It can be hot in the summer and cold in winter. It's always windy. And you're working 100 metres off the ground as you collect data and troubleshoot maintenance issues. But the views are amazing – as is the knowledge that your work is contributing to a healthier planet.
Wind turbine maintenance technicians play an essential role in ensuring that wind farms operate safely and at maximum efficiency. And as more wind farms are installed worldwide, demand for certified technicians will only continue to grow.
That's where institutions like Northern Lights College play a critical role in the growing green economy. From its campus in Dawson Creek, the college offers B.C.'s only wind turbine maintenance technician program.
"Our students follow the BZEE-certified curriculum that was developed in Germany," says Mark Heartt, dean of trades and apprenticeship. "When our students graduate, they are eligible to write an exam to attain their BZEE certification, which gives them a credential recognized worldwide."
It's an intense 40-week program that covers the wide range of maintenance issues graduates will encounter – spanning mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems – as well as safety protocols such as learning how to rappel safely down a turbine tower. Students receive hands-on training on the college's 30-metre simulated wind turbine.
When the program started in 2010, there was only one wind farm in the region. By December 2016, there were five wind farm installations and close to 220 turbines throughout the province. Demand is also growing across Canada and around the world, where the number of wind energy installations is increasing at 22 per cent annually.
"Our wind turbine maintenance technician graduates complete the program, job ready, with strong employment prospects locally and abroad," says Mr. Heartt. "These are long-lasting jobs – the typical turbine has a life cycle of 25 years – that offer opportunities to advance into new roles or move to new locations."
This content was produced by Randall Anthony Communications, in partnership with The Globe and Mail's advertising department. The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.