Solar Installer, or Photovoltaic (PV) Installer, is one of the most exciting and fastest growing careers in the skilled trade industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2017, employment of PV installers is projected to grow a whopping 105% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations. It’s the fastest-growing job in eight different states across the US, including California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
Solar is a renewable energy source, and one that is gaining a lot of popularity as the world shifts to using more green energy. Solar Panel prices have dropped significantly in the last few years, making solar panel installation much more accessible, increasing the demand for PV installers.
If you are interested in hands-on work and starting a career with plenty of room for growth, working as a PV installer may be for you.
Here are 4 actionable tips for starting a career in the solar industry.
1. Network within the Industry
The best way to find learning and job opportunities in any career is to connect with others who are already in the industry. Chances are, they probably have valuable insights that you can’t find in a book, trade magazine, or classroom setting. There are numerous Solar Power trade shows, conferences, and events across the country such as the Solar Power Events Series. Some events may help you connect with smaller solar communities near you.
2. Find Training Opportunities
Many trade schools and community colleges are now offering solar programs where students can learn the technical side of solar. Not all of these programs are accredited, but some may count towards a certificate. Certification is not currently required to become a solar technician on a federal or state level, but some employers may require it.
On-the-job training is also a popular route for those pursuing a career in solar. Field training programs can last anywhere from a month to a year. Some solar component manufacturers also offer training for their own equipment.
With today’s fast-growing education technology trends like online learning, you can now take steps to become well-versed on PV Installer theory from your very own home.
Do your research before beginning any training program to make sure that you will have the tools and credentials you will need to take the next step in your solar career.
3. Gain Practical Experience
Once you have completed your training and possible certification, the next step is to gain more hands-on experience. In any field, it can be tough to get that first job because many employers tend to look for those who already have practical experience. Nowadays, however, you don't necessarily need to climb rooftops to get that initial experience. With today's innovative, online learning platforms, you can now gain hands-on solar installation experience with 3D simulations and virtual reality training. With 3D sim training, you can learn complex concepts like how to complete Array Assembly Installations. Today's simulation technology is so good that many simulation training programs translate accurately to the real-world. These new innovations in technology can definitely be leveraged as industry experience when applying for jobs with potential employers.
Due to high demand of PV Installers, there are also plenty of opportunities for those without experience (especially in solar-friendly states) with volunteer opportunities. In addition to online training, you can gain professional experience by volunteering with nonprofits such as SunWork and GRID Alternatives.
4. Stay Up to Date
In an industry like Solar Power, things are continually changing. Take the time to stay current on solar energy news, regulations, and code changes. Not only do employers value those who show initiative, but if you ever manage projects or run your own company, you will be prepared for the constant changes facing the solar industry. A few great places to start are Greentech Media and Solar Builder Magazine.
If you're considering a career as a solar installer, now is the time to get started. As the solar industry continues to grow and technology advances, you will already be well on your way to becoming an experienced technician.
For more information about job outlook and salary expectations for PV Installers, download our free eBook.