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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Renewable Energy

Majors Overview December 10, 2013

Renewable energy involves usage of renewable resources, such as wind or sun, to power homes, buildings, and other structures normally powered by non-renewable resources. Those that want a career in this field can get introductory training from an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree program.

A.A. Programs in Renewable Energy

The renewable energy industry is a fairly recent phenomenon; those interested in earning a two-year associate’s degree in the subject can enroll into an Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Arts degree program in renewable energy technology. The program is also offered as a renewable energy specialization within a construction technology or electronics program.

Solar power and wind and other less-known energy sources are looked at broadly in these programs, which also look at current equipment that helps in converting the power into electricity. Coursework focuses attention on the principles related to the installation and maintenance of wind and solar power equipment, energy efficiency and building design and construction. Students are allowed to customize some programs that include renewable energy elective courses; other programs permit students to focus on a singular source of renewable energy.

Educational Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. They are expected to have completed at least a year of physics and two years of algebra, in high school. A background in plumbing, electrical, heating, and ventilation and air conditioning are recommended in some schools though this is not a mandatory requirement.


Coursework focuses on building construction and the science of electricity, in addition to major and general education classes. Classes often include hands-on experience with solar and wind power equipment. Coursework may include topic areas such as:

•Designing energy efficient buildings
•Economic and environmental impact of renewable energy
•Wind power turbine systems
•Renewable energy sources
•Solar-generated power
•Installing and maintaining electrical equipment

Career Choices

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began to identify occupations in the green industry, in 2010, and maintained statistics for publication in future. Graduates of an associate’s degree in renewable energy can seek various jobs including:

•Wind turbine installer
•Renewable energy sales representative
•Solar thermal system installer
•Renewable energy technician
•Photovoltaic (solar electricity) system installer

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

Those who complete the associate degree program may wish to pursue continued education by earning bachelor’s degrees in renewable energy areas such as renewable energy management, renewable energy engineering, or a general engineering degree with a renewable energy specialization. Some associate’s degree programs may allow transfer of credits.

Renewable energy professionals may have to obtain licensure in some states. Various credential programs for renewable energy jobs are offered by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Passage of a national exam, and some amount of education and work experience is necessary to obtaining certification for Small Wind Installer, Solar Thermal Installer, PV Installer and Photovoltaic (PV) Technical Sales. Resources for professionals and consumers in solar energy technology are offered resources by the American Solar Energy Society, in addition to information about alternative, renewable energy movements. Professionals and consumers can obtain information about the policy and technology for wind energy from the American Wind Energy Association.

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