Solar Job Growth Accelerates for Sixth Year in a Row
Overall Solar Industry Jobs Up Nearly 200% Since 2010
Healthy industry. Lowering costs. Improving technology. What’s that add up to? More jobs in solar energy than ever before, and they continue to grow.
The U.S. Energy and Employment Report (2017) has released the latest job figures in the energy industry. And solar is leading the way in job growth, surpassing 370,000 workers nationwide as of 2016. This trend will continue, as solar employers expect to add 7% more jobs this year.
Since 2015, in just one year, solar jobs grew about 25%, and this is only counting the jobs that spend the majority of their time in the solar industry. It excludes people like temporary contract work or low-hours part-timers, which are also growing in number.
The growth in solar jobs is the strongest indicator that solar energy will continue on its path toward becoming a mainstream fixture on the global landscape, supplanting the fossil fuel industry – while also extending the life of that sector’s finite but essential resources.
Buying solar 40 years ago was fairly risky since the industry was almost brand new. But now, the technology has proven itself, costs are coming down, and solar has a strong and bright future ahead. 40 years ago, the risk was, what if it doesn’t work or costs me tons of money?
Today, the risk is, how much will I miss out on if I don’t switch to solar? The solar job boom is just another sign of the times – it’s solar energy time.
Where are the Biggest Gains in Solar Job Growth?
The solar industry has grown the most in commercial and utility-scale installation work. These are big projects, and they’re the reason solar power generation continues to gain on fossil fuels in the percentage of energy it produces each year.
And with those big projects comes the need for more project developers – people with experience managing large projects.
However, even with all these big projects, over half of solar workers still work on residential installations. This is because each residential job requires a team of people to complete the job, whereas the number of people required to complete the big projects isn’t as high compared to the amount of energy those projects will generate.
Sales and Distribution
With booming growth in residential, commercial, and utility solar projects, as well as agricultural and government installations, sales and distribution jobs are the next fastest solar job growth area.
Every small, mid-size, and large solar installation company, as well as the manufacturers, needs people to sell their products and services. As the solar industry grows, so will the competition. That’s why jobs in this category nearly doubled in just one year from 2015.
But the largest category of solar job growth is in the installation sector. Almost 40% of all solar workers work in construction and installation. These are the people who go out and do the actual work on site. It includes installing the racking and connecting the solar panels, inverters and other components that will provide power to the electrical systems at that location.
These are skilled jobs that require some certification, but getting going is easier than you might think, and certain levels of certification can be achieved in just a few months, assuming you pass the tests.
To become a certified installer, the ultimate goal is to get NABCEP certified. This is the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Having this certification gives any prospective employer full confidence that you have the skills to jump in and immediately do high quality solar installation work. And it helps their company, because they can advertise that their installers are certified. (Like us! We have Keith Freeman on our staff, an NABCEP certified PV installer with over 25 years of experience).
Looking for solar construction or installation work?
Are you or is someone you know looking for construction work? There is growing demand around the country (and world) for solar installers. Getting NABCEP certified is a great first step, and the associate-level certification can be achieved relatively quickly.
Coastal Solar doesn’t provide any training for this, as we are a solar installation company.
But here are a few places you can go to explore some program options. Please be aware that none of these programs are associated with Coastal Solar in any way, and our listing them here does not constitute an endorsement of the quality of their programs or that they are the best choice for you.
Solar Energy International – Lots of program options, with fees and various pathways listed.
NABCEP main site – This site explains the certification process and gives options for how to get to the various levels. It also has resources and handbooks to download, as well as how to apply for the tests.
EcoTech – A Texas-based PV training program that also has other energy-related certification programs.
Everblue – A similar program as Ecotech. Offers a variety of energy-related training programs.
Again, Coastal Solar has no affiliation with and does not endorse any of these programs. This list is merely given as helpful information. You can explore these options, and others, on your own.
But as you can see, the solar job growth is real. The industry as a whole grew with 25% more jobs in one year alone, so it’s reasonable to guess the 7% estimate for 2017 will be low. And if you live in the Southeastern United States, maybe you’ll end up working for us one day!
Why Now is the Time
Job growth is one thing, but there are six trends, five of them pretty scary, that will motivate an even faster acceleration in the switch to solar.
The next few years are the most urgent time in our history to go solar. Find out why solar energy is your only inflation-defying option to escape these five frightening energy trends, which will converge at some point in the near future.
This special report will shock you, surprise you, and change the way you see the future of energy.