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Green Jobs: Wind Power Provides Dream Job for Climbers

Jace Shoemaker-Galloway | Friday January 8th, 2010 | 10 Comments

Wind turbine rope access technicianWith a “high” unemployment rate, many people are scrambling to find a job.  Whether you or someone you know is hunting for work or simply considering a different career path, turbine maintenance is not only challenging, it is guaranteed to have you reaching for the stars.

Combining climbing and caving techniques with green technology, specialized rope access technicians, also called rope specialists, utilize their techniques to inspect, clean and repair wind turbines, reports the New York Times. According to rope-based service provider Ropeworks, “Rope access technicians descend, ascend and traverse ropes for access and work while suspended by a harness or a work seat.  For years, these fearless workers scaled the likes of oil rigs, skyscrapers, bridges and mountain cliffs.  But today, rope access technicians are keeping our green technology in good working order.

Like most mechanical products, wind turbines require maintenance and repair from time-to-time.  And with thousands of wind turbines currently in production in the United States, keeping those turbines blowing in the wind is paramount.   Inclement weather, ice buildup and bird strikes can cause damage to the giant fiberglass blades. Tower and blade maintenance includes weather caulking, painting, dent removal, blade cleaning and crack repairs, to name a few.  When turbines are not functioning properly or have to be shut down, dollars are wasted.

While no one has been seriously injured or killed on the job, there are risks.  Lightning, high winds and bad weather,  can shorten a workday. Extreme heat and cold can lead to dehydration or hypothermia. For safety reasons, rope access technicians work in pairs.

Although liability and insurance can be problematic, some small rope companies are embracing wind turbine work.  In fact, some companies specialize solely in wind turbine gigs.  In 1998, environmentalist Chris Bley met two climbers that changed his life. On a climb in Joshua Tree National Park, Robert Jatkowski and Frank Seltenheim were offering their climbing skills to companies who required work at hard-to-reach heights.  Bley was so inspired by their work, he founded Rope Partner.

As the need for wind energy grows, the demand for these specialized workers will most likely grow as well.  If you love the outdoors, don’t have a fear of heights, appreciate a spectacular view and are passionate about climbing, visit the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT).   And be sure to read the TriplePundit.com series on careers in wind farm development.

Photo Credit: Stan Tesee


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  • riggaccess

    Technicians working in Industrial Rope Access onshore and offshore worldwide can achieve a lucrative career, given the correct qualifications. The IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) Level 1 Rope Access ticket is the best place to start as it offers a truly global qualification which enables the technician to work anywhere.

    It’s a bit like getting the bus to work though so technicians will need other skills and qualifications to compliment their Rope Access qualifications.

    Types of work carried out using Rope Access are varied (the list is almost endless!) – common ones include:
    - Welding
    - Painting and blasting
    - NDT (Non Destructive Testing)
    - Mechanical repairs
    - Pipework

    We’ve been providing free information on all aspects of Rope Access since 1997 at http://www.rigg-access.com Check it out for further information, jobs, training and companies who offer this work.

  • http://GlobalPatriot.com GlobalPatriot

    Many people have the idea that you just toss up a wind turbine and let it run, but anything with moving parts is going to need maintenance, and with thousands of these devices slated to go up in the coming years there will be opportunities for those who like to climb…which does not include me!

  • http://www.pacebutler.com/ John at Cellphone Recycling

    Thank God I am not planning to change my career and no plans in climbing, but this is really something for those who are in need of a job, but of course, we should practice enough care when hired.

  • Farheen

    Both professional climbers and thrill seekers will surely love the challenge and thrill provided by turbine maintenance, and of course, its eco-friendly benefits!

  • https://www.jobsindubai.com/career.asp?qArticleID=32&page=3 Middle East Jobs

    This kind of job is a dream come true for climbers LOL!!! well this kind of job is quite risky besides of having a harness

  • bajeric

    search jobs
    elektrical secondary scull,industry climber specialist,works on dificult places wait using climber technology
    wasching the windows hight building,repair-paiting bridge,mast,tower,chimney i was also paiting falde bloks of flats-house,repair of night airilighting chimney,mast,tower,we have 2-3 workers,wel send your CV on reqest,english we speak limited+/www.bajeric.szm.sk

  • paul o'malley

    Wind turbines are the way, i applied for a job erecting turbines, only too be told i have no experiance i ask the kind lady too look again at my cv that i have worked and ejoyed compiling over the year, for me erecting a wind turbine too a flare stack its all the same if you understand the regulations that job comes under,she was very understanding and agreed with me , BUT and here where it all goes nipples up the main company recruting ppl too recruit ppl do not understand how we rope teqs good ones have come to be good, EXPERIANCE .I spoke to a friend he said lie to them and you would have got the job yes i may have but i nor any other teq worth his salt should have to lie when they have complicated,lifting, rope access jobs on there cv . The companys and recruiters have it wrong why because of knowledge they do not understand our work and untill they do they will aways have bullshite cv's and less experianced rope teqs bending the truthor telling lies, LIE'S cost company more in the long run.

  • paul o'malley

    Wind turbines are the way, i applied for a job erecting turbines, only too be told i have no experiance i ask the kind lady too look again at my cv that i have worked and ejoyed compiling over the year, for me erecting a wind turbine too a flare stack its all the same if you understand the regulations that job comes under,she was very understanding and agreed with me , BUT and here where it all goes nipples up the main company recruting ppl too recruit ppl do not understand how we rope teqs good ones have come to be good, EXPERIANCE .I spoke to a friend he said lie to them and you would have got the job yes i may have but i nor any other teq worth his salt should have to lie when they have complicated,lifting, rope access jobs on there cv . The companys and recruiters have it wrong why because of knowledge they do not understand our work and untill they do they will aways have bullshite cv's and less experianced rope teqs bending the truthor telling lies, LIE'S cost company more in the long run.

  • Stan Tehee

    http://picasaweb.google.com/114094516477471698263/WindTurbineFavorites#5507259744295478098

    If you are going to use my picture, please use the one with my name on it.

    Thanks,
    Stan

    • Jen Boynton

      Sorry about that Stan! I’ve updated the photo credit. It’s a great shot!

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