EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN SOLAR
The most current job figures from the 10th annual National Solar Jobs census indicated that the American solar industry employed nearly 250,000 workers in 2019 who spent more than 50% of their time on solar-related work. The growth in job opportunities is dramatic, considering that number was around 93,000 back in 2010. This increase is not surprising given the penetration solar has achieved in the hearts and minds of the public and within the energy industry.
Some additional insights from the census:
- Over 94,000 additional workers are spending a portion of their time on solar-related work, bringing the total to over 344,000 American workers involved in the solar industry in some capacity.
- Roughly 162,000 US solar workers work at solar installation and project development companies. Others are employed in production, operation and maintenance activities, sales and related businesses.
- The solar workforce is quite diverse, with women making up 26% of the number and people of color representing 34%.
CAREER PLANNING TOOLS
Several resources are available to help those interested in starting or transitioning their career into the solar industry in the United States.
- Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy|Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) – This site offers a portal to access solar energy careers.
- The Solar Career Map provides users with a tool to determine the types of solar jobs available in various aspects of the solar industry, how advancement within a solar career could occur, and offers a section dedicated to veterans with applicable skills.
- Certification courses being developed for solar personnel involved in the design, installation and maintenance of photovoltaic systems.
- The Solar Training Network focuses on solar workforce development and promoting solutions to strengthen and diversify solar career pathways.
There is more, and a visit to SETO's site will answer many questions prospective solar workers will have.
- Glassdoor|Economic Research "The Future of Solar Energy Jobs: Bright or Mostly Overcast?" – This report, published Sep. 2018, provides insightful information on the solar energy job market that will be useful for anyone considering a solar industry career. The types of jobs, what they pay, and the major employers are but three topics covered.
SOLAR TRAINING AND SCHOOLS
The solar industry is undergoing tremendous change and growth in North America and globally. Advances in solar technology are driving down the costs to implement solar energy at home and supplement and replace fossil-fired generation across entire electrical networks.
The solar industry offers a wide range of satisfying, well-paid careers and the current demand for energetic, knowledgeable solar designers, manufacturers and installers is strong.
Numerous training programs and schools offer the education required to tap into this wave of solar career opportunities. Below are listed several resource sites to access solar education and training offerings across the U.S. and Canada.
- HVAC Classes provides information about the what and why of getting involved in the solar energy industry as a career choice and highlights various colleges and associations offering courses and certifications in solar.
- CleanEnergy Authority.com () offers a listing of solar schools and training programs on a state-by-state basis across the U.S.
- Solar Energy International delivers solar education programs, training and certification curricula in North America, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
- ImagineSolar presents several online and hands-on solar training courses and can customize training sessions and workshops to suit the customer.
Solar Training Academy is a Canadian company offering solar training workshops in modeling, designing and installing PV systems.
- British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association lists various programs and institutions offering solar and related renewable energy training in Canada, the U.S., and internationally.
FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR SOLAR TRAINING
The list of organizations and programs that offer financial assistance to those looking to start or transition their careers into the solar energy industry continues to grow. The following list is a starting point for students and professionals alike.
- Solar Energy International lists several scholarships to cover tuition costs on a needs basis to qualified individuals.
- The Solar Ready Vets Fellowship is a program that prepares highly qualified service members for work in the solar industry.
- Affordable Solar recognizes the need for solar employees to acquire ongoing education and certification by offering annual scholarships to New Mexico residents.
- Midwest Renewable Energy Association distributes scholarships to assist students pursuing degrees or relevant credentials in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainability or clean technology.
- Renewable Energy Scholarship Foundation awards scholarships to students committed to engaging in the field of renewable energy.