6 Hydrogen Career Pathways for High School Students
Nowadays it’s more important than ever to give students the confidence they need to pursue a career in renewable energy. While students learn about the science behind hydrogen energy in the classroom, teachers must also give them a clear vision of what their future career might look like.
Whether this is in the factory, in the research lab, or in head office – the future hydrogen industry has a job for everyone.
1. Materials Scientist
Materials scientists will prove essential in the future hydrogen energy revolution. These scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels, while also investigating how these substances interact with one another. They use advanced knowledge in chemistry to test the quality of manufactured goods and develop new and improved products. For the hydrogen industry, this would involve testing new types of fuel cells, developing lighter hydrogen storage tanks and more efficient refuelling stations, and constructing new types of hydrogen transport vehicles from new materials.
In order to be a materials scientist, employees will need good analytical, critical thinking, math and time-management skills. The average salary for a materials scientist in the US was $ 100,090 in 2021.
2. Construction Manager
Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish. They report work process and budget matters to clients, they manage delays and others issues relating to production, and they collaborate with engineers, architects and other construction specialists. They must also hire subcontractors and schedule their activities.
In the hydrogen industry this would mean taking the lead in building an array of equipment such as fuel cell stacks, hydrogen trucks and cars, and advanced storage equipment. The essential skills required are technical skills, such as being able read technical drawings and understand construction methods, but also decision making skills (they must select subcontractors for specific tasks and jobs). This is in addition to analytical skills, where they are tasked with planning a project strategy and handling unexpected issues and delays. STEAM education will therefore prove indispensable in preparing students for both the technical and problem solving skills needed to embark on such a career.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual wage for a construction manager was $ 98,890 in 2021. In the hydrogen industry this is expected to be significantly higher.
3. Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineers will prove essential to the hydrogen energy revolution. These engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment. In the hydrogen sector, this would mean a strong focus on designing and testing the fuel cells needed for hydrogen trucks and cars.
They develop the standards and specifications needed in manufacturing, construction, and installation. They therefore need good concentration and mathematical skills, but also must be able to think flexibly, being able to apply existing knowledge to new, unforeseeable tasks. The job also requires writing skills as engineers must develop maintenance manuals, operation guides, product proposals and design methods documents.
The average salary was $ 104,820 in 2021.
United States Department of Energy, https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/careers-hydrogen-and-fuel-cells
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/data/tools.htm
Lawyers are needed in almost every walk of life, and hydrogen is no different. As the hydrogen industry is expected to greatly expand in the next decade, experts predict an increasing amount of litigation and disputes between the various hydrogen companies seeking to gain an increased market share. A lawyer in the hydrogen industry is therefore expected to help businesses protect copyrights and patents, while also defending their business from unfair competition. They may also perform common business tasks such as mergers and acquisitions.
A law degree is usually required, and the average salary in the US was $ 127,990 in 2021.
5. Computational Scientist
Computers and microchips are in almost everything these days. In the future hydrogen energy economy, hardware engineers will be expected to design new manufacturing equipment which contain computer chips. This is not to mention integrating microchips with hydrogen trucks, busses and cars. In creating these new computers and chips, computational scientists will be tasked with designing new computer hardware, creating designs of computer equipment to be built, as well as testing these models and updating the hardware.
The job therefore involves skills that both STEM and STEAM education will help develop. Not only does it require math and analytical skills in carrying out scientific experiments and studies, but computational scientists must be creative in designing new types of devices. They also need critical thinking skills, using logic and reasoning to identify alternative solutions to problems.
The average salary in the US was $ 128,170 in 2021, and depending on experience computational scientists can make upwards of $ 250,000.
6. Regulatory Expert
All energy companies need experts on regulations. But the hydrogen industry will need a lot more. An army of regulatory experts will be needed in order to understand the evolving government regulations around this emerging area of the economy. A typical regulatory expert does many things. They will keep up to date on various regulatory issues in the hydrogen industry. They will analyze how policy issues impact businesses. And they will provide updates and recommendations to people across an organization, such as senior management, sales, project development and marketing. Additionally, they may lobby state and federal officials during the law-making process to ensure all regulations take into account the concerns of their company.
The job requires communication skills, but also critical-thinking and analytical skills needed to write reports and explain policies. In 2021 the average salary was $ 122,510.