These days, everyone is thinking about the economy and the job market. Some industries, like manufacturing, have almost dried up completely because of the use of automation. Other industries are changing so drastically that people who have been working in that industry for years or even decades are left in the dust. That’s why it is smart to consider the future when it comes to career choice.
One of the most obvious things about the future is that we are not going to be able to continue using nonrenewable energy sources, which makes solar energy one of the strong contenders for the future of power generation. People switching to solar energy are going to need people to install those systems for their homes and businesses. As solar panels become cheaper and more efficient, there’s going to be a great deal more demand and it is unlikely that someone trained as a solar panel installer will be unable to find work. Let’s take a look at this job in greater detail.
Solar Installer Licensing Requirements
The first thing that you should know is that you may not simply be able to learn how to install solar panels and start a business or go to work for a solar panel company. That’s because there might be licensing requirements that you have to follow in order to be allowed to work in this industry. Right now, only a few states have licensing requirements for solar installation. Most of these licensing requirements revolve around some sort of training or apprenticeship program that teaches you the right way to install solar panels.
While this industry is not as heavily regulated as the electrical industry, because it is not quite as dangerous as working with massive amounts of life current, you still need proper training. In the states where no regulation exists at the moment, it is likely that as solar energy becomes more commonplace that new legislation will be enacted eventually. Even where solar panel installers are not required to be licensed, it is going to be a lot easier to get hired by a company when you have the education for it already listed on your resume.
Solar Panel Installer Education & Training
That brings us to the education that you need to become a solar panel installer and what sort of education is currently available. Although the industry is fairly new – or at least in its current viable form – there are plenty of educational programs and places where you get trained for solar installation. Generally, you will find most of these solar classes and programs at community colleges but there are some universities that offer these as well. There are also programs within the private sector. The other option you have is to complete an apprenticeship program offered by a company which trained you on the job. However, these are more difficult to find and get.
One of the most well-known and well-respected educational institutions that offer solar panel training is San Juan College, which is located in Farmington, New Mexico. Since 1999, San Juan has been offering a complete solar energy curriculum including a year-long certificate in photovoltaic and solar thermal systems. They also offer an Associate’s Degree program within this industry.
One of the things that you might need to know when it comes to education and training is about the Solar Energy International organization, or SEI. SEI has been training people on solar panel installation and all kinds of solar education since the early 1990s. They do this through online workshops as well as physical classes where you get hands on training with actual equipment and they are held throughout the United States and even around the world. You can look on SEI’s website and find out what classes are available near you. You can be trained within just a few weeks of beginning your program depending upon how quickly you are able to progress through it. SEI has a number of two week programs that are followed by supervised hands-on training.
You should also know that you will have to take an entry-level exam from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) in order to work in the solar panel industry. However, the training from your workshop, college courses or from the SEI classes will give you the information that you need to pass this test. This test is not mandatory by law, but most employers require that you have taken and passed it in order to hire you.
Solar Installer Salary, Requirements and More
When it comes to how much money you can make as a solar panel installer, it all depends upon whether you go to work for company or start your own solar installation business. However, the median income for solar panel installers is $40,070. Most of the solar panel installers today simply have a high school diploma. However, the 55 percent they currently work in the industry with just a diploma will go down as more regulation is enacted in other states. 16 percent have an Associate’s Degree and 14 percent have a certificate.
Solar Panel Installer Job Security
So, what about job security when it comes to solar panel installation? The fact is, solar installation in its current form is just in its infancy. Very few people have solar energy setups right now. Almost everyone is still connecting the power grid, and even those who do have solar energy using only supplementally. But this is going to change in the future. People are going to start generating their own energy, governments are going to start implementing widespread solar panel installation, and there will be plenty of work for someone trained as a solar panel installation expert in the coming decades.