System News Releases

Wisconsin Technical Colleges Mark Careers in Energy Week, October 12-16

September 28, 2015 | Ellen Pincus

Energy Fuels $65,000 Jobs for Tech Grads, Skilled Technicians In High Demand 

MADISON - Whether you're plugging in your smartphone or powering your business, you rely on energy. Who's ensuring its generation, transmission, and conservation? Who will replace the 53 percent of utility workers retiring, or preparing to retire within the next few years? The answers affect more than 900 companies in Wisconsin's growing energy sector, our economy, and our daily lives. In response, today the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) announced the statewide launch of Tech College Effect: Energy. The spotlight will offer events and promote awareness of diverse energy jobs from October 12 to October 16, and coincides with the Center for Energy Workforce Development, Careers in Energy Week. 
The Wisconsin Technical College System will be joining efforts nationwide, kicking off the event with a ribbon-cutting and open house for Chippewa Valley Technical College's (CVTC) new 46,000 square-foot Energy Education Center. The center will provide training for over 6,000 projected job openings and provide retraining for over 45,000 individuals already in the workforce in the CVTC area. The public is invited to explore the latest technology in alternative energy and efficiency, view the building's geothermal system on full display behind glass walls, see solar electricity production, learn how biodiesel fuel is made, check out the greenhouse, and more.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is inviting high school students for a day of electrical power and gas utility career exploration with pole climbing and demonstrations.  Milwaukee Area Technical College will hold a job fair with We Energies, Wisconsin's largest electric and gas company and partner in employment training. Other technical colleges will participate in a joint social media campaign to bring attention to an array of energy opportunities, from solar panel technicians to electrical line workers. 
Lakeshore Technical College wind energy instructor Jenny Heinzen climbs her way up the college's wind tower. Photo Manitowoc Herald
Electrical Power Distribution at WTCS
Electrical Power Distribution at WTCS
"Students are looking for careers with high starting pay and room for advancement," said WTCS President Morna Foy, who will attend the CVTV's Energy Center opening on September 28th.  "Utility employers are approaching us with retirement trends showing an increasing need for new talent, as well as training for incumbent energy workers. This is a timely focus on Wisconsin's energy sector." 

According to the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium Wisconsin's energy, power and control sectors employ over 100,000 people and generate $38 billion in annual sales. Salaries for Wisconsin technical college energy graduates top the colleges' self-reported earnings with median annual incomes for graduates in Gas Utility Construction and Service at $65,579, followed by $59,504 for Utilities Engineering Technology graduates.  Wind Energy Technology graduates earn a median income of $45,000.

WTCS prepares students and workers for careers across energy industry areas, in energy- specific programs such as photovoltaics to integrated, energy-related programming from agriscience to air-conditioning. One of many success stories is that of Cody Rye from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College's Utility Engineering Technology program. He received six job offers upon graduating and now works at Wisconsin Public Service. "People just don't understand how many jobs there are when you're coming from this program, how versatile it is."

All through the week the Wisconsin Technical College System will share energy career stories through social media. Follow on Twitter @WisTechColleges and @WTCAdvocacy, #TechEffectEnergy, and on Facebook.
For interview requests call Conor Smyth, Public Information Officer, Wisconsin Technical College System at (608) 266-2991 or email