Quality installation of solar systems has been a major focus of education and training efforts for many years. Installing solar systems is a job for the construction trades. PV system installation relies very heavily on the skills and competencies of electricians. Roofing, carpentry, and other trade skills are often required as well. Solar thermal installation relies very heavily on plumbing skills and competencies—with roofing, electrical, carpentry, and other trade skills often required. System operation, monitoring, maintenance, troubleshooting and repair activities are typically served by trained technicians. Eleven occupations are shown on the career map for the installation and operations sector.

Installation and Operations | ENTRY LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

installation entry level

 

Solar Installation Helper

Education and Training Level: This is an entry-level position. Most of those seeking the position have a high school diploma or equivalent and learn through on-the-job training. Ideally, they have at least one year of field and classroom experience in solar. To advance, apprenticeship or an A.S. or A.A.S. degree is recommended.
Preferred: Apprenticeship in the construction trades
Solar Content Integration: Solar content can easily be integrated into post-secondary adult vocational (PSAV) training at community colleges or vocational-technical institutes, and complemented with on-the-job mentoring.

Mechanical Assembler

Education and Training Level: Solar Equipment Assemblers typically learn on the job.
Preferred: High school diploma or equivalent
Solar Content Integration: Solar content can easily be integrated into post-secondary adult vocational (PSAV) training at community colleges or vocational-technical institutes, and complemented with on-the-job mentoring.

Installation and Operations | MID LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

Installation mid level

 

HVAC Technician with Solar Expertise

Education and Training Level: This position requires a two-year HVAC degree and four years of experience, or participation in a registered apprenticeship program that combines paid, on-the-job training with classroom education. Solar related instruction is often available in both programs. Some states require HVAC technicians to be licensed.
Preferred: Associate or Journey-Level degree; license
Solar Content Integration: Well-defined and accepted standards and curriculum frameworks for HVAC technicians have been developed and are widely used in apprenticeship programs by education and training institutions throughout the country. A single course in the installation, operation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair of solar systems—possibly embedded in an apprentice program or in a certificate program as part of a two-year A.A.S. degree program—would provide the skills needed to work with solar systems.

Roofer with Solar Expertise

Education and Training Level: Roofers are typically trained on the job. They may undergo a three-year apprenticeship, but it is not required. Many solar companies hire roofers and train them to work with solar panels, or train solar electricians to install them properly on roofs.
Preferred: Journeyman Roofer
Solar Content Integration: The National Roofing Contractors Association has developed a job-task analysis
specifically for roof-integrated solar energy that is used to certify roofing professionals involved with solar installations. The solar content that is integrated in the training deals only with those aspects of installations that are within the scope of work for roofing contractors. Alternatives for integrating solar content include on-the-job training
with a solar contractor or short courses and workshops that specifically address solar system installation.

Solar Thermal Installer (Residential/Small Commercial)

Education and Training Level: Entry-level Solar Thermal Installers are trained by more experienced installers. Most states require a plumbing license. In addition to licensure, advanced installers can seek certification. Preferred: Associate Degree or Journeyman Plumber certification; license Solar Content Integration: Solar Thermal Installers can receive installation training via plumbing apprenticeship programs that teach solar installation, or via certificate programs embedded in A.S. or A.A.S. programs in plumbing.

Solar PV Installer (Residential/Small Commercial)

Education and Training Level: Entry-level Solar PV Installers typically have a high school degree, or equivalent,
and construction experience. To advance, PV Installers should complete a two-year degree or apprenticeship in the construction trades, as well as solar training at an industry-recognized institution. License is required in some states.
Preferred: Associate degree or Journeyman, Electrician certification; license
Solar Content Integration: Solar PV Installers can receive PV installation training via electrical construction apprenticeship programs that teach PV system installation, or via certificate programs embedded in A.S. or A.A.S.
programs in PV energy systems or in A.O.S. programs in electrical construction and maintenance.

Solar Thermal Technician (Commercial/Utility)

Education and Training Level: Entrants into this occupation usually transfer into solar from related construction
jobs. Many have come up through apprenticeship programs. Certification, master plumber licensing, or a B.S. in
engineering can assist in career advancement.
Preferred: Master Plumber or B.S. degree; certification
Solar Content Integration: In addition to a plumbing trade apprenticeship program and added journeyman
training with integrated solar content, training in solar thermal system monitoring, instrumentation, measurements,
and troubleshooting would be of significant value for this occupation.

Solar PV Technician (Commercial/Utility)

Education and Training Level: This position requires a Journeyman Electrician license or Journey Power Plant
Electrician license. To advance, certification or a master electrician license is encouraged. Preferred: Master Electrician degree; certification.
Solar Content Integration: In addition to electrical construction apprenticeship programs with integrated solar
content, 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 a variety of solar courses related to installation, operation, instrumentation, measurements, computer networking, and diagnostics for PV systems. Integrating one or more of these courses into already available degree programs could be easily accomplished.

Electrician with Solar Expertise

Education and Training Level: Electricians can be trained through registered apprenticeships that combine worksite and classroom instruction. Advancing to Journeyman Electrician requires three to five years of experience and successfully passing an examination. Solar expertise requires further experience and training. Master electricians
typically need seven years of experience or a B.S. degree and must pass an examination.
Preferred: Journeyman electrician degree; license
Solar Content Integration: Organizations such as the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee,
jointly sponsored by the IBEW and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), have made efforts to integrate PV training into their electrical apprenticeship programs over much of the last decade. Consequently,
many of the more than 300 IBEW training centers include PV system training in their apprenticeship program, as
well as similar training for journeyman electricians and electrical contractors. The Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) Association has made similar efforts among their constituents, as have Underwriters Laboratory University, the Electronics Technicians Association International, and the National Center for Construction Education and Research. In addition, many community colleges and vocational-technical institutes offer solar training as part of
their electrical construction programs.

Plumber with Solar Expertise

Education and Training Level: Plumbers may receive training through supervised apprenticeships combining
work-site and classroom instruction and can be licensed after two to five years of experience and successfully passing an examination. They can also earn a two-year degree in plumbing/HVAC. To enter the solar industry, plumbers need specialized training.
Preferred: Journeyman Plumber degree; license
Solar Content Integration: Many plumbing apprenticeship programs are integrating solar thermal content into their plumbing curriculum.

Installation and Operations | ADVANCED LEVEL OCCUPATIONS

Installation advanced level

 

Solar Installation Contractor

Education and Training Level: This position requires an approved state or local license. A master tradesman license may also be required. Solar certification and specific training in construction project management is ideal.
Preferred: Bachelor’s or Master Tradesman Degree; certification
Solar Content Integration: Licensing requirements for contractors who install solar systems vary from state to state, and sometimes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction within a state. To become a contractor, candidates are required to pass examinations that cover both business contracting and technical content. Required solar knowledge and skills can be obtained in many different ways—including continuing education courses in solar design and installation, apprenticeship training for the construction trades, certificate programs, or individual courses offered as part of degree programs.

 

 

 

 

 

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