The more the cost of residential and commercial solar power installations falls, the more the demand for solar power increases. And that means the need for experienced solar power installers is soaring.
“Companies are not interested in education; they’re looking for experience,” says Andrea Luecke, executive director of the Solar Foundation. The average wage for a solar installer is about $24/hour, according to Luecke. Sales positions in the industry pay up to $36/hour and also require no college degree.
Total employment in the solar industry rose to 174,000 in the US in 2014. That’s up almost 22% from the previous year. Of those, about 95,000 workers are directly involved in installing home solar equipment or building large commercial solar farms. Luecke says the industry expects to add another 36,000 workers in 2015.
The cost of a utility-scale photovoltaic power project has dropped from $3.80 per watt in 2010 to $1.68 per watt today. That translates to about 6 cents per kilowatt hour today, Mike Carr, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, says. “The more affordable solar gets, the faster solar will grow,” he added.
So how does someone looking for a job get started as a solar power installer? One way is by contacting GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization that brings together community partners, volunteers, and job trainees to implement solar power and energy efficiency for low-income families, providing energy cost savings, valuable hands-on experience, and a source of clean, local energy.
To date, more than 5000 families have benefited from the organization’s work and saved more than $125 million in lifetime electricity costs. In addition, over 19,000 people have received solar panel installation training. GRID Alternatives has offices in California, Colorado, New York, the mid-Atlantic region, and Tribal communities nationwide.
Or search for solar power job training programs in your area. The important thing is to get started. The sooner you acquire the skills solar companies are looking for, the sooner you can start earning a living while helping America convert to clean, renewable solar power.