Of the 36 occupations on the career map, ten are associated with the component production sector. Many are associated with designing and manufacturing solar components such as PV modules, power conditioning systems, charge controllers, batteries, tracking and array mounting equipment, electric motors, solar thermal collectors, storage tanks, pumps, and other balance-of-system hardware. Occupations for this sector are classified under entry, mid, and advanced levels.

Component Production | ENTRY LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

Component production entry level

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator

Education and Training Level: CNC Operators can learn on the job and/or in post-secondary technical programs, many of which offer short-term diplomas or certificates. Some workers advance through registered apprenticeships; others earn an A.S. or A.A.S. degree to move to higher-level machining, set-up, or programming jobs.
Preferred: Post-secondary credential

Solar Content Integration: Well-accepted standards for CNC Operators are in place, as are embedded CNC certificate programs in Engineering Technology A.S. and A.A.S. degree programs. A single course in photovoltaic module and/or solar thermal collector fabrication could easily be integrated into one of these certificate programs, which usually consist of approximately 12 semester credit hours of coursework.

Advanced Manufacturing Technician

Education and Training Level: Routes for Advanced Manufacturing Technicians include post-secondary technical diplomas or certificates of varying length and focus that cover everything from lean manufacturing to electronics maintenance. An A.A.S. degree can jump start a Manufacturing or Engineering Technician career.
Preferred: A.A.S. degree; certification

Solar Content Integration: Well-accepted standards for Advanced Manufacturing Specialists are in place, as are embedded automation certificate programs in Engineering Technology A.S. and A.A.S. degree programs. A single course in photovoltaic and/or solar thermal technology and applications could easily be integrated into one of these certificate programs, which usually consist of approximately 12 semester credit hours of coursework.

Component Production | MID LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

Component production mid level

Instrumentation and Electronics Technician

Education and Training Level: It is possible to become a technician in this field with some focused post-secondary training and a fair amount of experience, but prospects are best for those with an A.A.S. degree. A B.S. degree opens the path to become a technologist or engineer.
Preferred: A.A.S. degree

Solar Content Integration: Well-defined and accepted standards and curriculum for Electronics Technicians have been developed by the Electronics Technicians Association International (ETAI) and are widely used by education and training institutions throughout the country. ETAI has also developed numerous solar courses for PV installers. Integrating one or more of these courses into degree programs that are already available could be easily accomplished. More specifically, courses in the operation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair of photovoltaic systems as part of a two-year A.A.S. degree program can be added. An embedded certificate program that includes the above—as well as courses in test equipment, instrumentation, measurements, computer networking, and diagnostics—would be an attractive option.

Quality Assurance Specialist

Education and Training Level: This position requires a two-year college degree in Quality Assurance and experience with data, statistics, and technical work. A B.S. degree or higher may be required to pursue management or engineering pathways. Quality Assurance Specialists may start as Inspectors and advance to Engineering Technicians.
Preferred: B.S. degree

Solar Content Integration: Well-accepted standards for Manufacturing Quality Assurance Specialists are in place, as are embedded six sigma lean-manufacturing certificate programs in A.S. and A.A.S. degree programs for Engineering Technology. A single course in photovoltaic cell, module and/or solar thermal collector fabrication could easily be integrated into one of these certificate programs, which usually consist of approximately 12 semester credit hours of coursework.

Process Control Technician

Education and Training Level: Process Control Technicians typically need at least a two-year A.S. or A.A.S. degree. While Industrial Engineering Technicians may participate in registered apprenticeships, a B.S. in Engineering Technology may be required to advance in management or engineering pathways.
Preferred: B.S. degree

Solar Content Integration: Well-accepted standards for Process Control Technicians are in place, as are embedded automation and lean-manufacturing certificate programs in Engineering Technology A.S. and A.A.S. degree programs. A single course in photovoltaic cell and module and/or solar thermal-collector fabrication could easily be integrated into one of these certificate programs, which usually consist of approximately 12 semester credit hours of coursework.

Component Production | ADVANCED LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

Component production advanced level

Industrial Engineer

Education and Training Level: A four-year degree in math, science or engineering is the basic requirement for all potential Industrial Engineers. To advance, an Industrial Engineer should pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) degree and become licensed as a Professional Engineer.
Preferred: Postgraduate degree
Solar Content Integration: An attractive option for students interested in working in the solar-manufacturing industry would be a three-semester, credit-hour (or equivalent) course in photovoltaic systems engineering, possibly as an upper-division elective, combined with a capstone engineering-design project related to PV or solar thermal component manufacturing processes.

Mechanical Engineer

Education and Training Level: A B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering is required. To advance their careers, Mechanical Engineers can take formal courses, study professional or trade journals, and/or pursue post-graduate degrees in engineering.
Preferred: Postgraduate degree

Solar Content Integration: An attractive option for students interested in working in the solar-manufacturing industry would be a 3 credit-hour course (for a semester or an equivalent number of instructional hours) in photovoltaic systems engineering, possibly as an upper-division elective, combined with a capstone engineering-design project related to PV or solar thermal component manufacturing processes.

Electrical Engineer

Education and Training Level: A B.S. in Electrical Engineering is required. To advance in the solar field, Electrical Engineers also need several years of work-related experience and relevant on-the-job training. Entry-level engineers work as junior team members under the supervision of senior engineers. Some jobs require a Professional Engineer (P.E.) license.
Preferred: Postgraduate degree, P.E. license

Solar Content Integration: An attractive option for students interested in working in the solar-manufacturing industry would be a 3 credit-hour course (for a semester or an equivalent number of instructional hours) in photo-voltaic systems engineering, possibly as an upper-division elective, combined with a capstone engineering-design project related to PV component manufacturing processes.

Environmental Engineer

Education and Training Level: An Environmental Engineer must have a B.S. degree in Environmental Engineering and be conversant in analytical and scientific software, compliance software, and graphic imaging and CAD technology. An M.S. or Ph.D. degree would assist further advancement.
Preferred: Postgraduate degree

Solar Content Integration: An attractive option for students interested in working as Environmental Engineers in the solar manufacturing industry would be a 3 credit-hour course (for a semester or an equivalent number of instructional hours) in photovoltaic manufacturing processes and/or photovoltaic systems engineering, possibly as an upper division elective, combined with a capstone engineering-design project related to photovoltaic and semiconductor manufacturing processes.

Materials Scientist

Education and Training Level: This position requires either an M.S. or Ph.D. in Materials Science or Applied Physics, with working knowledge of physics of materials, crystal growth, ceramic fabrication, thin-film deposition, and characterization. It also requires a thorough understanding of materials at elevated temperatures, adhesion, and process optimization.
Preferred: Doctorate degree

Solar Content Integration: Masters or doctorate-level courses in solar cells and semiconductor manufacturing processes, combined with a related thesis or dissertation topic, would be very useful to Material Scientists interested in working in the solar manufacturing industry.

 

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