Become a Solar Professional

Intermediate

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Become a Solar Professional
Solar careers are on the rise. Here’s how you can prepare to join the renewable energy workforce.
Solar Career Map
Access the Solar Career Map at bit.ly/SolarCareerMap.
Hands-on classes
Hands-on classes offered by qualified training programs, such as Solar Energy International, will help you gain confidence as you expand your knowledge base.
Solar Instructor Training Network
Find a list of partnering institutions at the Solar Instructor Training Network (sitnusa.org).
Classroom Training
Adequate training of a renewable energy industry professional usually requires both theoretical training (shown here) and hands-on experience.
Hands-on Training
Adequate training of a renewable energy industry professional usually requires both theoretical training and hands-on experience (shown here).
Licensed electricians training in renewable energy
Even licensed electricians find solar-specific training important to expanding their career into the renewable energy industry.
NABCEP logo
NABCEP offers the most widely recognized certifications in the industry for solar heating and PV installation professionals.
Penn State University offers RE-specific degrees
Penn State University offers RE-specific degrees, including an online masters program.
SEIA logo
SEIA is a membership organization that may provide you with valuable connections to others in the solar industry.
ASES logo
ASES is a membership organization that may provide you with valuable connections to others in the solar industry.
Online job board
Online job boards and industry databases can be great places to research both local and national job openings.
Become a Solar Professional
Solar Career Map
Hands-on classes
Solar Instructor Training Network
Classroom Training
Hands-on Training
Licensed electricians training in renewable energy
NABCEP logo
Penn State University offers RE-specific degrees
SEIA logo
ASES logo
Online job board

Solar’s future is a shining star in an otherwise dark economy. Here’s how to put your career in the sunlight.

In 2012, the solar industry saw a 13.2% increase in employment in the United States—nearly six times higher job growth than in the rest of the U.S. economy. And in 2013, the industry experienced a 20% growth in solar jobs—10 times higher than the national employment rate. This trend is expected to continue as increasing demand for solar will require new professionals involved in the installation, design, sales, and manufacturing of solar heating and photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Industry Inroads

If you’re looking for career in renewable energy, now’s the time to assess your skills and interests, which will help you choose your pathway into the solar industry. An electrical contractor will have a more direct path to becoming a PV installer than an individual without trades experience who is finishing an unrelated college degree. Not having experience or a related degree may mean a longer or more difficult path.

Solar employers tend to favor those with bachelor’s degrees and related work experience. Roughly 40% of the new solar positions in 2012 required a bachelor’s degree, and 50% required related work experience—some required both.

Aspiring solar professionals can readily attain “related work experience.” Applicants with experience in general construction, roofing, electrical, plumbing, or heating have attractive overlapping skill sets. Since the design of solar systems is complementary to many engineering disciplines, traditional design backgrounds provide relevant work experience and training for system and equipment designers. Experience in other industries related to sales, marketing, manufacturing, or accounting can also be assets for particular jobs.

Mapping Your Path

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the U.S. Department of Energy collaborated on a tool for learning about diverse jobs within the solar industry. The Solar Career Map details common job descriptions, the skills and experience required for these positions, and pathways for career advancement within the solar industry.

College-Bound

If you’re entering college, consider earning a degree in a related discipline (engineering, construction management, building trades, business, etc.). You may also choose a program focused on solar technologies.

A number of these schools have been involved with the Department of Energy’s Solar Instructor Training Network (SITN), developed to increase the quality and accessibility of training across the country. Nine regional training providers train instructors and support the development of solar training programs at schools and other training institutions.

NABCEP Entry-Level Program

If you have limited solar experience, you can increase your formal knowledge and receive an industry-recognized PV or solar heating credential through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

The NABCEP Entry Level program is a collaboration between NABCEP, industry professionals, and training organizations. The program is based on “Entry Level Learning Objectives” developed by subject matter experts and used as the basis for training content.

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