Careers in Geothermal

So just what kinds of jobs are there in the Geothermal Industry?

Contact engineering staff at the Te Mihi Power Station construction site. Photo courtesy of Contact.

The Geothermal Industry is growing in New Zealand. Geothermal energy is one of the best ways for this country to meet our growing energy demand – it is clean, renewable and reliable. As we move to combat climate change, the role of geothermal energy will only become more important.

The industry is largely based around the Taupō Volcanic Zone, but can also be found in other parts of the country such as Ngawha in Northland. Right now, the industry needs talented people with a broad range of skills across all facets of the geothermal business; from exploration and development, to production and management. Following is a sample of just some of the jobs available in the industry today:

Geology/Geothermal Geoscience
Reservoir Engineering/Modelling
Measurement & Monitoring
Planning & Scheduling
Outage Management
Health & Safety Advisory
Environmental Advisory
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Civil & Structural Engineering
Chemical and Process Engineering
Drilling Engineering
Project Control
Project Administration
Contract Management
Generation technicians
Generation controllers
Mechanical and Electrical Apprentices

What is the best way for me to get one of those jobs?

Completing a relevant university degree or entering an apprenticeship programme are the best ways to get a job in the geothermal industry. These are discussed further below. Remember that the Tauhara Geothermal Charitable Trust offers support for students in approved training programmes.

Apprenticeship Programme

Apprentices ant Contact Energy

Contact apprentice Tewiare Wilson employed within the geothermal business. Photo courtesy of Contact.

If you are just leaving school and not looking at going to university then an apprenticeship may be a good option to consider to enter the geothermal industry.

With the Contact Energy and Mighty River Power Electricity Supply Apprentice Programme, you’ll be learning and earning at the same time. As an apprentice you’ll gain the skills and qualifications for a lifetime career in the electricity supply industry – learning from the best in the business. Applications open in August each year.

To be considered for the apprenticeship programme you will have needed to have completed a minimum of NCEA Level 2 (Year 12) English, Maths and Science.

If you left school without those qualifications there is still the opportunity to get into an apprenticeship by undertaking pre trade courses at nearby polytechnics. If you are a pre-trade or pre-apprenticeship student you need a minimum of NCEA Level 1 merit standard, or NZQA Level 1 or 2 unit standards in English, Maths and Science.

Check out the following site where you can find a polytechnic near you which offers pre trade courses.

Apprentices are employed throughout Contact operations. Photo courtesy of Contact.

Undergraduate and Post graduate Studies

Contact graduate engineers Sophie Milloy, left, and Fabian Hanik, right, getting some steamfield information from Drilling Manager Mark Greene. Photo courtesy of Contact.

These days, most jobs in the geothermal industry need a university degree.

There are a wide variety of tertiary studies that will help you to get a job in the geothermal industry. And remember that the Tauhara Geothermal Charitable Trust offers support for students wanting to take up tertiary studies, particularly in the area of Earth Sciences, Geology, Geophysics, Environmental management and Engineering.

Some of the tertiary degrees that will help you get into the geothermal industry include BE(hons) [Bachelor of Engineering Honours – Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical, Earth Sciences), BSc (Bachelor of Science – geology, geophysics, environmental science, environmental management), BCom( Bachelor of Commerce - Finance, Human Relations, Marketing, Management)

You need to understand how to apply to a University and what qualifications you require for admission into the programme(s) you wish to study.

Some of the Universities have UTAS which is a targeted admission scheme for Māori, Pacific and Disabilities students. It reserves a number of places in undergraduate programmes for these students who have met the University Entrance (UE) standard but have not met the guaranteed entry score for the programme of their choice.

Find out about admission requirements and study options by talking to your school careers advisor, talking to someone in the geothermal industry or by visiting or talking with one of the Universities below. And if you whakapapa to Nga Hapu O Tauhara, don’t forget to apply for funding to help with course fees by making an application to the Tauhara Geothermal Charitable Trust.

University of Auckland

University of Canterbury

University of Waikato

Victoria University Wellington

AUT University

Manukau Institute of Technology

Massey University

Unitec Institute of Technology