Technicians in demand
The UK alone has over 7000 wind turbines onshore and offshore. Collectively these turbines have more than 21,000 blades. Each of these blades need to be inspected regularly by qualified turbine blade technicians to maintain their efficiency and performance. Add to this number a dramatic increase (over 60%) in wind turbine installations in Europe by 2020, and you can see why turbine rotor blade technicians are in high demand!
If you are someone that enjoys the outdoors and is good with heights, a career as a turbine blade technician could be for you. Maybe you have an interest in climbing, or consider yourself a bit of a thrill-seeker. For a turbine blade technician no two days are the same. Technicians regularly find themselves working in new environments and travelling across the UK, Europe, and further afield. It really is a career that can take you to some of the most impressive places around the world.
Where to start
It’s not necessary to have previous rope access experience, and many trainees will decide to focus on blade repair skills before getting a rope access qualification. That said, blade technicians come from a wide variety of jobs and backgrounds, and, if you do already have an IRATA or SPRAT certificate, all the better. Potential technicians may also have a GWO Working at Height certificate if they are already in the wind industry. Equally though, if you don’t have experience of working at heights, it’s worth mentioning that your training begins on the ground, and the first few weeks of working may well be ground-based as well.
But, if you do have some previous experience working at heights, the turbine blade technician role can be particularly appealing. Among our technicians, common previous careers include lighting riggers, tree surgeons, window cleaners and steeplejacks. Experienced abseilers and climbers will find much of the transition into the role especially familiar.
Demonstrating some ability to work in a mechanical environment will be an advantage, though how this experience was acquired is less relevant – it may have been through training, work experience or a personal interest. It is also common for a driver’s licence to be required, or at least preferred, in order to operate company vehicles (field trucks) on site.
The next step to starting your wind energy career is getting yourself specific blade repair training from a respected training provider. There are many blade technician courses on offer, including Siemens, Maersk and Altitec, all offering intensive training for individuals with no prior experience of wind turbine rotor blades. These training courses provide individuals with the high standard of inspection and repair skills necessary to gain a job as an entry-level blade technician. The courses vary in length and intensity, but tend to be around one to two weeks. All are very hands-on.
The final step to a new career in the wind energy sector is to gain work experience as a blade technician. You can expect to learn a great deal from your supervisor, who will have extensive experience to share. Within the first year, depending on the company you are working for, it is likely that you will complete a safety training curriculum and further wind field service technician training. You can expect to gain a wide range of transferable skills. After only a few years you will be able to take up more senior roles and look forward to rapidly advancing your career within the industry.