Things are looking up for the solar energy industry, which means less dependence on fossil fuels, a greener environment, and more jobs! Although many of these jobs require specific technical skills, harnessing the opportunity in this booming industry is not as intimidating as it may seem. Just follow this easy-to-use guide and you’ll be well on your way to securing rewarding, long-term employment in one of the nation’s fastest growing sectors.
SOLAR ENERGY TODAY
2013 was a prosperous year for the solar industry in the U.S, with 4,751 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) installations. This represents a 41% increase compared to 2012. Solar power now accounts for 29% of all new electricity generation capacity, a 19% increase in one year. Another sign of good health, the industry added over 18,000 new jobs in 2013 and over 142,000 Americans now work in the solar industry.
The industry’s customer base is increasing due to falling costs. The national average PV installed system price declined by 15% in Q4 2013 and the average price of a solar panel has declined by 60% since the beginning of 2011. These factors should be enough to encourage anyone looking for a job in this industry, we have a growing industry, a price drop for customers and incentives created to stimulate the demand. Such opportunities can only help the solar industry to grow even more and reach a certain maturity. Solar energy technologies have been developed to capture the sun’s energy directly to heat our homes and supply electricity. Although this is not a new development, the technology recently came to a point of distributing energy at cost and scale similar to other sources. Solar power or at least its origin, is free, abundant and infinitely renewable but the total cost of manufacturing and installing solar energy systems is usually compared and criticized as being more expensive than the price of utility rates for electricity. This trend is moving though and following price drops, solar power is now reaching what we call “grid-parity” or generating electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid. Solar energy can be captured through various techniques and methods, such as solar photovoltaics (PVs), solar thermal collectors, and solar architecture.
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Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to joining the workforce that is championing this increasingly important renewable energy.
Now we also have an industry that requires a specific set of skills and this is where this guide comes in handy for people indeed interested to enter the solar industry but are unfamiliar with how exactly this industry works.
CHAPTER 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH
It’s an exciting time to break into the solar industry, but without the proper preparation, you might miss out on some key opportunities. Certain job fields are more abundant in specific areas, and some individuals qualify for subsidized training, so be sure to examine the offerings that are out there before deciding on a path. The solar industry employs more than just installers. Opportunities also abound in project development, sales and distribution, manufacturing, and other job functions. Consider your background and your strengths to decide which area of the field is right for you.
Some states are more “solar friendly” than others. Solar Power Rocks put together a state solar policy ranking using data on solar incentives (payback time on solar incentives, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, rebates, etc.), utility prices, interconnection policies and state metering policies.
Examine the ranking and see if your state is a solar hotspot. If not, don’t take this to mean that there is no opportunity there. It just means that your state might not have as many households motivated by state incentives to go solar. But if it’s anything like the rest of the country, it will catch on soon.
Some candidates, such as veterans of the armed forces and unemployed individuals, are eligible for federally or state-funded worker training programs. In fact, military veterans already make up almost 10% of the solar industry’s labor force. Learn more about How the Military is Fueling the Solar Industry.
As there is a range of job functions supporting the solar energy industry, so is there a variety of training options. Be sure to thoroughly review the different course offerings to get the right training and credentials to match what you’d like to do.
The information and views expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications. This blog was posted directly by the author and was not reviewed for accuracy, spelling or grammar.