Solar Energy Technician
Recent reports indicate that the renewable energy industry is predicted to increase by 50% between 2019 and 2024, and the sun will account for 60% of that predicted growth. Solar energy is rapidly growing, which means more jobs and opportunities. One specific field of interest that has taken-off is a solar energy technician.
In this guide, we will discuss what a solar tech does, how you can become one, and everything else you may need about this career choice.
What Is A Solar Energy Technician?
A Solar energy technician would be responsible for assembling, installing, and maintaining solar systems on rooftops and other structures. Individuals who are mechanically minded and enjoy working outdoors will do well in this job.
It will be the tech who is responsible for configuring the panels, which will include the orientation of the panels and the structural integrity of the building. In addition, code regulations will have to be strictly followed. As part of the job, a solar tech will need to be able to read blueprints, schematics, and specifications. They will also need to confer with building inspectors from time to time.
Beginner techs may start by taking measurements, sorting panels, and putting them in place. Installation of panels may include setting up batteries, controls, solar panel mounts, and support structures so that panels can function correctly.
Nearly one-quarter of a million Americans spend 50 percent or more of their time on solar-related work, according to The Solar Foundation. A solar technician is just one of the many job opportunities available in the solar industry.
Solar Technician Requirements
It will highly depend on the company that you work for as to what type of requirements they have for their solar technicians. Many companies will offer on-the-job training, as safety procedures are a huge priority. While professional training is not always a necessity, it will land you better job opportunities. There are many classes and training programs, online classes, and trade schools that focus on trade experience.
Also, having additional skills such as electrician, roofing, or carpentry will help improve your qualifications as a solar energy technician. According to a report put out by salary data website PayScale, companies do not expect solar installer applicants to have specific certifications or job experience. However, it can help improve your opportunities and compensation.
Solar Energy Technician Certifications
While it is not necessary, there are several different certifications that you can gain to help improve your skills and opportunities.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners
Having your certification will help demonstrate your professionalism and knowledge of the solar industry. To qualify, you will have to complete a minimum of 58 hours of advanced PV training at an accredited school or organization, as well as 10- hours construction safety course through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). Upon completion, you will need to pass an exam. You will also need to have documentation of leading 3 to 5 PV installation projects, which will also depend on prior experience.
Electronics Technicians Association (ETA)
The ETA offers certification across all sectors of electronics, including basic electronics to a biomedical science and renewable energy. Many professionals who have gained this certification now work for large corporations such as Motorola, Google, ESPN, and the United States Armed Forces. A solar tech will want to concentrate on the Photovoltaic Installer – Level 1 (PVl1) certification which can only be obtained through hands-on training from an ETA-approved school.
Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP)
CSRP is offered by the Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) Inc. This certification will require proof of 40 hours of education or training, which is based on basic competencies. In addition, you will need to have 3 years of roofing or solar installation experience, and completed 5 solar installations. There is a final exam that will need to be passed.
How Much Do Solar Technicians Make?
It all depends on experience, education, location, and skills. When analyzing the pay scale there were four categories to explore: solar energy system installer, solar installer, solar panel installer, and solar technician. The range of salaries was between $12 to $27 per hour. Those who had leadership skills and experience were on the higher end of the pay scale.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2019 reported that 11,080 solar installers in the USA earned an average annual salary of $45,850. For those who have less than 5-years of experience, an average salary ranges from $20,000 to $51,000. According to the same data, entry-level workers earn three percent less than those that had solar energy power skills, and two percent less than employees that had roofing material installation skills.
The Future of Solar Techs
BLS predicts that solar energy installers will grow 60% between 2018 and 2028, which is more than the average 5% growth that is predicted for all occupations in the USA. This places solar energy technicians at the top of the occupation list across the country. Expansion in this occupation will only continue with the demand for solar panel installation.
Federal, state, and local government incentives have made installation more affordable than ever. With the ever-improving technology, solar panels installation costs and manufacturing costs will continue to decrease. Plus, power companies offer net metering which will offset the cost of solar installation. As more businesses and individuals invest in solar, there will be more demand for solar technicians.
In a comprehensive report released by the BLS, it shows the growth of solar power in the USA and power-related careers. This list includes scientific research, solar power engineering, manufacturing of solar energy, and solar power plant development, construction, and operations. The future for solar techs is bright and the time to enter the industry is now!