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What Does a Solar Energy Technician Do?

The solar power industry is booming. It’s a smart time to take advantage of the job opportunities — and abundant sunshine — and become a solar energy technician. 

These technicians — also called solar technicians, solar techs, solar panel installers, solar energy photovoltaic installers or solar photovoltaic installers — assemble, install and maintain solar panels on homes, businesses or open land. 

Solar technicians install photovoltaic solar panels or PV panels, which convert sunshine into energy. They may also work with solar thermal panels, which capture the sun’s rays for usable heat. Depending on state laws, solar PV installers may connect the panels to the electrical grid.

Solar is a rare opportunity. It's a field that's growing, and solar technician is a career that requires a short preparation time yet pays a solid salary. If focused, on-the-job paid training sounds like a career plan that would work for your life, keep reading.

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$ 31,000 - $ 65,000
$ 46,000
2,540+
A solar technician installs solar panels with a sunset in the background
Solar technician jobs are projected to grow more than 60% during the next decade. (Credit: Sonpichit Salangsing/Shutterstock)

What It's Like To Be A Solar Technician

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Michael Crawford, solar technician for Sunrun

What It's Like To Be A Solar Technician

Michael Crawford learned about the solar industry through his work as an electrician, a job he’d held since graduating from high school. He was surprised and encouraged by what he saw — and he decided to take the leap.

He has no regrets about the move. In fact, now that Michael is a solar technician for Sunrun, he can’t imagine doing anything else. 

One of the best parts of the job is solving problems. “I love having to figure things out that might stump someone else. Being that guy always gives me real satisfaction.” 

Learn more about why he loves being a solar energy technician.

Job Responsibilities

  • Design a solar panel system based on customer needs and structural conditions
  • Assemble and install the racking, panels and electrical equipment
  • Connect the panels to the electrical system
  • Activate and test the solar panel system
  • Perform system maintenance
  • Troubleshoot electrical problems

How To Become A Solar Energy Technician: FAQs

What are the requirements to become a solar energy technician?

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent. Experience in mechanical or electrical installation can be helpful. Those with experience in the trades or the military have an advantage and may need minimal additional training. 

Many solar techs learn the trade on the job. Another path is to earn a certificate, diploma or degree at a local community college or trade school. In addition to hands-on training in solar panel installation, courses include photovoltaic applications, safety, electricity basics and system design. 

Students who finish a program can take the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic Associate (PVA) Exam.

As solar technology changes, it's important to keep up through continuing education. There are several certifications available, including those offered by NABCEP and the Electronics Technicians Association.

What other qualifications do I need?

Solar technicians need a driver’s license to get to job sites. Some states require self-employed solar technicians to have an electrical contractor license. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) maintains a state-by-state list.

How long does it take to become a solar technician?

On-the-job training can take anywhere from a month to a year. Courses and certificates from community colleges and trade schools take one to two years. 

Is there potential for job growth?

Yes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 52% employment growth, which is incredibly fast if you consider that growth for all jobs is about 8%. As the technology improves and more people and businesses install PV panels, growth is likely to continue. (Notably, employment growth just one of the reasons renewable energy jobs are trending.)

What skills and qualities would make someone a good fit for this job?

Successful solar technicians tend to share these traits: 

  • Strong communication skills to effectively interact with clients
  • Comfortable working outdoors, often high off the ground, on slanted surfaces and in other variable site conditions
  • Detailed-oriented
  • Enjoy working with complex electrical and mechanical equipment 
  • Know how to use a variety of hand and power tools
  • Physically fit and able to carry panels and other heavy equipment

The bottom line on becoming a solar energy technician: There’s no doubting the demand for this job. (That's why it's one of 6 skilled jobs that are in demand now.) If you’re someone who communicates well, likes fixing things and working outside, this is a career that promises good pay without the need to earn a four-year degree. Check out the training options near you.

Solar Energy Technician Training in Your Area

Coordinates
Hutchinson Community College logo

Renewable Energy Technology Certificate

Hutchinson Community College
Hutchinson (138.4 Miles)

Alternative Energy

Missouri State University - West Plains
West Plains (214.6 Miles)
Des Moines Area Community College logo

Renewable Energy Technology, A.A.S

Des Moines Area Community College
Ankey (338.2 Miles)
Amarillo College logo

Solar, A.A.S.

Amarillo College
Amarillo (366.5 Miles)
Texas State Technical College logo

Solor Energy Technology, A.A.S.

Texas State Technical College
Waco (384.8 Miles)
Texas State Technical College logo

Energency Efficiency Specialist Certificate 1

Texas State Technical College
Waco (384.8 Miles)
Eastern Iowa Community College District logo

Renewable Energy System specialist, A.A.S

Eastern Iowa Community College District
Davenport (411.2 Miles)
Minnesota West Community and Technical College logo

Solar Photovoltic Technician Certificate

Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Worthington (451.5 Miles)
Austin Community College District logo

Renewable Energy Specializaiton, A.A.S.

Austin Community College District
Austin (481.5 Miles)
Austin Community College District logo

Renewable Energy Specialization Level 1 Certificate

Austin Community College District
Austin (481.5 Miles)
Austin Community College District logo

Renewable Energy Specializaiton, A.A.S.

Austin Community College District
Austin (481.5 Miles)
Austin Community College District logo

Renewable Energy Specialization Level 1 Certificate

Austin Community College District
Austin (481.5 Miles)