The growth of solar industries seems to directly correlate with increased jobs in the USA. There were nearly 209,000 people employed in solar-related jobs in the United States in 2015. That’s up more than 20 percent over 2014 — representing 1-in-83 new jobs created last year — and is a 123 percent increase since 2010.
California led the way in job growth, according to the census, but 33 states, including the District of Columbia, added solar jobs over the past year, and many states experienced double‐digit growth, including Utah, Colorado, Rhode Island and South Carolina. If you’re a student or job seeker, now might be the time to pursue a career in solar or a related green energy field.
The majority of solar jobs, according to the Solar Foundation, are in installation (57.4 percent), followed by manufacturing (14.5 percent), sales and distribution (11.7 percent) and project development (10.7 percent).
Positions include engineers, designers, factory workers, marketers, salespeople, environmental scientists, product managers, software developers, dealers, installers, planners, financing experts, compliance officers, distribution managers, warehouse technicians, transportation and shipping workers.
Many skill sets are needed in the solar industry, and everyone plays a part in bringing the power of the sun to more homes and businesses worldwide.
Your education is the most important hiring requirement. About 35 percent of solar positions require a bachelor’s degree or higher.
For example, there are roles for candidates with education and experience in science and engineering, research and development, project planning and development, data analysis and environmental stewardship. Some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education or training can be helpful.
Additionally, business skills, including administrative, data modeling, operations management, marketing, sales, software development, supply chain and finance, can be valuable in an industry that is growing quickly and adapting to the market.
Installation and manufacturing jobs require hands-on skills, including physical labor, and having equipment and materials knowledge. Since employers report having a hard time finding experienced solar workers, though, a willingness and ability to receive training, along with some related and transferrable skills, could get your foot in the door.
There are several ways into the industry. If you’re a high school or college student you can attend solar education programs. College students can apply for internships in the solar industry. Adults looking to change careers can get training at community colleges or on the job as they work their way up. And, of course, you can apply directly for jobs at solar companies near you.
Start with your favorite job search site and search for the word “solar” and see what you find. You may be surprised by the tremendous variety of roles available and how your skills and interests match up.