The demand for solar energy is in an upward spiral, with 50% growth over the next five years. As a result, many individuals beginning their careers in solar energy may have questions about becoming a Solar Energy Technician.
What Is A Solar Energy Technician?
You may be wondering – what does a solar energy technician do? The job of a Solar Energy Technician is also known as a Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Installer. Solar Energy Technicians help install and maintain solar panels that convert sunlight into energy. These can be residential rooftop solar systems or larger conglomerations known as solar fields. In essence, solar techs are the ground workers who make sure solar systems remain functional and energy-efficient.
Most solar panel installations work outdoors. However, solar PV installers sometimes work inside when doing the electrical part of the installation. Installers also must travel to job sites and be comfortable with heights.
|Solar Energy Technician Overview|
|Education:||high school diploma, technical certificate, or associate degree|
|Skills:||physically fit, comfortable with heights, detail-oriented, good communicator|
|Salary:||$46,470 per year reported 2020 median pay*|
|Outlook:||51% job growth from 2019 to 2029*|
|Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics|
How Does Someone Become A Solar Energy Technician?
Solar Energy Technicians or Solar Photovoltaic Installers typically need a high school diploma or GED to get hired. However, becoming a solar energy technician still varies significantly from person to person and is different in each state.
One way to gain entry into the solar energy field is to take classes. You can attend in-person or online Solar Energy Technician Certification courses at a community college or technical school. However, on-the-job training is the essential component of becoming a Solar Energy Technician. So, getting a job with a solar company is often one of the first steps. Some companies offer apprenticeships that last about a year. Most solar companies usually want their technicians to obtain the current solar energy certifications. In addition, they can offer guidance on how to advance your career.
It is worth mentioning that many schools are partnering with solar companies to standardize solar energy training and certifications. For example, the IREC has organized these Regional Workforce Development Partnerships:
- Virginia: Tidewater Community College & Strata Solar
- Texas: Houston Community College & kiloWatt Solar
- California: Miracosta Community College & Sunrun
- North Carolina: Central Piedmont Community College & Pure Power
- New York: Hudson Valley Community College & US Light Energy
How Long Does It Take To Become A Solar Energy Technician?
The length of time it takes to become a solar technician varies mainly based on your chosen path. Furthermore, the company you choose to work with also plays an important role in determining career advancement. Many solar PV installers become project managers and project supervisors after gaining experience in the trade. Solar PV installers may also transition to sales roles within the industry.
What Is The Job Outlook For Solar Energy Technicians?
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of installing solar panels has dropped by 70% since 2010. The decrease in cost has created a higher demand for solar energy. As a result, the demand for solar energy technicians who know how to install solar panels has gone through the roof.
Employment of Solar Energy Technicians is projected to grow 51% from 2019 to 2029. The job growth for solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is much faster than the average for all occupations. With the continued expansion of solar energy systems, there are many great job opportunities. In addition, for those who complete solar energy training courses and certificate programs, the job prospects are excellent!
What Jobs Can I Get As A Solar Energy Technician?
There are many jobs you can get as a solar PV Technician. Here are some Solar Energy Technician jobs recently posted on hiring websites. The salary is a range and will vary by geographic location and experience.
|Solar Installation Technician||Assist in the physical installation of residential solar roof panels and ground-mounted arrays. Entry Level.||$16-18/hr|
|Solar Installer||Work in a four-member crew installing and maintaining solar PV systems on residential projects.||$50,100|
|Solar PV Electrician||Connects solar PV systems to the building electrical system||$56,477|
|Solar Energy Installation Manager||Coordinates and manages the installation of solar photovoltaic or solar thermal systems in residential or commercial settings.||$80,100|
What Is The Salary Of A Solar Energy Technician?
While salaries for every job are varied, a solar energy technician’s pay is above the national average wage. According to the Federal Bureau of Labor, the median solar energy technician salary for 2020 was $46,470. The range was from $32,590-$64,600 per year. Comparing this to the national average wage of $32,000 per year, a starting solar energy technician salary is comparable to most available professional jobs. In addition, you only need a high school diploma for entry.
Is Being A Solar Energy Technician A Good Career Path?
There are pros and cons to consider before jumping into any new career. A promising career is subjective to those who end up working it. However, a career as a solar energy technician can be very rewarding! With only a high school diploma, you can earn a starting salary comparable to other professional jobs that require a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, an enormous upside to working as a solar energy technician is job security. Due to the field’s projected growth, solar jobs should be secure for the foreseeable future. Solar installers make good money, and solar technicians are in demand! So, yes, being a solar energy technician is a good career choice that pays well.
Solar Energy Technician Resources:
- American Solar Workforce
- Electronics Technicians Association, International
- Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc.
- North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
- US Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program
- IBEW–NECA Electrical Training Alliance
- The Solar Foundation
Your Career As A Solar Energy Technician
Due to the solar industry’s projected growth, solar jobs should be secure for the foreseeable future. Solar installers make good money, and solar technicians are in demand! If you are interested in a career in solar, there are many ways to become a solar energy technician. Your future looks sunny!