What to Know About Being a Solar Energy Technician
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- Solar energy technician jobs are projected to increase 52% by 2030.
- Employers will create about 2,300 new solar energy positions every year.
- Solar is a diverse and growing industry, with 10.3% of the workforce unionized.
By becoming solar energy technicians, workers can enter a growing industry without a college degree. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), over 231,000 people worked in solar energy in 2020.
As sunlight becomes an increasingly popular energy to harness, jobs in solar energy will only increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects positions for solar photovoltaic installers or certified solar energy technicians to increase 52% between 2020 and 2030. SEIA reports the solar industry is on track to reach 400,000 workers by 2030 despite a decrease in employment following the pandemic.
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Solar energy technicians are some of the most in-demand positions that do not require a bachelor's degree. The journey to becoming a solar energy technician only requires a high school diploma or GED certificate and on-the-job training. What does a solar energy technician do? This page breaks down solar energy technicians' duties, occupational outlook, and salaries.
What Does a Solar Energy Technician Do?
Businesses and residents need solar energy technicians to install, repair, and maintain solar panels. These professionals often work long days and travel to various sites to complete their work by sundown.
Solar energy technicians must have knowledge of electrical systems since they wire and install panels to power grids. The job also requires a firm understanding of the National Electrical Code and local and federal regulations for solar energy. Communication skills also come in handy as solar energy technicians manage customer service tickets and work orders.
Specific duties for solar energy technicians vary depending on the companies they work for and whether they handle residential or commercial jobs. Solar energy technicians often must:
- Read blueprints and wiring and control diagrams to plan for construction
- Understand local and federal solar energy regulations
- Have an electrical aptitude and ability to map systems
- Test and troubleshoot electrical systems
- Install commercial and residential solar paneling
- Perform routine solar systems maintenance
What Is a Solar Energy Technician's Career Outlook?
Fossil fuels account for 80% of the world's energy use. To decrease American dependence on fossil fuels, the Biden administration plans to create 10 million green jobs in a push to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035. As a result, the BLS projects jobs for solar photovoltaic installers will increase 52% between 2020 and 2030, with employers creating 2,300 positions every year. Businesses now employ some 11,800 solar photovoltaic installers. That number is projected to increase to 17,900 by 2030.
The increase in solar energy use will create a greater demand for installers who must maintain and fix systems at residences and businesses.
What Is a Solar Energy Technician's Salary Potential?
According to the BLS, solar energy technicians made a median annual salary of $46,470 in May 2020. Employers do not always require applicants to possess a license to become solar energy technicians, but they often seek candidates with on-the-job training. However, states may require a license through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.
Much like other professions, with experience, solar energy technicians can increase their wages. The bottom 10% of solar energy technicians earned less than $32,590 in 2020, while the top 10% made more than $64,600.
Frequently Asked Questions About a Solar Energy Technician's Career
Is solar energy technician a good career?
If you do not have a college education, becoming a solar energy technician can offer you a chance to enter a growing, well-paying industry. The BLS reports that job growth for solar energy technicians over the next decade will outpace most other occupations. The demand for solar energy technician occupations will only increase further as costs for panels and shingles drop.
Do I need to be an electrician to install solar panels?
No. Solar energy technicians do not need to be electricians, but they do need a basic understanding of electrical systems since they must install and maintain solar systems. The job requires connecting the solar panels to the electrical grid, which is often done under the guidance of a senior solar energy technician.
How long does it take to become a solar energy technician?
Within as little as one month, you can become a solar energy technician. Training involves learning safety proctors and installation techniques on the job. Students can earn certificates through community colleges and vocational schools.
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