Energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions keeping growing, and customers and policy makers alike are becoming interested in what has been floated as the solution: solar power.
Solar power harnesses the energy of the sun to provide the earth with electricity. It is a green power source, meaning it generates power without damaging the environment.
Every hour, enough energy from the sun reaches the earth to power the globe for an entire year. As solar technology has improved and become more popular, the price of the technology has dropped over the past years.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that nearly 40% of total electricity generation in the U.S. could be solar-powered. The solar industry boom has consequently increased the demand for solar panel installers.
Solar Panel Installer Job Duties
A solar panel technician, or solar panel installer, is responsible for installing solar photovoltaic panels on roofs and other structures. This requires extensive understanding of:
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- Photovoltaic panels
- How solar technology works
- How to help customers maximize their use of the panels
- How to protect the panels during and after installation
Another solar panel tech duty is connecting the panels to the power grid and planning the system based on the needs of the customers and the layout of the site.
A solar panel installer often works up on roofs, where most buildings receive their maximum amount of sunlight.
They also typically work in teams with other installers, and sometimes with electricians to ensure that the panels have been correctly connected to the power grid. Solar panel technicians help perform maintenance and test the performance of the solar system as well.
The top employers for solar technicians are plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractors, as well as electrical and other wiring installation contractors.
Solar Panel Installer Education Requirements
A solar photovoltaic installer job is within the reach of people who undergo the kind of intensive training typically afford at trade schools and technical schools.
Solar panel installation training covers a host of different concepts:
- Photovoltaic systems
- Mechanical and electrical design
- Troubleshooting wiring and electrical issues
If technicians train with a particular company, the training may focus on a specific product, including the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and an overview of the system.
Although it is not always required, technicians can obtain a certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. With this credential, you can show potential employers and customers that you have voluntarily met industry standards and qualifications through the organization’s testing process.
Those who enter the industry with background knowledge and experience in electricity, carpentry and related occupations tend to be especially sought after by employers.
Solar Panel Technician and Installer Career Outlook
The job outlook for solar technicians is exceptionally good: The BLS estimate that employment will grow 105 percent from 2016 to 2026.
Why is that? Here are a few reasons:
- The declining prices of PV panels and shingles lead consumers to invest in PV systems and hire workers to install them.
- The development of solar leasing will likely create additional demand, as it saves homeowners the upfront cost of installation.
- States and localities that offer incentives for consumers will likely see a greater demand for workers.
The BLS also notes that those who completed training at a trade or technical school have the best employment opportunities.
As customers and corporations across the country find themselves increasingly concerned with the future of electricity production, solar technology has become a viable alternative. And with the demand for this technology on the rise, becoming a solar panel technician and installer is a great career choice with a lot of options.