Solar Power Jobs

By Eric Hammer

Solar power jobs are big news these days. While the concept of deriving electricity from the sun has been around for many years now, it has always been better in theory than in practice since in practice, it was still too expensive to be practical. All that has changed over the past few years as solar power and solar power jobs have come into their own.

When discussing jobs in solar power, we have to make a distinction. There are dozens of jobs involved in solar power in much the same way that any major industry will have dozens of jobs (think the car industry for example, which has design engineers, assembly workers, salespeople, etc.). For the sake of brevity however, we’ll cover some of the most popular jobs in the solar power industry.

Solar power installers work mostly on rooftops and do the grunt work of installing solar power in buildings. While some solar farms are being opened around the world, where the solar panels will be installed on the ground and all pointed at the sun in order to create a power plant, the industry is still largely focused on private homes and businesses. Another popular job is solar power technicians. Unlike installers, technicians inspect photovoltaic cells to make sure they are operating properly and don’t need to be replaced or fine tuned.

Those with degrees may get jobs as solar engineers or solar project managers. In both these cases, you will be working on designing solar panels or on designing a system for solar power generation and you will have to have a degree in solar engineering to get a job like this.

How Much Can You Make?

Solar installers, the lowest rung of solar power jobs pay pretty well. According to Job Monkey, solar installers earn between $14 to $20 per hour for work that is physical in nature and does not require a college degree, though a certain amount of training and possibly experience will be required.

By contrast, the average wage for solar engineers, according to the bureau of labor statistics, is $43 per hour or $89,000 per year (mind you, that’s average – some make more and some make less). Of course, for this kind of job, you need an engineering degree.

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In general, keep in mind that any solar power job will require a certain amount of training (more on this in a moment). You’ll also need to be serious about your craft and you’ll need to consider living in specific states where solar power makes more sense California for example has a number of solar power jobs whereas Maine probably has fewer jobs given the colder weather there).

If you are interested in working in green jobs but for whatever reason don’t want to get involved with solar power jobs, consider looking at wind power and hydro electric power jobs. Both of these are also expected to show growth.

Qualifications / Requirements

No matter which solar power jobs you are interested in, expect to need some training. Solar installers must be licensed and will need training in electrical wiring (many people who have been certified as electricians for example work in this field). While a college degree is not required, it does mean going for one to two years of training.

Those interested in higher lever jobs in the solar power industry will need a college degree and possibly a master’s degree. Typical degrees for this kind of work include engineering and sciences degrees. Note that a handful of schools also offer specialized solar power engineering degrees which are the ideal way to break into the industry.

First Steps

Start by deciding which track you are interested in. If you want a white collar job designing solar power systems, you will need a college degree in engineering and it may help to obtain a masters degree as well.

If on the other hand you are interested in becoming a solar installer, contact companies that are involved in the solar power business and ask if they offer on the job training for their employees. If they don’t, find out what they require specifically in the way of training and go to school to get that training.


Mother Nature Network: Jobs in the Solar Power Industry – This web site has a wealth of information about solar power jobs in general, though this particular article focuses on what you’ll need in order to break into the business.

Job Monkey: Green Collar Careers – This is a very good run down of the various jobs in the solar power industry. While not exhaustive, it is a fairly comprehensive article.

Jobs in Solar Power – This is a jobs board where you can learn more about solar power jobs and find actual job openings available right now.

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