The job market for solar workers continues to expand rapidly. According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, there are nearly 174,000 solar workers in the industry today. That’s a growth rate of 86% in the last five years. However, if you have noticed your enrollment in solar training courses is stagnating, perhaps it is time to redefine a career in solar in your region. Although essential to this exploding market, the solar installer is not the only opportunity. If you are considering adding a new solar course to your existing training program, use the links on this page to explore the wide range of solar careers, learn what training might be in demand in your area, and attract students.
Does your clean energy program need a shot in the arm? Based on enrollment, you have probably realized the need for trained installers is only part of the big picture. We have seen the boom and bust cycle of solar installer training. As the solar industry continues to grow and expand, the jobs are more diverse than ever. Visit the ‘IREC Solar Career Map‘ to explore more than 40 jobs across 4 industry sectors to get a picture of the opportunities available at all levels. These featured jobs represent only a fraction of the diverse opportunities in this growing industry.
Use a Competency Model
Consider the many ways you could help a student gain entry to a career in solar. Do you currently train CNC operators and manufacturing techs? Yes, they are needed in solar manufacturing too. Beyond the entry level jobs, many of the jobs in the map are mid-level and advanced. What career training can you offer to help a student transfer his/her skills to a new career in solar? For example an Instrumentation and Electronics Technician has the foundation for several pathways of advancement. Jobs in solar are specialized, but build on foundational skills. To better understand the competencies required at the level featured in the solar career map, visit the competency model for Energy Generation, Transmission, and Distribution developed by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD). Learn more about how to use a competency model here.
Develop a new Solar Training Program
You have done your research on skills gaps and jobs in-demand in your region. Now you are ready to augment an electrical or trades program with a solar-specific course. The SITN Best Practices, a compendium of national best practices for instructors in solar training, education and workforce development, give educators the right tools to develop and implement quality-training programs and prepare students with indispensable skills to enter the solar workforce. All seven Best Practices are web-based. Best Practices chapters 1-6 are also available as PDFs. Originally designed and developed by IREC in its capacity as the National Administrator of DOE’s SITN, these in-depth resources support instructors in:
- Developing new solar programs
- Integrating solar into related trades programs
- Enhancing existing solar education and training programs
Successes or questions? Please feel free to contact us. We would love to add your new program to the National Clean Energy Training Directory.
Instructors can take this free online course to get ideas about engaging students and creating learning activities: Best Practices in online course development. Take advantage of Guidance Documents and Best Practices in solar training to learn more about using the job task analysis to develop sound assessments and curricula.
Show that You’re the Best
Training organizations and instructors can separate themselves from the pack by meeting a rigorous industry-vetted standard. Learn about how you or your organization can benefit from IREC Credentials.