Editor's Note: this blog was originally posted on the Pearson Higher Education Blog and was reposted with permission.

The employment outlook within many career paths related to Career and Technical Education (CTE) has shifted greatly over the last several decades, altered by changes in technology and economic conditions. Through all of this change, energy has remained an indispensable sector. As CTE fields from information technology to healthcare to hospitality grow and transform, energy grows with them because it provides the power on which they all depend. One aspect that almost all energy fields have in common is a robust demand for employees that will only increase in the near future. Like many other CTE sectors, this is due in large part to a rapidly retiring workforce. Fifty-five percent of the energy workforce may leave their jobs by 2023, and almost 75 percent of energy employers are already reporting that they are having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill open positions. The second reason, however, is demand driven by growth. Fields such as natural gas and solar are providing an increasing share of America’s energy and will seek more workers in order to expand even further. The energy occupations that will most need to be filled in the near future include engineers and skilled utility technicians. Chemists, welders, and HVAC technicians and installers will also see a high demand for their services. Energy jobs are attainable for those with specific industry certifications, postsecondary certificates, associate degrees or apprenticeship experience. Forty-seven percent of employees at a sample shale well held jobs that required less than a four-year degree. Even though required education varies, energy jobs make use of academic skills such as science and math, employability skills like the ability to communicate and follow safety procedures, and technical skills such as engineering expertise and for some, accounting and financial proficiency. The wages in energy jobs vary widely, but many are above the national median and some are well above. Jobs within the oil and natural gas industry offered an average wage of $107,000 in 2012. As with other CTE fields, internships and other work-based learning experiences benefit students aiming for careers in energy. One example of this is Oxnard (CA) High School’s Green Technologies Academy, where students take classes in subjects including Engineering Design & Development and Environmental Science and participate in internships that involve tasks like creating a mock power company. Another is Fletcher Technical Community College (LA)’s Integrated Production Technologies Center, which was created in partnership with BP and allows students to gain skills needed for deepwater oil production, which include aptitude in mathematics, computer applications and process diagrams and systems. For more information on employment projections and careers within the energy field, see the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE)’s Energy Sector Sheet, which is the source of all the facts in this blog. To find out more about the growing employment opportunities in other CTE sectors and learn about specific strong CTE programs that prepare students for career in those fields, check out ACTE’s other Microdocs and Sector Sheets.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.