job if you are interested in educational research (i.e. in a university).

Job examples: Lab Researcher, R&D, CTO, Developers, Analysts, Engineers, Energy Auditors, Journalists, Professors

Pathway 2: Policy Development and Regulations
This pathway is for you if you believe that the current solutions and issues with deploying clean energy at a global scale lie in the current policy and regulatory framework. As technology becomes more robust, the policy has often lagged behind, and if the idea of revolutionizing the policies and regulations that govern energy production, transmission, and consumption sounds appealing, this is the right pathway for you. Some added bonuses: you get to work with VIPs such as the President and other Members of Congress, in addition to having increased media spotlight and engagement.

Job examples: Policymaker, Legislative aide, FERC regulator, Alders/Neighbourhood councils, Regulators, Environmental lawyers

Pathway 3: Finance, Business, and Consulting
This pathway is for you if you love to understand and analyze the financial and economical aspects of a project, a product, or a policy. This pathway also includes the would-be consultants who love to help other projects reach the mass and learn useful skills and information in the process. If you love analyzing market patterns, consumer behavior, and business strategies, you should consider this pathway for your future career. Who knows, maybe one day, you will become the CEO of a trillion-dollar corporation that revolutionized the energy industry.

Job examples: Consultant, Financier, Accountant, Site/Property Assessor, Investment manager, Economists, CSR officers

Pathway 4: Organization, Communications, and Project Management
This pathway is for you if you realize the dire need for continued collaboration and coordination to ensure that there are no overlapping activities and that everyone is moving forward together and with a common purpose: the strongest of movements is only as strong as its weakest link, and in many cases, inter-organizational coordination is still the weakest link in the energy transition movement. You also love working with people, spending hours traveling and talking to people, marketing the appeals of organizations, and coming up with communication strategies that appeal to the intended audience and relate to them.

Job examples: C-Suite (startups), Project manager, Coordinators, Managers, Developers, Trustee board members

Education Career Pathways. Image Source: U.S. DOE
By Sena Sugiono
Sena Sugiono