Wind turbine technicians are hard to find. With rising pay and a thriving Iowa future, they shouldn't be.

Danny Lawhon

April 24, 2018

DANA, Ia. — The higher Tyler Humpfer climbed Friday, the further he felt like he could see into his future.

The 24-year-old from Ankeny was scaling a 264-foot tall, 1.6-megawatt wind turbine on a community-owned wind farm here, about an hour northwest of the Des Moines metro. He's a second-year student in Des Moines Area Community College's wind turbine technician program.

He was weeks away from graduation and days, hopefully, from a job offer.

As students looked around them, they counted several dozen more turbines in the distance. At 10 turbines per technician employed in the field, that translates to several jobs just in this tiny slice of Greene County.

So why in the world were only 18 students along for the ascent?

The money is good — last year’s median wage for a wind turbine technician was at $53,880, or almost $26 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For reference, that's more than $16,000 above last year's national median wage of $37,690 for all occupations ($18.12 per hour).

Don't worry about job security — wind turbine service technicians are projected to possess the second-fastest growing occupation in the country, per the BLS. Currently, about 5,800 technicians are employed nationwide. That number is expected to almost double by 2026.