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Kaplan Clean Tech Education
Kaplan Professional Div
395 Hudson St
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New York, NY 10014
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The Definitive Guide to Getting a Job in Solar


Things are looking up for the solar energy industry, which means less dependence on fossil fuels, a greener environment, and more jobs! Although many of these jobs require specific technical skills, harnessing the opportunity in this booming industry is not as intimidating as it may seem. Just follow this easy-to-use guide and you’ll be well on your way to securing rewarding, long-term employment in one of the nation’s fastest growing sectors. 

 

SOLAR ENERGY TODAY

U.S Energy Sources 2012.jpg2013 was a prosperous year for the solar industry in the U.S, with 4,751 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) installations. This represents a 41% increase compared to 2012. Solar power now accounts for 29% of all new electricity generation capacity, a 19% increase in one year. Another sign of good health, the industry added over 18,000 new jobs in 2013 and over 142,000 Americans now work in the solar industry.National Solar Jobs Census 2013.jpg

The industry’s customer base is increasing due to falling costs. The national average PV installed system price declined by 15% in Q4 2013 and the average price of a solar panel has declined by 60% since the beginning of 2011. These factors should be enough to encourage anyone looking for a job in this industry, we have a growing industry, a price drop for customers and incentives created to stimulate the demand. Such opportunities can only help the solar industry to grow even more and reach a certain maturity. Solar energy technologies have been developed to capture the sun’s energy directly to heat our homes and supply electricity. Although this is not a new development, the technology recently came to a point of distributing energy at cost and scale similar to other sources. Solar power or at least its origin, is free, abundant and infinitely renewable but the total cost of manufacturing and installing solar energy systems is usually compared and criticized as being more expensive than the price of utility rates for electricity. This trend is moving though and following price drops, solar power is now reaching what we call “grid-parity” or generating electricity at a cost matching the price of power from the electric grid. Solar energy can be captured through various techniques and methods, such as solar photovoltaics (PVs), solar thermal collectors, and solar architecture.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT:

Solar PV and Solar Thermal

The Rise of Solar Energy

The 7 Successes of Solar

Solar Opportunities

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to joining the workforce that is championing this increasingly important renewable energy.

Now we also have an industry that requires a specific set of skills and this is where this guide comes in handy for people indeed interested to enter the solar industry but are unfamiliar with how exactly this industry works.

 

CHAPTER 1: DO YOUR RESEARCH

It’s an exciting time to break into the solar industry, but without the proper preparation, you might miss out on some key opportunities. Certain job fields are more abundant in specific areas, and some individuals qualify for subsidized training, so be sure to examine the offerings that are out there before deciding on a path. The solar industry employs more than just installers. Opportunities also abound in project development, sales and distribution, manufacturing, and other job functions. Consider your background and your strengths to decide which area of the field is right for you.

Some states are more “solar friendly” than others. Solar Power Rocks put together a state solar policy ranking using data on solar incentives (payback time on solar incentives, feed-in tariffs, tax credits, rebates, etc.), utility prices, interconnection policies and state metering policies.

Examine the ranking and see if your state is a solar hotspot. If not, don’t take this to mean that there is no opportunity there. It just means that your state might not have as many households motivated by state incentives to go solar. But if it’s anything like the rest of the country, it will catch on soon.

Some candidates, such as veterans of the armed forces and unemployed individuals, are eligible for federally or state-funded worker training programs. In fact, military veterans already make up almost 10% of the solar industry’s labor force. Learn more about How the Military is Fueling the Solar Industry.

As there is a range of job functions supporting the solar energy industry, so is there a variety of training options. Be sure to thoroughly review the different course offerings to get the right training and credentials to match what you’d like to do.

#rewpage#

Check out a full list of course offerings available in your area.

 

CHAPTER 2: GET THE TRAINING YOU NEED

As previously mentioned getting into a new industry is not an easy task and requires the learning of plenty of new information. Solar is no exception to the rule, as the industry is growing fast and receives tens of thousands of new workers every year. It became a competitive market, solar installers receive reams of resumes each week and you must find a way to differentiate yourself. It came to a point where know-how is still rewarded but not a token of employment.

The solar industry is still heavily subsidized by the government, the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is a 30% federal tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties running through December 31, 2016. This incentive was implemented in 2006 to support the deployment of solar energy in the United States. However, not all solar installations are eligible for a rebate, and only solar systems set up by NABCEP accredited installers will benefit from the ITC. This means that solar PV installers that want to take advantage of the growing demand, led by government incentives, must first become certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

Becoming NABCEP certified is more than just a way of securing more clients - it’s an opportunity to be recognized by your peers and differentiate yourself as an expert in your domain. Different types of training are offered according to the field where candidates want to specialize in. Geothermal Installer courses, for instance, focuses on IGSHPA Certification for geothermal installation, while Entry Level Solar PV training is geared toward passing the entry level NABCEP exam. For those looking to get into sales and distribution, there are Solar Sales Mastery courses, or Solar Finance MBA Bootcamp for anyone looking to learn the ins and outs of financing a solar project with models and helpful tools.

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT NABCEP:

The NABCEP certification

What are the advantages of passing the NABCEP exam?

Getting you NABCEP certification and how to use it

NABCEP through the eyes of our expert

 

CHAPTER 3: GET THE JOB YOU WANT

Once you have received the certification(s) and training necessary to give you a start, finding a job is the next step. As for every job search, there are some common traditional approaches, and networking is one of them. You must use all the resources you have at your disposal, and the great advantage of having followed a class or formation with other people is the network you will have developed there. Stay in contact with former classmates and teachers, reach them every time you think they might be helpful or might open doors for you, a lot of people are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help or recommendation but you might be surprised by the amount of people that will actually be willing to help. Job boards can be found online everywhere and depending on where you received your training or certification, some schools or training providers have their own network and job boards.

We mentioned earlier your professional background is important and can be taken into consideration to enter the solar industry, so do not hesitate to mention it and putting it upfront if you feel this could give you an advantage. Any former sales experience, for example, will be beneficial for any position in solar sales while technical experience/knowledge would fit a solar installer position.

Knowing the industry is an undeniable proof of your professionalism and is what will make hiring managers want to hire you. Know your subject by reading about industry news, solar financing, tax credits… and it’s this general knowledge that might make the difference during an interview.

 

LEARN MORE ON HOW TO GET A JOB IN SOLAR

Getting a job with our solar expert

Training and getting a job in the solar energy industry.

 

CHAPTER 4: BUILD PROFESSIONAL CONTINUITY

Once obtained, a certification must be maintained and certified solar professionals have the responsibility not only to keep their status but their knowledge updated. The recertification usually asks professionals to take part in a learning process to enhance their skills, knowledge and abilities in the renewable energy field. Recertification also reassures customers and employers that the solar professional is still committed to excellence and respects the NABCEP’s Code of Ethics.

Finally, and this can be applied to any industry, curiosity and “going the extra mile” will help you to become more aware of what is happening around you. What are the new trends driving your industry, how can you work be improved, what are competitors doing, finding these answers will make you not only a better professional but a better spokesperson for the solar industry.

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