Energy Careers in Wisconsin

getIntoEnergygif.pngAccording to the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), deployment of new technologies (namely transition from coal-fired generation to natural gas, solar and wind) and the role of energy efficiency are both contributors to job growth at the core of the 21st century economy. "The Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors employed 6.8 million people at the end of 2019, adding over 120,300 new jobs in total, outperforming the rest of the economy in job creation."

To back that up, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook (2019) projects renewable energy system installation and maintenance as two of the top three fastest growing careers between 2019-2029.

Notably, however, energy utility companies continue to face shortages due, in part to an aging workforce, in key career areas, such as line worker, power plant operator, generation technician, natural gas service technician and electrical/power engineer (Get Into Energy/Get Into STEM, 2021).

On top of that, Wisconsin energy employers state the top three reasons for difficulty in hiring (USEER, 2020) as:
  • Difficulty finding industry-specific knowledge, skills, and interest
  • Lack of experience, training, or technical skills
  • Competition/ small applicant pool
Educators play a critical role in introducing students to possible career paths. The Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) website has career profiles, videos, and skills tests related to energy careers. This PowerPoint presentation can be used to start a discussion and help students begin exploring careers in energy. 

Reach out to KEEP and we can help connect you with lessons, resources, local experts, classroom speakers, company tours, and more.
Energy Career Pathway 2022-24

The Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, and KEEP collaborated to revise the Energy Career Pathway and incorporate energy efficiency, renewable energy, and sustainability in the built environment.  The revised tool was published in November 2022 and will be considered for adoption by regional career pathway collaborative groups that identify a need for energy professionals in their areas of Wisconsin.

​Clean Energy Careers

Clean Energy Careers - Videos & Companion Lessons


Learn how Wisconsin's transition to a clean energy economy is accelerating new career paths. 

Slipstream partnered with KEEP, WPPI Energy, and Xcel Energy to create educational videos in support of local schools and to encourage young minds to consider career opportunities within the energy sector - especially the clean energy space. Join us for a behind the scences look into some of the careers on the front line of the clean energy future and the people that are making an impact every day here in Wisconsin. 

Watch the Series

  • Leading the Way with Policy
  • Solar Energy Careers featuring a Solar Project Manager and Solar O&M Technician
  • Home Performance Consultants and Energy Auditors
  • Exploring the Chippewa Valley Technical College's Electric Power Distribution Program
  • Utility Careers in Distribution - Featuring Electric Superintendent and Lineworker
  • Facility Operations in Healthcare 
  • Clean Energy Careers in Hydropower
  • Accelerating Careers in Electric Vehicles
  • HVAC Careers

Recommended for grades 6-12

Access Classroom Resources

Each link navigates to a Google slideshow that includes a link to student worksheet on Slide 3

​Additional Resources

Energy Career Profiles

Gas System Technician

Relay Technologist

Solar Installer

Wind Researcher

Careers in Energy Spotlights​

This series is brought to you by the Wisconsin Energy Workforce Consortium, made up of representatives from Wisconsin's utilities and electric cooperatives, technical colleges, universities, contractors, and state agencies such as the Department of Workforce Development, State Energy Office, and Department of Public Instruction.

 Torrance Kramer, Energy Auditor, Accurate-Airtight Exteriors

Torrance.jpgKEEP Staff (KS): How long have you been president of AAE?
Torrance Kramer (TK): I have been the president and owner of AAE for six years.

KS: How did you learn about this opportunity? What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
TK: I took classes that seemed to fit me and got a two-year liberal sciences degree. I went to MREA’s (Midwest Renewable Energy Association) energy fair, it was like a light went off for me and I realized this is what I want to do. I moved to the state of Oregon and started a two-year energy management program, and I was trained formally to do this type of work. After going through a few corporate careers and having my own successful consulting firm, I was able to take the capital from that business to buy AAE from a retiring owner. It was a natural fit for me because AAE originated in the Waupaca area where I am from.

KS: Tell me a little about AAE. How many employees and roles?
TK: When I purchased AAE, we had a staff of four people and now after six years we have a staff of fifteen people. We have heavily migrated the business to the Madison area, while still heavily working in the Fox Valley and Waupaca areas, and we are currently expanding AAE commercially across the state. AAE is unique in the sense we are not just a traditional home performance company. Our staff includes energy auditors, salespeople, variety of field staff with differing levels of experience in construction and trade, office, and purchasing staff. Field staff duties includes installing airtight materials (caulks, foams, sealants). In order to establish this type of work that needs to be done in the field, we have energy auditors that will run diagnostics (running the blower door and utilizing the infrared camera) as well as running estimations to determine the cost of the work. We do everything from the development to the final review. AAE has a couple tracks including home performance and energy audits on large commercial structures (churches, schools, clinics, grocery stores, farms) to see if they can modify equipment in the building to make it energy efficient.

KS: What is your schedule like and what do you do as the president?
TK:  I act in an owner capacity, president/general manager capacity but I am also an energy auditor and estimator, blower door tester, and a report writer. I am a workaholic, so I am working upwards to 60 hrs/wk. There is no distinct schedule for me day to day. But some things I am doing throughout the week includes handling calls with inspectors, reviewing job costs to see if the work we are doing is cost effective, checking in with teams, writing commercial reports and assisting in job site walkthroughs, utilizing blower doors, and handling employee reviews. My job is not monogamous, we are constantly finding unique and different ways to make buildings more energy efficient.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
TK: I went to a high school in Weyauwega, WI and predominately lived in the Waupaca area.

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
TK: I have an associate’s degree in Liberal Sciences from Madison Area Technical College, and I have an associate’s degree in Energy Management from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
TK: The degree program I took in Oregon was a direct correlation with the work I do. Many individuals come from non-related programs when working in energy efficient fields and my program was unique with having specialization in commercial and residential energy efficiency. I also had an internship doing energy audits which helped me along the way.

KS: Did you see yourself working in an energy-related field when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
TK: Ever since kindergarten, I have wanted to be in architecture. I was undirected in high school and I got into truck driving. I wanted to find a program fast that would make me money which I do not recommend. I ended up feeling unfilled with my work until I found my spark with energy efficiency.

KS: What is your favorite part of the position?
TK: I enjoy the training aspect because I am always wanting to share and grow this industry. But I am also vicariously living through my construction team as I enjoy evaluating a building to see how we can make a building more energy efficient.

KS: What is your least favorite part?
TK: The HR aspect of the business is a real challenge. I was trained in energy efficiency, so I did not have the experience handling the personal aspects of human resources that I have to deal with today.

KS: What is the most challenging part?
TK:  The people part of the business but that is more akin to me. For struggles with our field staff, building science can be difficult. Although, training can be my favorite, it can also be the challenging part when individuals are not open-minded about aspects of the job. Another challenge is people’s perspectives on contractors and not having the trust in the work you are doing.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
TK: I am looking to be more attentive to other parts of my business and to become more involved in committees. I am also looking at the construction aspect of my business to start operating more self-sufficiently so I can have the time to focus on new things.

KS: What do you think is the most important thing to do/learn in high school?
TK: Looking back at my life, I got peer pressured by my coach to get into football. It was not a driver for me when in all reality I should have been in band because I was more musically oriented. Another aspect is I took a lot of art classes as I was uncomfortable with some people I knew in shop class, so I did not take any shop classes. I am an owner of a construction business without taking a shop class in high school. Long story is, follow your heart and listen to that rather than what someone else pushes you to do.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
TK: Try a lot of different stuff. Take those classes that your heart desires and get in those groups. I do a lot of public speaking with my job so I would not be comfortable in that role without taking classes like theatre. One of my colleagues says, “You can’t get the dough without doing the show”.

 Anna Torgerson, Transmission Planning Engineer, American Transmission Company (ATC)

2019-Torgerson-(002).pngKEEP Staff (KS): How long have you been a Transmission Planning Engineer with ATC?
Anna Torgerson (AT): I have been a Transmission Planning Engineer for 2 years with ATC. I was hired straight out of college and had 3 summer internships with various departments within ATC.

KS: How did you learn about this opportunity? What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
AT:Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to work in the STEM (science technology engineering mathematics) field. I specifically chose electrical engineering because my dad is an electrical engineer in transmission planning.

KS: How many Transmission Planning Engineers are there within ATC?
AT: We have 34 planning engineers in 4 different groups: Economic Planning, Special Studies, Interconnection Planning, and Zone Planning. Economic Planning simulates the potential monetary benefit within the electrical market and compares that benefit to the cost of a project. If the project cost is lower than the benefit to customers, then it would be considered for construction. Special Studies works on a little bit of everything from interconnections to generator dynamic studies to regulatory functions. Interconnection Planning looks at the needs of new generator requests to the system and whether a transmission project is required. Zone Planning focuses on new load request projects for a customer area.

KS: What is your schedule like and what do you do as the Transmission Planning Engineer?
AT: I work 40 hours a week, Monday thru Friday only. I don’t have to work on weekends or on-call at all.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
AT: I grew up in La Crosse, Wis. and went to Central High School.

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
AT: I majored in Electrical Engineering with two emphasis in Power and Controls, also with a minor in Mathematics from UW-Platteville.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
AT: In high school I took as many math and physics classes that I could. Taking Calculus I in high school really helped me, because any job in engineering is based on mathematics. Having a firm foundation in math really furthered my college experience.

KS: Did you see yourself working in an energy-related field when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
AT: I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do in high school and was encouraged to become a nurse, but I ultimately chose a major that better suited my skill set and interests. I never thought I would become a Transmission Planning Engineer.

KS: What is your favorite part of the position?
AT: My favorite part of Transmission Planning is brainstorming new ideas and bouncing them off other people. We are always willing to discuss topics and teach each other new skills.

KS: What is your least favorite part?
AT: It seems like we are always limited on time to get projects and tasks completed.

KS: What is the most challenging part?
AT: The most challenging part is keeping up with all the changes and to the electrical grid and how we can better estimate those changes.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
AT: I will continue to work for ATC, hopefully in the same department.

KS: What do you think is the most important thing to do/learn in high school?
AT: High school is about learning who you are and what you are good at. Pursue classes and opportunities that you enjoy that align with a potential major and ultimately career path in the future.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
AT: Learn about your own interests and strengths in various topics/areas and don’t focus on what others are doing. Then, work on those strengths, pursue opportunities that enhance those skills and align that with a college major. Choose a career path that brings you joy, and don’t be afraid to branch out.

 Amy Wilke, System Control Operator, American Transmission Company (ATC)

Amy-Wilke-official-ATC.pngKEEP Staff (KS): How long have you been a System Control Operator with ATC?
Amy Wilke (AW): I started with ATC as an SCO in January this year (2019). I am currently in the training program which means I sit with another operator on shift and they help guide my decisions and learning. I expect to complete my final evaluation around February 2020.

KS: How did you learn about this opportunity? What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
AW: When I graduated from college, I had plans to go back to school to get my master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. I got a job with a municipal utility in Illinois as an Engineering Technician in order to gain residency (and qualify for in-state tuition). That was my introduction to the electric utility industry, and I was intrigued pretty quickly. From there, I became a distribution operator for a Wisconsin utility. I stayed in that role for a little over 5 years before moving on to the transmission System Control Operator role here at ATC. I never wound up going back to school.

KS: How many System Control Operators are there within ATC?
AW: Between the two control centers there are 28 SCOs and 8 Operators in Training. I am assigned to the Pewaukee location.

KS: What is your schedule like and what do you do as a System Control Operator?
AW: We maintain 24/7 coverage and work a rotating schedule of 12-hour shifts and 8-hour training days. This includes days, nights, weekends, and holidays. It averages out to 40 hours per week. As a System Control Operator my main responsibility is maintaining reliability of the bulk electric system by monitoring the status of the transmission system (the larger, higher voltage towers in the grid). What this means is I watch voltages and line loading to make sure that our system is meeting demand and remaining stable. I also am responsible for awareness of what work is going on within the system and making sure our crews are able to work safely. All of us SCOs work together in a team.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
AW: I went to Greenfield High School in Greenfield, Wis.

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
AW: I earned my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Marquette University.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
AW: Though my EE degree was focused on electronics, it still gave me a good understanding of how electricity works since classes covered DC and AC voltage applications. Some of the more specific classes I can think of are circuit theory, electromagnetic fields, electronic devices, analog electronics, and of course all the hands-on laboratory exercises associated with those classes.

KS: Did you see yourself working in an energy-related field when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
AW: I did not! Even with both parents working at a utility (telephone), I was oblivious to the options out there. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career; there was a time when I thought I would be a marine biologist. I have always enjoyed math and science, though, so went into engineering school undecided. The electrical classes stuck out to me most so that was the route I chose to pursue.

KS: What is your favorite part of the position?
AW: There is something exciting about energizing a new 345kV transmission line for the first time with a few mouse clicks. A lot of work goes in to getting to that point and it doesn’t happen very often. Day to day I’d say my favorite part is interacting with all our field personnel around the state. They are our eyes and ears and I learn a lot from them.

KS: What is your least favorite part?
AW: The 12-hour night shifts – I just get through them as best I can.

KS: What is the most challenging part?
It can be a bit of a balancing act when there’s multiple crews working in different areas at the same time and with everything else we are responsible for I’m constantly learning.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
AW: I’m still keen on environmental engineering practices and sustainability (that’s one of the things that drew me to ATC – check out their Solo-Driver™ project and their GrowSmart Pollinator Program!) so I hope to someday transition to a role with ATC that would better support that interest as well.

KS: What do you think is the most important thing to do/learn in high school?
AW: This is a tough question to answer because what I think is important may not be that important to someone else (except math, that follows you the rest of your life $$$). One thing I wish I would have learned how to do better while in high school is how to handle uncomfortable situations. It’s apparent in everything and it will never go away.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
AW: If something sounds interesting to you – try it! If it turns out you don’t like it, now you know. I took a construction class in high school that taught the basics of building a house and had a blast. Don’t be afraid to take a gap year before college if you need time to find something that interests you. Tech schools and trades are great options. Talk to family members and other trusted adults and find out what they do. Ask questions, you may be surprised what you find out.

 Hasan AbuLughod, Gas Major Projects Engineer, We Energies

Interview with Hasan AbuLughod, a Gas Major Projects Engineer with We Energies 

hasan.gifBorn and raised in Saukville, Wis., Hasan was homeschooled through high school, received his Associates degree from UW-Washington County and a BS in Civil Engineering with a water resources emphasis from UW-Milwaukee. He thought he'd find himself in the health field and would go to school to become a chiropractor because of his interest in the chiropractic philosophy of preventive care and his love of working with people. However, because of the variety of classes he took in high school, having part-time jobs, going on field trips, and shadowing people in their jobs, he constantly imagined himself fitting into all the different careers he was exposed to and found himself in the energy industry.

Hasan has been in this position for five years. It all started with a career fair he attended at his university which prompted him to apply for an engineering co-op position with We Energies as it offered a unique experience based on the nature of the work involved. A typical day for Hasan starts at 7 a.m. and includes the following activities and responsibilities:

•             Review and approve the design of natural gas pipe mains, services and related distribution facilities

•             Work with state, county and municipal officials to ensure timely construction

•             Identify and create non-stock material orders based on project requirements

•             Serve as a technical resource for field personnel and designers

His favorite part of the position is being involved with a large project from its inception to completion and realizing the amount of work that goes into making it successful. The most challenging part is the constant struggle to keep up with the workload and finding efficient ways to get work done well. In the next 5-10 years, Hasan plans to improve his skillset by continuing his education, on and off the job. He plans to use his experience and skills acquired over the years to manage teams to work efficiently and effectively wherever he ends up.

According to Hasan, the most important thing to do in high school is to really understand the basics of the subjects you're studying, even if you don’t see yourself moving in that direction beyond high school or care too deeply about the topic. The more basic knowledge about the world and how it works you can soak up early in your life, the more confident you will feel once you are out in the world making big life decisions.

Hasan's words of wisdom for current high school students:

"I too, started college having no idea what I wanted to do. Firstly, I would say don’t feel too pressured by that uncertainty as long as you are constantly evaluating where you see yourself fitting in the world of work.  Secondly, I would say keep your mind open to all the opportunities around you. Especially in college, get in contact with people in different professions and ask them about what it is that they do. Shadow people in careers you’ve thought about pursuing but haven’t the slightest clue about. You are doing your potential future self a disservice if you don’t at least look into these opportunities early to see whether or not you want to pursue a particular career path. Lastly, when it comes to your education remember to push yourself just beyond where you think your limit is because that extra amount of effort will be what propels you to the next level."

Thanks Hasan, for providing your story!

 Amanda Dagens, Intermediate Operations Engineer, American Transmission Company (ATC)

Interview with Amanda Dagens, Intermediate Operations Engineer, American Transmission Company (ATC)

Interview with Amanda Dagens, Intermediate Operations Engineer, American Transmission Company (ATC)
KEEP Staff (KS): How long have you been an Intermediate Operations Engineer with ATC?
Amanda Dagens (AD): I was an associate engineer for 18 months, I have been an Intermediate Operations Engineer for the last 7 months.

KS: How did you learn about this opportunity? What inspired you to pursue this line of work?
AD: My dad inspired me to join this line of work. He is a system control operator and ever since I was young I remember we would play ‘guess the voltage class of the transmission line’ when we would go on long drives.  I got hooked on the power industry at a young age.  I went on to intern for three summers at ATC which is how I became aware of the team that I am a part of today.

KS: What is your schedule like and what do you do as the Associate Operations Engineer?
AD: I work a standard 40 hour week, Monday to Friday.  With that said, the team I am in supports 24/7 operations so I am part of an on-call rotation that will provide 24/7 support to the real-time operators.  In my role I support system operations, I do day to day SCADA modeling, I am an administrator for out PI system information achieve, and I work with our neighboring entities for ICCP data exchange, among other tasks.
i. SCADA: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
SCADA is taking measurements every 2 seconds out in the field (at a substation) and sending it back to the real-time operators, basically it’s the operator’s eyes and ears.
ii. ICCP: Inter Control Center Protocol
ICCP is a way for different utility companies to share data is a safe, controlled and defined way.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
AD: I went to Westosha Central High School in Salem, Wis

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
AD: I went to UW-Platteville for my major in Electrical Engineering with emphasis in both Power and Controls with a minor in Business Administration.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
AD: In high school and college I think it’s important to take Math and Science classes, they are the foundation STEM degree.  I also think getting one of my emphasis in Power was very beneficial to my career.  Also do not underestimate the power of a good internship or co-op.  Real world experience is second to none.

KS: Did you see yourself working in an energy-related field when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
AD: As much as I was intrigued by the power industry at an early age it wasn’t until the beginning of my senior year of high school that I decided I wanted to work towards my Electrical Engineering degree.  For most of my high school years I had planned on getting a BS in biology or chemistry and then going to pharmacy school.  After some soul searching I realized that being in the power industry was really where I wanted to be, and I have never looked back since.

KS: What is your favorite part of the position?
AD: I LOVE working in a real-time environment.  Every day when I am driving into work I do not know what my day will hold.  Every day is different, new challenges, ups and downs.  I love knowing that I am a part of something bigger, one small piece of the giant puzzle that helps to keep the lights on.

KS: What is your least favorite part?
AD: My least favorite part of my job is the off-hours/late nights.  Working late, in the middle of the night, or on the weekends is not the most fun part of my job but it does not happen very often.

KS: What is the most challenging part?
AD: The most challenging part of my job is also one of the most exciting parts of my job, it’s the troubleshooting! In my role troubleshooting can mean many different things.  Although at times troubleshooting can be frustrating I work on a fantastic team that is always willing to help and every troubleshooting opportunity is a learning experience.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
AD: In 5-10 years I hope to continue to progress in my career, whether that is moving up in my job family or moving into a leadership role.  Either way I hope to become some sort of a leadership figure.  I am currently working on a leadership certificate and hope to keep putting what I have learned and am learning to good use.  Anyone at any age can be a leader.

KS: What do you think is the most important thing to do/learn in high school?
AD: Learn!  Be a sponge, and not just in high school.  Be open to suggestions and new opportunities.  If you have the chance to tour a company/facility, do it; if you have the chance to job shadow, do it! Real world experience is the best possible experience.  Take chances, keep busy and do a wide variety of things in high school. Do something that makes you stand out from the crowd.  For me I was in choir from grade school all the way through college; it was an escape for me as well as it shows future employers that I am well rounded and a creative thinker.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
AD: Experience lots of different things, talk to people out in the workplace, job shadow, keep an open mind, and always ask questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question and you are probably not the only person with that question.  Dream big and shoot for the stars, you can do it!

 Kevin Michetti, Electrical Power Distribution (EPD) Student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire

Kevin-Michetti.gifWhen Kevin was in high school, he didn't see himself pursuing an energy-related career since he had no idea what he wanted to do. He knew he didn't want a career that he wouldn't like so he waited and kept looking and found himself in the EPD program. After graduation in March, he plans to join an energy company as an apprentice lineman where he can practice his skills and further his education. His words of wisdom for the students is to stay focused and pursue a career that you will love doing.

 Tara Holm, Electrical Power Distribution (EPD) Student at Chippewa Valley Technical College, Eau Claire

Tara-Holm.gifMeet Tara Holm and Kevin Michetti, students at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire who are both pursuing careers in the Electrical Power Distribution field.

Tara has had two previous careers, one in family childcare and one in the airline industry, before deciding to pursue a career in the energy industry. Both careers were stepping stones to where she is now and both provided skill development that helped her become the professional she is today such as time management, budgeting, working with a wide-range of personalities, and prioritization of tasks and responsibilities. Tara's least favorite part of the training she is obtaining from CVTC is the carrying of her tool bag and belt full of tools to the pole field; however she is excited to earn a degree that not many can say they have and she can't wait to see the different possibilities this degree offers. Tara offers this piece of advice for high school students: the #1 most influential key to your high school years are the friends you hang out with. If you hang out with friends that settle and don't expect much from themselves, neither will you. Surround yourself with positive friends that see the world as a positive place to be, and you will find opportunities to create a better future. Expect great things from yourself.

 Abigail Wild, Electric Distribution Engineering Intern, Xcel Energy

Abigail Wild, Electric Distribution Engineering Intern at Xcel Energy


This month, our spotlight is on Abigail Wild, Electric Distribution Engineering Intern at Xcel Energy. Abigail was the recipient of a prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Power and Energy Scholarship (IEEE PES) John W Etsey Outstanding Award for Region 4, which consists of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin. She was one of seven recipients across the country! We hope your students are inspired by what she has to say about her experiences as a young professional in the energy field.

KEEP Staff (KS): How long have you been in an Intern with Xcel Energy?

Abigail Wild (AW): I began working for Xcel the summer of 2014. I’ve interned here for three summers and almost three years.

KS: How did you learn about this opportunity? What inspired you to apply?
AW: My dad has been a lineman at Xcel for over 25 years. In high school, he encouraged me to shadow some of the engineers at Xcel. After I completed my first year at college my dad informed me of an internship opportunity so I applied. I was uncertain about my career path at the time, and an internship seemed like a great opportunity to confirm whether or not I was on the right path. I was VERY glad I applied for the position because through my internship I was able to find my calling and passion for power engineering!

KS: Are you the only Electric Distribution Engineering Intern?
AW: I am not the only Electric Distribution Engineering intern- there are lots of engineering groups that fall under Electric Distribution Engineering; however, I am the only WI Distribution Planning and Strategy Engineering Intern.

KS: What is your schedule like and what do you do as the Electric Distribution Engineering Intern?
AW: I have had a unique internship because I was able to do projects for different groups. Since I began my internship freshman year of college, each summer I was able to transition to a different group of engineering- System Planning and Strategy, Distribution Area Engineering, and Substation field engineering. I work full time in the summer and part time in the school year. I am not always at my desk- there are plenty of opportunities for me to get out in the field and talk with other groups.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
AW: I went to high school at McDonell Central Catholic High School in Chippewa Falls WI.

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
AW: I am currently attending the University of St. Thomas in MN and plan on graduating with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Minor in Physics, and Emphasis in Power in May 2017.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
AW: Since I challenged myself in high school and had enough credit coming into college (through AP classes), my advisor encouraged me to take upper level engineering courses my freshman year which helped me get my internship so early in my career. I also was able to take graduate level courses starting sophomore year- such as Power Electronics and Power Systems. This was really beneficial because now, during my senior year, I can focus on working and finding a job rather than stress about the challenging classes normal seniors are taking at this time.

KS: Did you see yourself working in a utility/energy company when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
AW: My dad worked as a lineman for my entire life, but I honestly never pictured myself as an engineer at a utility until after I began my internship. Initially, I was torn between computer science and electrical engineering. I ended up choosing electrical engineering because I once I started taking the classes and working at my internship I realized my strengths and passions really aligned with electrical engineering rather than computer science.

KS: What is your favorite part of the position?
AW: Energy is essential to society. The work I do impacts everyone, so it is really fun coming up with cost-effective solutions that bring reliable power to people.  

KS: What is your least favorite part?
AW: My least favorite part is when I’m working intensely on a project and I forget to get up from my chair and go talk to people. Conversations are so essential to any career and the discussions you have with your fellow employees will only benefit you and the project you are working.

KS: What is the most challenging part?
AW: There is always something new to learn- which excites and challenges me. I never will get bored because there is always going to be a project, webinar, conference, or new technology to learn from.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
AW: In 5-10 years I see myself working within the energy industry with a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering & Professional Engineering License. Hopefully I’ll be mentoring new interns fresh out of high school!

KS: What do you think is the most important thing to do/learn in high school?
AW: Challenge yourself. If you are bored or feel like the stuff you are doing in high school is pointless, try to find ways to bring purpose to the work you are doing by challenging yourself. For example, the school I attended didn’t offer any computer science classes so I took an independent AP Computer Science and bought “programming for dummies” books in order to teach myself how to code. Aside from classes, challenge yourself in the extracurricular activities you participate in. School is important, but the extracurricular activities you participate in really shape who you are as a person and differentiate yourself from others. Along with electrical engineering, I am extremely passionate about music. In high school, I participated in choir, band, musical theater, and took voice and instrument lessons. Because I challenged myself musically in high school I was able to join one of the top choirs at the University of St. Thomas, I can volunteer as an accompanist or cantor at my church, and I have awesome presentation skills because I don’t get as nervous speaking in front of a large audience.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
AW: 1) Talk to people. If you think you are even slightly interested in a career path, reach out to someone who has already taken that career path and ask them questions about what they like/don’t like about their job. 2) Find an internship right away. Some companies even offer internships to high school students. An internship will allow you to work with people and projects that will tell you what you like (or don’t like) about a job. 3) If you are leaning towards a certain major, start taking applicable classes right away. Some students aren’t getting into their field of study courses until junior year- avoid that if possible. I was unsure going into college if I wanted to major in computer science or electrical engineering. I talked to my advisor and he encouraged me to take several classes that would expose me to both areas so I could make a better decision earlier on in my college career. 

 Katy Vike, Writer/Editor, WPPI Energy

Katy-Vike-Picture.gifMeet Katy Vike, writer/editor at WPPI Energy in Sun Prairie, Wis. Katy is pretty new to the energy industry and has only been in this position for about eight months.

Prior to that, she worked as a marketer for a software company, and prior to that worked in communications at a non-profit organization.

We interviewed Katy to understand how she landed a career as a writer/editor in an energy company and why it's so vital for energy companies to employ writers and editors.

KEEP Staff: What do you do on a daily basis as a writer/editor?
Katy Vike: I write articles, help our member utilities write press releases, edit content from member utilities and other WPPI Energy departments for grammar and messaging, coordinate production of reports, occasionally do some layout and graphic design work, and work with the Communications Director to ensure that WPPI Energy's communications and public relations efforts are consistent and professional.

KS: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
KV: I'm from Stoughton, Wisconsin, and I went to Stoughton High School.

KS: Where did you go to college and what did you major in?
KV: I attended college at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin and majored in English.

KS: Were there any classes you took or skills that you obtained from school that helped you get this position?
KV: I had a couple of English teachers in high school who inspired me to pursue my love of writing and also introduced me and my classmates to some great literature. Later on in college, I was on the staff of the school paper and did several journalism internships, which helped me develop some of the practical skills needed to find, structure, and write stories.

KS: Did you see yourself working in a utility/energy company when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
KV: No, I don't think I would have ever imagined it! I love music and thought for a time I would be a musician. Otherwise, I thought I would be a journalist or book editor. 

KS: What is your favorite part of the job (so far)?
KV: My favorite part of the job has been traveling to our member communities and meeting the local utility employees. These people are some of the hardest working and humblest people I've ever met. They have great stories to tell, and I enjoy helping them share those stories.

KS: What is your least favorite part? 
KV: The job requires a lot of concentration and sitting. I get antsy occasionally.

KS:  What is the most challenging part of the job?
KV: Since we support 51 member utilities, I never know when I'll get requests for press releases and other projects. When requests come in, they're usually for smaller projects with a shorter deadline. At the same time, though, I have to make sure I'm following a tight editorial schedule in order to get everything done for the larger publications WPPI Energy puts out.

KS: Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
KV: Honestly, I don't know. There have been so many things that have happened in the last 5-10 years that I never saw coming, and that will probably be the case for the next 5-10. Life is funny that way.

KS: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be?
KV: Don't stress out too much about it. There's no set deadline for figuring this stuff out, and honestly the older you get the more you realize that everyone feels like they don't have it together in one way or another.

Parting Words: Also, remember that your job is only a part of who you are as a person. It doesn't define you. You'll probably have several in your lifetime. Be kind, explore your interests, and stay true to your principles. That will help you be happy no matter what your job title is. 


 Kongmeng Soung, Line Technician, Alliant Energy


    Spotlight: Kongmeng Soung

    To acknowledge Careers in Energy Week (Oct. 17-21), we interviewed Alliant Energy Line Technician, Kongmeng Soung, from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    This is a career that many people first think of when they think of energy. Line technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining electrical poles and transmission towers. Those interested in math and engineering would love here .

    Learn how Soung became interested in a career in the energy field, what his favorite and most challenging aspects of the work is, and what advice he has for students who have no idea what they want to do after high school.

    • KEEP Staff: Why did you become a lineman? Did someone introduce you to this line of work?
      Soung: I actually was not introduce to line work. Right after high school I began working as a concrete flat worker. After eight years of that I decided to jump back into school to pursue a different career.

    • KEEP Staff: How long have you been a lineman?
      Soung: It will be eight years with Alliant Energy coming up here in November 2016.

    • KEEP Staff: Where did you go to high school/what city are you from?
      Soung: I'm from Green Bay, Wisconsin and attended high school at Green Bay East.

    • KEEP Staff: Where did you get your training to become a line technician?
      Soung: I took a nine month course at NWTC in Green Bay. From there on I was hired with Alliant Energy and went through a four year apprenticeship.

    • KEEP Staff: Did you see yourself in this line of work when you were in high school? If not, what did you think you would do for a career and why?
      Soung: I did not, just for the reason that I really didn't know about these type of careers. In high school and just growing up we were always taught to pursue a four year and up college degree (which if you can, do it). I probably would've stayed as a flat worker laying concrete had it not been for my brother who works at the tech college. He mentioned to me that there was a course, Electric Power Distribution, at NWTC that I should check out since I enjoyed working outside. I'm glad I did and now I have a career that I enjoy very much!

    • KEEP Staff: What is your favorite part about the job?
      Soung: I do like that I get to travel around Wisconsin. Yes Wisconsin! (Believe it or not Wisconsin is a pretty sweet state!)

    • KEEP Staff: What is your least favorite part?
      Soung: Least favorite? I can't say anything bad at all. I mean we do work some crazy hours sometimes with storms and all, but that all comes with the job and it's not bad at all. It actually makes it more interesting!

    • KEEP Staff: What is the most challenging part of the job? Soung: Keeping everyone safe. We work with high voltages. You have to watch each others back making sure that everyone follows the correct safety procedures before doing the work.

    • KEEP Staff: Now that you’ve been in this line of work for a while, is there anything that surprises you about this type of work? Soung: It's different with every job that we run into. Sometimes you get the nice easy going projects, where it's kind of repetitive, then other times you get a project where you have to adapt and overcome because of the obstacles that can get in the way. Then there's the storms that come through that puts people out of power, that's when it gets really interesting!

    • KEEP Staff: Any words of wisdom or advice for students in high school who have no idea what they want to be? Soung: There are so many different types of programs and careers out there! How do you know you won't like it if you don't try it?! Continue to further your education, whether in a skills/trades or a degree. You won't regret it! I didn't...

      To learn more about this career and other careers in the energy industry, visit or watch this video provided by Alliant Energy.


Careers in the energy industry are not only about climbing poles or working in a power plant. The energy industry is full of opportunities for people will all different skill sets. One career in the energy industry that your students might be interested in learning about is that of an accountant. Accountants are the financial backbone of any business. If you enjoy working with numbers and finding solutions, this career might be the perfect fit. A nice thing about this career is that you can enter the field with education at every degree level, which means you can grow into the career. An associate's degree will prepare you for an entry-level position while a bachelor's degree will provide a greater base of knowledge. Many of the 2- and 4-year universities in Wisconsin will have an accounting degree for you! And be sure to check into the minors that are available that could be paired with an accounting degree. For example, you could major in accounting at UW-Stevens Point while also earning a Sustainable Energy minor​, a direct pathway for a career in the energy industry.


 Wind Energy

Careers-in-Energy-Spotlight---Wind-Energy.gifMany occupations, businesses, and public services (such as utilities) result from the development and use of renewable energy resources. From sizing a wind system to performing routine maintenance, it takes skilled people to support renewable energy systems. There are many dealers, manufacturers, auditors, and maintenance people involved. In general, there are four main areas of careers involved in renewable energy. These include jobs related to system design and manufacturing, siting the location of the system, installing the system, and finally, operating and maintaining the system.

Some career titles of those working in the wind industry are: Utility Engineers, Geophysical Engineers, Concrete/Structural Engineering, Turbine Engineering, Site/Civil Engineering, Microelectronic/Computer Programming, Business Expertise (Financial), Legal Expertise, and Meteorologists. 

To learn more about the countless opportunities in the wind industry, visit the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) or Lakeshore Technical College for training opportunities. This video provides a good preview of Faces of Green Jobs: Wind Energy Provides Stable Middle Class Jobs in America's Heartland.

 Gas Utility Worker

Training in the Gas Utility field has the potential for employment in the following areas:

  • Propane Gas Delivery Person
  • New Customer Tank and Cylinder Installer
  • Gas Construction Mechanic
  • Gas Meter Mechanic
  • Gas Clerk Estimator
  • Gas Regulator Maintenance Mechanic
  • Gas Appliance Repair Mechanic
  • Underground Facilities Locator


gas-utility-worker.gifThe Gas Utility Construction and Service program at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) is the only gas program in Wisconsin and only one of three in the United States. This program prepares students to install, maintain, and operate natural and propane gas distribution systems used to supply residential, commercial, and industrial customers. Graduates of the Gas Utility Construction and Service program will be able to communicate technical information, operate tools and equipment, join pipe, install propane gas distribution systems, install natural gas distribution systems, and maintain gas distribution systems. See more at:

A Gas Utility Worker’s average starting salary is over $65,000 (FT Median Annual Wage according to NWTC website). 

Intercon Construction is a leading energy-related utility contractor based out of Waunakee, Wisconsin. A woman-owned business, InterCon has developed expertise in all areas of underground work, from gas and electric distribution and transmission to horizontal directional drilling. Learn more about the company and employment opportunities at​

 Technical Desig​n & Technical Engineering

This month's Careers in Energy Spotlight is on the field of Technical Design or Technical Engineering. Are your students interested in the utility industry from power generation through transmission and distribution? They may be future designers, coordinators, planners, construction supervisors, project managers, estimators and equipment maintenance technicians, substation test (relay) technicians.


Potential careers in this field may include exciting work in the following areas:

• Systems Control & Relay Technician: installs, tests, adjusts, calibrates, repairs, and troubleshoots electrical power systems, protective relays, controls, alarms, metering, remote controls and telemetering equipment.

• Substation Technician: installs, tests, adjusts and repairs power transformers, loads tap changers, potential transformers, current transformers, high voltage switchgears, battery and charger systems and control equipment used in substations.

• Distribution Systems Designer: designs systems for construction and maintenance of natural gas and electric systems.

• Power Plant Instrument Technician: analyzes and repairs electrical and instrumentation/controls hardware and software in a power generation plant.

• Relay Technologist: ensures safe and effective operation of transmissions, distribution and generation facilities by calibrating, testing, maintaining and repairing protective and auxiliary relays, relay systems and associated communication equipment.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) provides an Associate degree program for students interested in this energy field. Learn more about the Utilities Engineering Technology Associate degree at

Spotlight: Cody Rye, Substation Designer, Wisconsin Public Service

cody.gifCody Rye had two dreams growing up: working in the energy industry like his dad and playing football. And though he uses a wheelchair most of the time after being paralyzed from the waist down after a car accident when he was five - through physical therapy and rehabilitation he is now paralyzed from the ankles down - Cody has achieved both of those dreams.

After graduating from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College’s Utilities Engineering Technology program he landed a job as a substation designer with Wisconsin Public Service. Of the energy industry, Cody says most people don’t understand how many jobs are available. In fact, according to NWTC, the energy industry is one with more job opportunities than nearly any other. And while Cody is still receiving calls about other open positions, he says he is happy where he’s at.


To read more about Cody’s story, watch​

 Power Plant Maintenance Mechanic

Power Plant Maintenance Mechanics analyze, install, maintain, and repair mechanical equipment. Careers such as this require a two-year technical college mechanical degree and skills such as operating various types of equipment including cranes, heavy equipment, and other skills related to mechanical repairs. The starting pay for this type of position is between $20-$26/hour.

Learn what it's like to work in a We Energies power plant by viewing their YouTube video. Go to the We Energies Careers section​ for more information.
Search for Maintenance Mechanic on the Wisconsin Technical College System website​.

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​Classroom Speakers and Company Tours

KEEP recommendations including career-based experiences, such as classroom speakers and company tours, as part of your classroom career explorations. Contact us to help you connect directly with energy career professionals and opportunities from your local energy utility company, renewable energy contractors, school district facility or engineering personnel, and other companies and businesses.