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Working in energy isn't what you think. The women and men who work in the industry aren't like Homer Simpson'surrounded by 500 buttons, not doing much work, in seemingly dead-end jobs.

Energy is a vast field with a plethora of careers in all areas. From working in plants to dealing with clients and customers, from engineers to tradespeople, there is a position for every type of individual.

The energy field encompasses a variety of roles, says Richard McGuire, human resources specialist with Northwest Territories Power Corporation. These roles include: engineering, design, and asset management; project management; health, safety, and the environment; human resources; finance and accounting; diesel mechanics; electricians; plant operators; and power linespersons and other tradespeople.

We pretty much have positions for any type of background, says Yvonne Dion, recruitment specialist with SaskPower, noting that there are many professional positions, including IT roles, finance, and communications.

That said, energy is changing, therefore so are its careers. As priorities shift and energy demands increase, the industry is expanding in a number of directions.

In the Northwest Territories, ecology and sustainability are now more important. We have been putting a lot of focus on renewable energy'wind and solar'and understanding and minimizing the environmental impact of our business, says McGuire.

We also have a specific group that conducts research into new ventures and alternative energy sources, like solar and wind, he adds. This includes a whole new group of careers in sustainable efforts, such as environmental analysts, policy coordinators, and manager of energy services.

There is a real opportunity to help the environment, as well as help people by ensuring that those who need access to energy are provided with access.

In Saskatchewan, SaskPower is embracing their ambition. We are commissioning the world's first commercial-scale coal-fired power station, says Dion. Unit Three at our Boundary Dam Power Station located near Estevan, SK is being rebuilt with a state-of-the-art turbine and a fully integrated carbon capture system capable of cutting CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent'approximately one million tonnes a year. This may result in new opportunities for individuals with a chemical, process, or petrochemical background.

And these opportunities are coming up everywhere, for those willing to relocate for the betterment of their careers.

With the harsh weather conditions and the requirement to provide energy to communities over a large geographical space, working in energy in the NWT presents some unique challenges and opportunities someone wouldn't necessarily see elsewhere, says McGuire. We also partner very closely with our communities to understand their concerns and ensure we keep power rates as low as possible.

No matter your field, it's worth checking out energy careers across the country. As this industry evolves, it will only be more exciting and rewarding to jump on board.

Photo: Hramovnick/Thinkstock