Approximately 8,500 people are directly employed in the geothermal industry, according to the 2019 U.S. Energy Employment Report from the National Association of State Energy Officials. Currently, the majority of geothermal employment opportunities in the United States exist where most geothermal reservoirs are located—in the western states, especially in rural areas. About 94 percent of the current U.S. geothermal generating capacity was in California and Nevada in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Geothermal electric power generation also occurs in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Other states—such as Louisiana and Mississippi—are expected to begin generating electric power via geothermal technology in the next several years. However, since magma is located everywhere under the earth’s surface, better technology and more powerful tools may enable geothermal-related projects to be found throughout the United States.
Geothermal energy workers are employed by government agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service, that review and approve licensing requests from geothermal energy contractors. They also conduct geothermal energy research for the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of the Interior (National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey), and other agencies. Developers of geothermal energy resources are major employers of workers in the field. Opportunities are also available with construction subcontractors and suppliers of power and cooling systems components, many of which are located in Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
There are many ways to explore job opportunities in the geothermal energy industry. Your college’s career services office is a great resource for job listings as well as for help drafting resumes and cover letters. It may organize career fairs, at which you can meet with company recruiters. Contacting companies directly regarding employment is also a good approach. Professional associations are another good source of job information via their Web sites or publications.
For more information on clean energy jobs and career planning, visit https://www.energy.gov/eere/education/clean-energy-jobs-and-planning.
Advancement prospects for geothermal energy industry workers vary by career. Engineers, for example, can earn advanced degrees and become engineering managers, open their own consulting firms, or become college professors (with a doctorate). Engineering technicians can earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering and become engineers. With experience and additional training, construction trades workers can become project foremen and construction managers. With experience, hard work, and continuing education, office workers can become office managers or even business executives.
Read publications such as the Geothermal Resources Council Bulletin (http://www.geothermal.org/bulletin.html) to learn more about industry trends and access job listings.
Use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to stay up to date on industry developments and learn about job openings.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Attend the Geothermal Resource Council's Annual Meeting & Expo (https://geothermal.org/meet-new.html) to network and to interview for jobs.
Join the Geothermal Resources Council and other organizations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.