Career Advancement and Assessment in Energy Engineering


The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) has helped define the profession of energy engineering through continuing education programs and journals. Association of Energy Engineers provides many networking opportunities through local chapters. This entry details continuing education programs available through AEE, the salary structure of energy professionals, and achieving excellence through certifications.


The profession of energy engineering has gained new importance for several important factors. First, global warming is now considered a reality, and there is a need to reduce greenhouse gases by applying energy-efficient technologies. In addition, surging energy prices have caused companies to evaluate how they use energy and to reduce operating costs. A third factor is the reliability of the electric power grid. In the summer of 2006, blackouts occurred in Queens, New York and other parts of the country. Energy engineering professionals play a key role in reducing the need for power generation and distribution lines. The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) is dedicated to improving the practice of energy engineering through certification programs, continuing education programs, and networking opportunities through 44 chapters throughout the world.

The profession of energy engineering is relatively new. The oil embargo of the early 1970s created a demand for engineers who can apply the latest energy efficiency technologies to reduce demand in buildings and industrial processes. Most colleges do not offer degrees in energy engineering. An individual pursuing this profession usually attends courses presented by universities and associations, and receives on-the-job training. Some universities—such as Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, and the University of Wisconsin—offer graduate courses in energy engineering and management.


The AEE was founded in 1977 as a 501 c(6) not-for-profit professional society. The purpose of the AEE is to promote the scientific and educational aspects of those engaged in the energy industry. In the 1970s, the profession of energy engineering and energy management was new. The AEE defined the important functions energy engineers and managers perform and played a key role in the professions’ development.

One of the AEE’s first tasks was to create an authoritative journal that would guide energy engineers in applying new energy-efficient technologies and applications. The Energy Engineering journal was born out of this need and currently is edited by noted authority Dr. Wayne Turner.

The AEE recognized that energy engineers need both technical and management skills. Energy engineers need a broad understanding of fuels procurement, commodity, and risk management, as well as organizational and motivational skills. The Strategic Planning for Energy and the Environment journal, also edited by Dr. Wayne Turner, was developed by the AEE to meet this need.

To help energy engineers meet the challenges of power reliability and the development of new energy supplies, the AEE launched the Cogeneration and Distributed Generation journal, currently edited by Dr. Steven Parker.

Today, the AEE’s network includes 8500 members in 77 countries, with chapters in 69 cities.

The AEE presents numerous training and certification programs to help energy engineers reach their potential.


The AEE conducted a salary survey of its 8500 members in 2005. The results of the salary survey follow.


Only those who were employed full time as of January 1, 2005 were surveyed.

Please input your base salary (to the nearest $10,000) as of January 1, 2004, to January 1, 2005 (exclude bonus, overtime, fees, and income from secondary employment).


Base Salary Total Percentage
$20,000 to $30,000 3 0.65%
$30,000 to $40,000 5 1.08%
$40,000 to $50,000 17 3.66%
$50,000 to $60,000 47 10.13%
$60,000 to $70,000 82 17.67%
$70,000 to $80,000 99 21.34%
$80,000 to $90,000 78 16.81%
$90,000 to $100,000 56 12.07%
$100,000 to $110,000 36 7.76%
$110,000 to $120,000 13 2.80%
$120,000 to $130,000 9 1.94%
$130,000 to $140,000 5 1.08%
$140,000 to $150,000 5 1.08%
Over $150,000 9 1.94%

Average Annual Salary: $85,625.00. 2. Please input your additional income (to the nearest $1000) from primary job, such as bonus, overtime, and fees as of January 1, 2004 to January 1, 2005.

Average Annual Bonus Amount: $14,274.07. 3. Are you a graduate from a 4-year accredited college?

4. Do you have a post-graduate degree from an accredited college?



5. Are you a registered Professional Engineer or Architect?

6. Do you hold a valid certification from AEE, such as a Certified Energy Manager (CEM), Energy Manager In Training (EMIT), Certified Lighting Efficiency Professional (CLEP), Certified Power Quality (CPQ), Certified Building Commissioning Professional (CBCP), Distributed Generation Certified Professional (DGCP), Certified Measurement & Verification Professional (CMVP), Certified Demand Side Manager (CDSM), Certified Cogeneration Professional (CCP), Certified Energy Procurement (CEP), Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional (CIAQP), Certified Indoor Air Quality Technician (CIAQT), Certified Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (CTAB) or Certified GeoExchange Designer (CGD)?



7. Because you have assumed energy management responsibilities at your company, are you: A Receiving significantly higher compensation than before? B Receiving higher visibility? C In a better position for advancement?


8. Is your company currently:


11. How many years have you been a member of the Association of Energy Engineers?




12. Please identify the location where you are employed.

10. How many of those years have you been involved in energy management?

Most professionals practicing in the energy engineering industry do not have a degree in this field. Specialty certification programs developed by the AEE and other professional organizations offer the following benefits:

• Certification is part of total quality management. When an individual becomes certified in a designated field, his or her professional achievement is recognized in the eyes of colleagues, government agencies, present and prospective employers, and clients.

• Certification establishes a standard of professional competence that is recognized throughout the industry.

• Certification fosters development of the individual’s capabilities through encouragement of long-term career goals.

• Certification promotes quality through continuing education to ensure a high level of competence within constantly changing fields.



The Certified Energy Manager (CEM) program is broad based and emphasizes the technical aspects of what energy managers in government and the private sector need to know. The Certified Energy Manager represents a “who’s who” of energy management. Since 1982, more than 6400 individuals have gained the status of CEM.

9. How many years of experience do you have?


The Certified Business Energy Professional (BEP) program awards special recognition to those business/ marketing and energy professionals who have demonstrated a high level of competence and ethical fitness for business/marketing and energy management-related disciplines, as well as laws governing and affecting energy professionals.

The Certified Lighting Efficiency Professional (CLEP) program was developed to identify specialists in lighting efficiency. This program is also recognized as meeting the certification requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Lights Lighting Management Company Ally program.

The Certified Indoor Air Quality Professional (CIAQP) program is designed to meet the growing needs of businesses to identify qualified indoor-air-quality practitioners who are equipped to solve problems created by “sick buildings,” as well as facility managers who are responsible for operating healthy buildings while maintaining comfort and reducing energy costs.

The Certified Power Quality Professional (CPQ) program demonstrates the interactions between the power source and sensitive loads in the field of power quality and reliability.

The Certified Geoexchange Designer (CGD) program is designed to recognize professionals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in applying the principles and practices of geothermal heat pump design and related disciplines. The CGD certification is granted by the AEE and sponsored by the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium (GHPC). Associated training programs are presented by the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA).

The Certified Energy Procurement Professional (CEP) program covers the acquisition of both electricity and natural gas from the purchasing/procurement and selling/ marketing perspectives.

The Distributed Generation Certified Professional (DGCP) program identifies individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness, bringing to their professional activities the full scope of knowledge essential to the effective development and management of today’s distributed generation projects.

The Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) program was established by the AEE in cooperation with the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP), with the dual purpose of recognizing the most qualified professionals in this growing area of the energy industry, as well as raising overall professional standards within the measurement and verification field.

The Certified Building Commissioning Professional (CBCP) program was developed with the dual purpose of recognizing the most highly qualified professionals in this rapidly expanding area within the industry and raising overall professional standards in the building-commissioning field.

The Certified Hotel Environmental Manager (CHEM) program is designed for the multiple purposes of raising the professional standards of those engaged in hotel environmental management, identifying individuals with acceptable knowledge of the principles and practices of hotel environmental management, and awarding those individuals special recognition for demonstrating a high level of competence and ethical fitness in hotel environmental management. Sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the CHEM certification is granted by the AEE. The associated training program is presented by PA Consulting Group.

The Emissions Trading Certified Professional (ETC) program is designed to award special recognition to professionals who have demonstrated a high level of knowledge, experience, competence, and ethical fitness covering the full spectrum of activities related to the trading of emissions allowances and evaluation of emissions credits. By obtaining the ETC credential, the individual establishes his or her status as a qualified expert in this growing area of specialized expertise.


Each program requires the individual to complete an application, which includes requests for the following information:

• Demonstrated experience in the field. Each program specifies the minimum experience levels required. Employee or client verification is also required.

• Documented education or professional registration.

• Professional references to verify experience and qualifications.

In addition, the individual must complete a four-hour open-topic examination. The exam consists of multiple-choice and true/false questions. The actual test questions are framed to ascertain both specific knowledge and practical experience. Sample questions and study guides are available from the AEE. The completed application and test score weigh equally in determining whether the individual meets certification requirements; both are reviewed by the governing board of the specific program.


The AEE offers a wide range of training options. Each training option offers Continuing Education Units (CEUs), which are important for documenting courses successfully completed (one CEU equals ten professional development hours [pdh]). In addition, a certificate of participation is awarded.

In 2005, 27 states required CEUs as a prerequisite for renewal of professional engineering licenses. Programs offered by the AEE include:

• Live seminars. The AEE presents a wide range of courses in cities across the nation. Several seminars are designed to prepare students for the professional certification examinations. Live programs offer an optimum learning environment with ample time to interact with the instructor, as well as colleagues in attendance.

• In-house seminars. Most of the live seminars, including professional certification training programs, can also be presented at company facilities around the world.

• Online real-time training (synchronous). Students can participate in a real-time seminar at the office or at home with access to the Internet and a telephone. Students communicate with the instructor through a scheduled conference call and view the instructor’s Microsoft PowerPoint presentation via the Internet.

• Self-paced online training (asynchronous). Each student receives a workbook containing the training materials and examination questions and completes the training at his or her own pace. The students who pass the online examination receive a certificate of course completion and are awarded CEUs. Students can interact with the instructor and fellow students during regularly scheduled chat sessions.

• 24/7 online training (asynchronous). The course material is accessed online 24 hr a day for up to 30 days. The students who pass the online examination are able to print a certificate of course completion and are awarded CEUs.

• Conferences and expositions. The AEE offers three conferences and expositions each year. The purpose is to present the latest technologies and applications by leading experts in the field. The flagship event presented by the AEE is the World Energy Engineering Congress (WEEC).


The future of the energy engineering profession is in developing new talent through student programs. The AEE encourages student participation as follows:

• Student membership. Student members receive all publications and can participate at a reduced rate of $15 annually. Dues are subsidized by the AEE.

• Student chapters. Networking with fellow classmates and seasoned professions is accomplished through student chapters across the nation.

• Scholarships. To help students further their educations in the field of energy engineering, scholarships are offered. The Foundation of the AEE is a 501 (c)3 not-for-profit corporation. Since its inception, the AEE has awarded $480,000 in scholarships.


The energy engineering profession continues to grow. The need for energy efficiency has never been greater, due to the following circumstances.


• Since 1985, imports of refined petroleum products have increased by 34%. Today, the total import of oil is 56.8%. The volatility in the Middle East and other foreign sources of supply has led to disruptions in the availability of oil and higher prices. By mid-2005, oil prices spiraled to more than $60 per barrel.

• Since 1970, U.S. production of crude oil has declined from 9.6 to 5.8 million barrels per day. While, consumption has increased from 14.7 to 20 million barrels per day. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has tightened supplies in the past, causing gasoline and oil prices to spiral. The “war on terrorism” will cause further instability in the Middle East and prioritize this nation’s need to be energy secure.

• The power blackout of 2003 affecting New York, Detroit, and other major cities indicates that the present transmission grid is congested, outdated, and in dire need of overhaul. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, electricity use will increase 22% by 2010, placing further demands on an obsolete transmission grid.

• The long-term price of natural gas in the United States has more than doubled over the past six years. U.S. natural gas production history shows that new wells are being depleted more quickly all the time; the current decline rate is 28% per year. Although this is partially due to growing demand, it is also due to the fact that the large fields of natural gas are all aging and in terminal decline. Newer natural gas fields tend to be smaller and are produced (and depleted) quickly in the effort to maintain overall production levels. Production from wells drilled in 2003 has been declining at a rate of 23% per year.


Energy efficiency improvements have had a major impact on companies’ profitability, decreasing energy usage, and reducing greenhouse gasses. Over the past 25 years, per capita use of energy has declined 0.8%. A continuing drive for energy efficiency can help keep prices down and buy the nation time to address critical supply problems.

Energy efficiency programs have saved consumers more than $25 billion a year while improving the quality of life. Energy efficiency saved 70 quadrillion Btu from 1972 to 1999.

Energy efficiency technologies can also give the nation time to rebuild and modernize the electric transmission infrastructure.


The U.S. electric generation and transmission system is 70 years old and is based on technologies from the 1950s. The electric transmission grid consists of approximately 160,000 mi of high-voltage transmission lines and is in dire need of replacement and expansion. The power blackout of 2003 and the conclusions reached by the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) indicate that the nation is fast approaching a crisis stage with respect to the reliability of the transmission grids.

The transmission grid has become a “superhighway” for electric utilities to buy and sell power. Congestion from the increased flow of electricity over great distances is now a reality. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has identified causes of congestion, including:

• insufficient transmission lines to match electricity generated

• inadequate transmission capacity to meet demand

According to the Edison Electric Institute:

“Between 1979 and 1989, transmission capacity grew at a slightly faster rate than the demand for electricity during peak periods. But in the subsequent years, infrastructure needs did not keep up with that demand. To handle the requirements that the transmission system expects over the next 10 years, about 27,000 GW-mi are required; however, only 6000 GW-mi are planned.”


The AEE has played a vital role in developing the energy engineering profession. Through training and certification programs, professionals have gained new tools to improve the efficiency of buildings and industry.

Energy engineering is a growing profession. The AEE has played a key role in the development of the energy engineering profession and has helped professionals reach their full potential. Through the Foundation of AEE, $480,000 in scholarships have been awarded to help students in the field of energy engineering. The future of energy engineering is exceedingly bright as energy engineers seek out solutions to reduce greenhouse gases.

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