In today’s uncertain economy, it can be hard to know what fields are the best to get into, and what career paths will keep you happily employed for years to come. The solar energy industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S. today, and solar technicians are in high demand in many parts of the country. Couple this demand with the many different and low cost ways to become a solar technician and you are left with a fantastic career choice. In this article, we will discuss some of the many ways you can break into this industry as an installer.
The first and most well defined way to become a solar technician is to find and enroll in a solar technician program at an accredited institution. There are many trade schools and community colleges across the country that offer certificate programs that specialize in the skills needed to become a solar technician. No matter where you enroll, you can expect to learn about the basics of electricity and the concepts of how solar electricity works. Additionally, you will learn the specifics of how to install, maintain and repair solar panels. this training will often come with hands on training in the classroom or as part of an internship. For more information, check out our page on solar technician schools.
One of the ways that the solar energy industry assures that they maintain a high level of quality and safety in solar panel installations is by offering certifications. These certificates are offered by nationally recognized institutions that are well known in solar energy, and can be earned by demonstrating a proficiency in the skills needed to be a quality technicians.
Sometimes these certifications can be earned as part of an accredited program, but they can also be earned separately as needed. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is the leading organization for these types of certifications. Getting a certificate (such as a Photovoltaic Installation Professional) will show employers that you have the skills that they are looking for.
An alternative route to traditional classroom training is to get on the job training through an apprenticeship. The easiest way to accomplish this would be to get an entry level job at a solar energy company, and learn on the job through experience and training from others who have the skills you want.
This approach can be successful if you already have previous construction experience, especially as an electrician or a roofer. To get into a solar energy company as an apprentice, be sure to apply to entry level positions and include in your cover letter why your previous experience will make you a successful solar technician if they hire you. Many construction skills will translate to this new profession. It is your job to make sure your prospective employer sees the potential in you.
If you land an apprenticeship with a company, it is still a good idea to obtain a certification once you have the skills needed to pass the test. Having this certification will let others know that you do high quality work, and will make switching employers much easier should you ever need to.
Many Other Opportunities
Many people just think of installers when they think of jobs in the solar industry, but becoming a technician is just the beginning. There are many other types of jobs that you can branch into once you have some experience. After all, someone needs to be there for every step of the solar panel life cycle – from sales, installation, and ongoing maintenance. To learn more about these other career paths, check out our page on solar technician job types.
Decide for Yourself
These are just some of the many ways to break into this budding industry. No matter what path you choose to get into solar energy, it is a smart choice as renewable energy continues to grow and become a larger part of our future energy resources.