We’ve written before about the rapidly growing Renewable Energy sector and the opportunities it has created from a jobseeker point of view. This is the case across the globe, especially in light of various ‘Net Zero’ government strategies.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on the role of Project Managers, covering a combination of Civil, Electrical and Mechanical engineering.
As global specialists with over a decade’s experience in Renewables, we’ve placed a lot of Project Managers. And right now, it’s an area where we are seeing more vacancies than ever. After all, the huge increase in demand for clean energy has meant there are countless initiatives and projects in place across the sector. Often, skilled Project managers are required for utility scale projects. These are large scale projects – typically involving solar energy or battery storage – which directly affect the power being fed into the grid.
So what does the role of Project Manager actually entail, and what do you need to succeed? Read on for answers to these questions and more.
What does a Project Manager in Renewables do?
As Project Manager, you will be overseeing Renewable Energy initiatives in their entirety, from inception to completion. This means planning and managing operations to ensure each phase of the project is done on time and within budget. A key part of this is allocating the right resources, to the right areas, at the right times.
You will probably hear the term Programme of Works (PoW) a fair bit. This is essentially a reference point for key stakeholders, laying out how work will be carried out and by what dates. As Project Manager, you will need to create these at a very detailed level and supervise the people in each phase to check they are not going out of scope.
A Project Manager’s role is very contact heavy. You will be liaising with internal and external stakeholders – including running your own project team - and have the main responsibility of supervising contractors. In addition, you will be the point of contact for suppliers, vendors and even authorities.
Some of your daily duties can involve:
- Conducting site investigations and feasibility studies
- Preparing and managing the project budget
- Developing and managing the project scope and timelines
- Producing progress reports on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
- Requesting and selecting proposals from subcontractors, including contract negotiations
- Identifying potential project risks and solutions
- Managing relationships with internal and external stakeholders
- Creating a handover document for the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) team
The typical salary for this role can range from £55,000 - £65,000 (dependant on experience). However, it’s also common for those at a very senior level to earn around £75,000.
What do I need to become a Project manager within Renewables?
As touched upon earlier, these are contact heavy roles which require lots of stakeholder liaising. That’s why some soft skills are absolutely key, such as strong communication and leadership ability. You’ll need to have excellent self-discipline and organisation skills, as the entire project will be based on important timelines – you are the one responsible for keeping everyone else on track. Also, the ability to make problem-solving decisions under time pressures is very useful and can give you the edge ahead of your fellow job seekers.
Qualifications wise, almost all roles will expect a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering or Civil Engineering. Typically, any of these will be accepted, but be sure to check each job description as some require specific degrees. Companies may also look at your professional qualifications, which is something we’ll touch on later.
You will also be expected to have 3-5 years’ experience, with a preference for those who have been involved in utility scale projects before. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t have this though – if you can demonstrate excellent knowledge of the Renewable Energy sector, particularly within solar energy and battery storage, then you’ll still have a fighting chance.
As with many Project Manager jobs, you will be working with various online documents and presentations, so at least a working knowledge of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Project will help. Finally, an additional language (particularly a European one) can come in handy as many companies have overseas projects within their portfolio.
How can I progress?
While the obvious step up is a Senior Project Manager, it’s important to look at the type of projects you are working towards. Sometimes you will find yourself working on larger and more complex ones, but your job title may not necessarily have the word ‘Senior’ at the start!
Often, however, the next rung on the ladder is that of a Senior Project Manager. Other job titles to look at include Head of Projects and Director of Projects – these come with more experience.
Many people undertake professional Project Management qualifications while they are working. The two most popular options are Prince2 and Association for Project Management (APM). The former is more framework based and provides you with best practice methods, while the latter teaches you how to apply your skills in a strategic and commercial environment. Some people decide to do both, but either will add value to your CV. Together with practical, on-the-job experience, you will find it easier to gain those senior opportunities.
You may also wish to take specific qualifications related to procurement. As mentioned in an earlier section, you will be sourcing proposals from subcontractors and negotiating contracts. The knowledge you’ll pick up from a procurement course alone could be invaluable, but an actual qualification adds another string to your bow.
As you progress, you could find yourself working either in a freelance capacity, or for an outsourcing firm where you are contracted out. These can see you working on short-term contracts at a substantial daily rate.
What’s the future for Renewable Energy?
Whether it’s government policies, climate activism, and even David Attenborough documentaries – the shift towards Renewable Energy has grown beyond expectations, and it will only get bigger. This means the projects and initiatives you could be working on will deliver a greater impact than ones in other industries.
Are you looking for work? You can see all of our current vacancies here: