How to Get a Green Job in the Solar Energy Industry

Green jobs make people happier according to a new study that showed higher morale in employees working for sustainably-minded employers. It should follow, then, that those working in the solar industry should be pretty satisfied with their green jobs. And given the massive growth in the solar jobs industry in recent years, the workforce should soon be getting even happier.

Current Developments in the Solar Energy Industry

If you’re interested in getting a job in the solar industry, your green career prospects are pretty good. According to leading solar industry reports, there has been significant growth in solar energy produced in the US, despite a slow economy:

Via Flickr: jurvetson

With the extension of tax credits for renewable energy installations in the US, the growth in the US solar market should continue for several years to come. Beyond that, many are predicting grid parity for solar compared to conventional fossil fuel energies within 10 years, which should signal outstanding future growth. The US Energy Efficiency Administration publishes a Renewable Net Generation of Energy by state, which shows the following capacity (2008 figures in thousand kilowatt hours):

  • California – 611,763
  • Nevada – 150,858
  • Colorado – 16,530
  • Arizona – 13,759
  • Florida – 10,225
  • New Jersey – 2,438
  • North Carolina – 2,322
  • Massachusetts – 67
  • Hawai’i – 25

The Types of Green Jobs Available in the Solar Energy Industry

Via Flickr: CoCreatr

Let’s demystify the solar jobs sector by outlining some of the more common jobs available for those interested in green careers in renewable energy:

  • ICE technician: The Instrumentation/Controls/Electrical (ICE) Systems technicians are responsible for monitoring and repairing the instruments, electrical systems, and controls used in solar systems (utility scale). You’ll need several years of experience troubleshooting and repairing plant instruments.
  • PV fabrication and testing technician: Create and test solar cells. Jobs usually require a degree in electronics or electrical engineering, material science, physics, chemistry, or equivalent experience.
  • Solar and PV roofing installer: This green career choice will have you up on rooftops ensuring the solar system components are properly installed and that they will not compromise the structural integrity or cause leaking for the building. A high school diploma is all that is needed, though on the job experience will be necessary.
  • Solar cell designer: As a scientist with an advanced degree in electrical engineering, materials science, chemistry, physics, or renewable energy, you’ll design various types of solar cells.
  • Solar commercial installation engineering technician: You’ll provide high-level tech support for field technicians and engineers. Your degree or apprenticeship in solar installation or electrical engineering will be a huge help.
  • Solar energy system installer: These individuals install and repair solar energy systems (solar thermal or solar photovoltaic) for residential, commercial, or industrial facilities. Usually requires a diploma or certification in solar installation.
  • Solar manufacturing technician: In this career track, you’re going to be creating solar hot water and solar PV systems in the plant. You’ll likely need a degree in electronics or electrical engineering, material science, physics, chemistry, or other work experience.
  • Solar installation electrician: Using your skills as a certified energy practitioner or a certified solar PV installer, you’ll install solar electric generating systems on a variety of sites.
  • Solar lab technician: People with these jobs assemble solar panels and solar arrays using shop tools and machinery. To get a job here, you’ll need a high school diploma and sometimes solar training.
  • Solar operations engineer: This is one of the top positions in the solar industry and will require an engineering degree as well as many years of experience. In this position, you’ll integrate partners to design solar facilities and be the go-to person for solar technologies and innovation.
  • Solar plant project manager: These individuals are in command of an entire solar plant. To get a job as a manager, you’ll need training or education in electrical or energy engineering, and have high levels of experience in the field.
  • Solar sales consultant: If you like to make the sale, try out this green career. You’ll work with residential or commercial clients to draw up sales plans, prepare proposals, and help close sales with clients. You’ll want to have education or experience in marketing, sales or sciences.
  • Solar system designer: If you like to design entire projects, this is a great option. Here, you’ll design a variety of solar systems for buildings of all shapes and sizes. You’ll need trade school education or apprenticeship training in electronics, solar theory, mechanics, physics, or design.

Main Image Via Flickr: CoCreatr

This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at

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