Last updated on October 16th, 2019
Have you been searching for solar panel installation jobs? Here is a list that can help you find the job that best suits you.
The 9 Best Solar Panel Installation Jobs
The solar energy industry is rapidly growing as more and more people embrace renewable sources of energy.
People from different professional backgrounds are also reaping the benefits of this boom because this industry has new, exciting, and well-paying opportunities that they can try. Here, we will explore some of the best solar panel installation jobs.
A report that was released on May 2017 in the fifth edition of Renewable Energy and Jobs at IRENA’s 15th Council indicated that there are approximately 10.3 million people globally who are employed in the renewable energy sector. This is a rise for the first time from a 10 million figure.
Countries such as the United States, Brazil, China, Japan, Germany, and India are still leading in terms of employers in the renewable energy industry.
Therefore, the solar PV industry remains to be one of the largest employers of all renewable energy technologies.
In the US, there are about 7,000 solar photovoltaic installers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics sources. More than half are located in the state of California. The state offers homeowners huge incentives, including tax credits to install solar electric power.
The national and state governments continue to increase their incentives even in other states, and therefore, there will be a rise in the number of opportunities.
Like green living and the environment? Download our FREE printable PDF file that highlights the most important questions to ask about solar energy.
It takes 5 seconds to download and get started.
Solar Installation Opportunities and their Requirements
Below are several jobs within the solar installation industry, including an overview of wages, duties and responsibilities.
Photovoltaic Solar Installer
The photovoltaic solar installer is a job that requires one to hold at least one year of experience of installation and must have all the documents for training and installations. Also, if you want to make money from installing solar, then you must pass an exam.
You should also pass sign an ethics code and continue taking education courses for re-certification every three years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar PV installers make an average wage of $19.53 per hour. This equates to an average annual income of $40,620 The work of a solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is to assemble, install, as well as to maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or in other structures.
According to the Payscale.com, an installer with one to four years of experience can make between $14.24 and $19.50 per hour. On the other hand, an installer with five to nine years’ experience can earn an average of $17 to $20.96 per hour.
Therefore, if you want to make money, installing solar systems can be a great opportunity.
Duties of Solar PV Installers
Solar PV installer jobs typically involve the following:
- Strategizing and planning the PV system configurations based on site conditions and customer needs
- Apply weather sealant to the pieces of equipment being installed
- Measure, shape, and assemble the support structure for solar panels
- Install solar panels, modules, and the support structures according to the building standards and codes
- Activate as well as test the PV systems
- Connect solar panels to the electrical system
- Perform routine PV system repair and maintenance
How to Become a Solar PV Installer
If you want to become a solar PV installer, you must meet the prerequisites, which may include relevant skills and education. Having a certification can be an added advantage.
According to the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), you must meet various requirements for solar PV installer certification. Those requirements include:
- Must be over 18 years of age.
- You must have the prerequisites of related education or experience.
- You must learn Inspector Guidelines for PV Systems, Electrical Safety, Stand-Alone Photovoltaic Systems, Working Safely with Photovoltaic Systems, and Photovoltaic Power Systems and the 2005 National Electrical Code.
- For you to qualify for the exam, you must demonstrate that you can meet at least one of the minimum entry requirements tracks as specified by NABCEP.
- You must pass the NABCEP entry-level written exam. You can register for an exam sitting through your testing center, and/or through an entry-level course.
- To maintain a solar PV installer professional, you must meet continuing education requirements and install a particular number of systems per year.
Solar Roofing Jobs
The solar installation process must pass through the roofing phase. Since the solar panel is efficient when placed in elevated places, it is obvious that the solar installers have to climb up onto the rooftops. The solar panels are installed on the roofs of residential homes, on the side of a building, on poles, outdoor lighting systems, and eco-friendly condominiums, to place the solar panels. Therefore, the installers can’t have a fear of heights and must learn how to do roofing jobs.
The first thing in the roofing phase is to assess the location where the installer will place the panels to see if there is enough room for them. The structure of the location should be strong enough to hold the weight of the panels.
Most of the roofing jobs advertised online pay an average of between $15 and $22 per hour or around $37,760 annually.
Roofers job is to install and repair roofs. They also work to ensure that any damages (cuts and holes) that occur on the roof when installing solar panels are repaired.
Maintenance and Repair Jobs
Although solar panels require minimum maintenance, their long span of functional life requires them to be checked once in a while. The main maintenance they need involves just washing them and wiping any debris or dirt for two to four times a year. Cleaning can easily be done using a garden hose and warm water by the owner as well.
Maintaining solar panels will help maximize their efficiency. Since they have very few moving parts, solar panels require very little up-keep. However, the dirt build-up can affect the ability of the panel sunlight absorption.
Therefore, cleaning the panels regularly and making sure that you are following the basic safety procedures when doing it is vital.
In case of malfunctions and maintenance, it’s prudent to have an expert do the work. Therefore, these jobs are there and are well paying.
The professional solar panels installer is involved in various solar maintenance jobs and solar repair jobs, including:
- Cleaning of the panels
- Replacing the inverters and panels
- Monitoring and checking any system faults and diagnosis
- Checking extensions or alterations of existing systems
- Offering advice on performance issues
Here are some of the other jobs in the solar industry.
See Related: Best Solar Power Banks
Solar Power Scientist
Physicists and chemists are crucial workers when it comes to carrying out research and development in the solar energy industry. They help establish the right materials in the manufacturing of advanced panels to double up their efficiency.
They research and find ways to manufacture panels that are efficient. For example, the solar panels that are made up of materials rich in silicon photovoltaics are more productive. The new solar panels models are more efficient, up to 10% to 15% than the older ones because more research has been done over the years.
If you are a physics or a chemistry degree holder, you can become a perfect solar power scientist.
Solar Energy Software Developer/ Solar Energy Systems Designer
Software development is an integral facet in the solar energy industry. This is because solar energy firms are in constant search for cost-effective and highly marketable panels that have high-class ingenuity and cutting-edge technology.
Innovative solar energy software developers have, for instance, figured out how to program solar panels in their bid to widen the panels’ digital sunlight absorption features. This makes it possible to manufacture panels for places with erratic or unpredictable weather patterns.
With a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science and certification, you can do this job.
However, certain jobs may require a master’s degree.
Solar Engineering Technician
Do you want to become a solar engineering technician? Well, if you pursue a degree in any field of engineering, you can become a solar engineering technician. This position mainly deals with procurement as well as maintenance of machines that are used in solar panels manufacturing.
The solar engineering technicians are also involved in researching, designing as well as developing cost-effective machines for manufacturing solar panels.
That can help lower the production cost of solar panels, and therefore, they will be more readily available to people across the globe.
See Related: Important Health & Environmental Benefits of Solar
Solar Designer Engineer
The job of the solar designer engineer involves designing 10kWp to 150kWp solar panels for commercial and industrial use. Therefore, you need to have excellent skills in AutoCAD drawing and drafting of the PV layouts.
Also, you need to have the know-how of schematic drawing using PV Syst or PVSol in addition to modeling and shading techniques used in up-to-the-minute solar panel design pursuits.
You can do this job if you have a degree in electrical engineering in various UK based solar manufacturing firms.
See Related: How Community Solar Works
General Contractor Jobs
The general solar contractor installs, modifies, maintains, and repairs both the thermal and photovoltaic solar energy systems. The general contractors that hold the C-46 license are in high demand today as more and more homeowners and small businesses decide to go solar.
General contractors must have a license to carry out their job.
Solar Contractor Licensing
In some states, a solar installer must obtain a separate and specialized license of a solar contractor. A solar contractor is a specialty that falls under the general plumbing and electrical licenses.
However, a licensed contractor can install solar systems with no solar specialty licenses. That is to say; a solar contractor can obtain the solar specialty license and install systems with no full plumbing and electrical license. This can help reduce the cost of licensure for contractors who install solar systems only.
General contractors with licenses are eligible for financial incentives. The financial incentives programs often include certain installer requirements, including pre-approval and NABCEP certification, even in the states that don’t have the contractor licensing requirements.
NABCEP is a voluntary or value-added credential. However, it is now either mandatory or more preferred for contractors who are looking to install systems that are eligible for incentive programs in the states.
For example, in the states like Maine, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, a contractor must have a NABCEP certification to be eligible for the state rebate funds.
In Utah, the contractor must have the NABCEP certification to qualify for state solar contractor license.
A solar contractor also needs to have a C-46 license. The C-46 license is the classification mostly required for all persons who want to bid for solar panel installation repair jobs in the state of California, where the cost of materials and labor exceeds $500.
Duties Associated with the C-46 License
Solar contractors who we also refer to as solar installers/specialists engage in different duties as follows:
- Installation and fabrication of solar panels
- Configuration and testing of PV systems
- Assessing thermal systems
- repairing and trouble-shooting the already existing solar panel systems
- Installing the ground mount collectors
- Recognizing and correcting unsafe worksite practices
- Estimating, bidding, accounting, and book-keeping
- repairing and maintaining an energy storage system
- Teaching and educating clients on solar energy
- Installing pool heating and hot water systems
- Interpreting plans and blueprints
Solar Contractors that hold the C46 license can use a wide range of equipment and technology that include ground mounts, roof saws, racking systems.
Cranes, ladders, and central inverters in their jobs. If you want to obtain the C-46 license, then you must get tested on all aspects of installation as well as repair of solar energy systems.
See Related: Solar Panel Lifespan Guide
9. Solar Subcontractors
While a majority of the solar installation contractors work mostly in the commercial and residential setting, they are often subcontracted by municipalities and counties. Solar subcontractors install solar energy systems on industrial structures and government buildings.
In most instances, the C-46 licensed solar contractors work directly with homeowners where they mostly install and repair solar panels. In a few cases, they act as an RMO for an established solar installation company.
However, they may also function as a General Engineering Contractor or a sub to a General Contractor to do solar panels design and fabrication work on different projects over a long period continually.
The general contractors, on the other hand, oversee that the solar subcontractors are executing their duties according to the code and the specific requests of a client.
Contractors State License Board
The (CSLB) Contractors State License Board is the governing body in the state of California for all contractors. Its mandate is to protect the consumer public and to ensure that anyone who charges above the $500 for construction services is qualified and registered with the state of California.
The CSLB issues the C-46 license.
Also, the CSLB administers the applications, exams as well as maintains a database of all inactive and active contractor license numbers which is accessible to the public.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Certification
If there is a structure that was built before 1978 that needs alterations, the solar contractors must be aware of how to contain any lead paint present. They must know the exact processes and procedures that are necessary according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Lead paint is a hazardous product to both humans and the environment. Also, lead can travel miles through the air, mix with soil, and even enter the air ducts.
These traces can potentially cause fatal damage to those who come into contact.
Conclusion on the Best Solar Panel Installation Jobs
The solar energy industry is growing with each passing day, and thus, there is a boom in solar panel installation jobs.
Therefore, solar installers that want to build a successful business should position themselves as authorities and experts within their industry.
Do you have any insights on solar panel installation jobs? Kindly share it in our comments section.
- 8 Best Solar Companies in Maryland
- A Complete Guide to Solar Electric Fences: Build an Off-Grid Fence
- Solar Power Production: How Much Energy Does a Solar Panel Produce?
Green Coast is a renewable energy community that solely focus on helping people better understand renewable energy technologies and the environment.