installing solar panels

Thinking of a Career as a Solar Installer? 4 Things to Consider When Making the Career Change

All it takes is for the power in your neighborhood to go out for more than 3 minutes and you’ll understand the importance of power to our country and communities. When you think about it in that way, a career in a power-related industry sounds like something that will be valuable, right?

Right you are, especially in the solar energy field. If you’re looking for a stable, rewarding and well-paying job, a solar energy career is a great opportunity. There are countless specialties in the solar industry, and one of the fastest growing paths is as a solar installer.

Here are four tips for launching your solar career as a solar installer:

1) Barriers to Entry as a Solar Installer Are Lower Than You Think

Think that only people with highly technical backgrounds are able to work in the solar panel installation field? Sure, that’s a common misperception, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s the good news: no official rules or standards have been set yet for the education, training or certification of installers. So how you get your training is up to you … Day and night courses that are offered by local trade schools and community colleges can fit into your current work schedule and give you the basis you need for an entry-level job in this field. Or talk to a few local installation and construction companies and tell them about your interest. Perhaps there are apprenticeship programs or training opportunities available? The on-the-job experience you receive in this type of position will be incredibly valuable, so it is worth the time and effort to ask around.

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Basically, if you’re resourceful, creative and patient enough, you should be able to find the training you need to get started.

2) Think Like An Entrepreneur…or An Employee

Did you know that many solar installers are self-employed as general contractors? So if you’re good at networking and business or if the idea of being your own boss is something that interests you, this career gives you that opportunity.

However, if you’d like to work for someone else, there’s good news: panel manufacturers, general contractors, engineers, and even commercial electricians often employ solar installers. So either way, as an employee or solo artist, this career has a place for you.

3) Consider Colleagues and Coworkers

As you’re learning your new trade, you will likely work alongside roofers, electricians, and plumbers. In fact, many installers enter the field with previous experience in one of these fields. So if you’re accustomed to working on construction sites, you already know you’re your coworkers are doing and you’re good to go. But, if you’re new to this type of work environment and aren’t familiar with what everyone else is doing, don’t worry … it won’t take long for you to figure out the ropes. Soon enough, you will look and sound like an expert.

4) Go Green

According to industry sources as cited in a 2011 report issued by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (PDF), solar installers usually have starting salaries between $30,000 and $40,000 per year. As with any occupation, your paycheck will vary depending upon experience, location and other factors. If you have previous training (such as being an electrician, having engineering or construction experience) or if you are already licensed as a general contractor, you’re income potential can be higher.

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Solar installers are highly skilled professionals who play a key role in our nation’s efforts to move toward greater use of renewable energy. A career as a solar installer is a rewarding opportunity in more ways than one.

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