Tips on Becoming a Solar Installer
Solar energy has become a quickly growing field in both residential and commercial construction. As more buildings seek to achieve LEED certification and more homeowners seek ways to cut their energy bills, the number of solar installer jobs will continue to increase.
The limited number of certified installers coupled with the rising demand makes starting a solar installation business an excellent choice for those who are seeking a career path that is likely to see widespread expansion.
Solar installer certification can be achieved in many ways. For example, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is a board of volunteers from fields such as education, solar energy, trades, and legislators to develop a nationwide certification program.
After completing the coursework, which is offered by various suppliers rather than NABCEP, novices take the PV Entry Level Exam. This is the first step to becoming a NABCEP Certified PV Installer, which brings listing in their solar installer directory.
Sources for solar installation training programs can be found at the website for the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. The IREC is the licensee in North America for the ISPQ, or Institute for Sustainable Power Quality. This organization develops standards and guidelines for evaluating training programs and certifications.
Solar installer training can be achieved in a number of ways. There are online courses, but these normally do not offer any type of hands-on experience. Technical or trade schools are typically more involved in actual installation.
Community colleges usually have a more balanced approach. While having a college degree never hurts, the important thing in achieving solar installation certification is to know the methods and principles involved.
Home Power Magazine produced an article for their April/May 2010 issue called “Charting your Solar Course” that is an excellent resource for those seeking to enter the solar PV market. It is available online at
Along with information on choosing a career in solar energy, it contains a list by state of community colleges, trade schools, and universities offering courses in solar panel installation.
Searching online for entry level solar installer jobs can also give you a great deal of information on the requirements and experience that companies in your area are seeking. Each state or local board will have varying qualifications regarding licensing, training, and permits.
In some areas, you may be able to simple receive on the job training from a licensed solar panel installer until you have gain enough proficiency to test for your own license. By researching what you will need to be hired as an apprentice or trainee, you will be better able to plan your course of study.