What is a Solar Installer?

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Learn more about experience requirements, the work environment, and advancement opportunities.

Alternate Titles

Solar Technician, Solar Photovoltaic Installer, Solar Installation Technician, Crew Lead, Solar Mechanical Installer, Lead Solar Installer

Apprenticeships

Solar Installers may pursue their careers through a Registered Apprenticeship. There is no approved apprenticeship specifically for a Solar Installer, but there are several opportunities in related fields. Generally, Construction Craft Laborers or Carpenters install the mechanical components and affix the modules in solar occupations. Electricians install the electrical wiring and equipment. Employers may classify their Solar Installers as any one of these occupations in order to train them using the apprenticeship model.

Education

High school diploma, GED, or equivalent. An associate’s degree is preferred, but not required. Many firms offer on-the-job training or Registered Apprenticeship programs. 

Experience

Entry-level Solar Installers typically have a high school degree and one to three years of construction experience.

Salary Range

$35,000–$84,000/year1

Solar Installers are the solid core of the solar industry. They set up and maintain the equipment and wiring that connect a solar energy system to the electrical grid. Solar Installers can work in residential, commercial, and/or utility-scale installations, depending on their employer. They can work in cities, suburbs, or remote or rural areas. 

The Job

As a Solar Installer, tasks may include:

  • Design solar systems based on specific site characteristics and prepare system layout to maximize energy production of the system.
  • Set up safety equipment, ladders, and tools.
  • Use necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), including hard hats, gloves, and protective eyewear. 
  • Measure, cut, assemble, and bolt structural framing to the roof or ground mount. 
  • Safely attach panels to roofs or ground mounts using a variety of hand and power tools. 
  • Wire and connect the system to an inverter. 
  • Inspect installed equipment, structures, and materials to determine code and safety compliance. 
  • Commission the system, ensuring that it meets basic performance estimates. 
  • Engage in physically demanding work, including climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects, digging trenches, and working in a variety of weather conditions. 

Visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net Online website for a more detailed list of tasks for Solar Installers.

High-Demand Job

With the growing need for electrification and solar technology, there is a huge demand for Solar Installers. As the need for Solar Installers increases, there is more job security, opportunities for competitive pay, and a wide array of potential employers. 

Career Pathways and Advancement

Entry-level Solar Installers can advance into a Lead Solar Installer, Site Supervisor, or Solar Project Manager position. With additional training or certification, Solar Installers can move into related occupations such as Solar Operations and Maintenance Technicians for utility-scale and commercial sites, or Residential PV Systems Designers for residential sites. A teaching credential or additional training could allow the advancement to an Instructor position. For more information about career advancement opportunities and paths, visit the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Solar Career Map. 

Work Environment

Solar Installers work both indoors and outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. They may work in customers’ homes with a broad range of household types (both single-family and multifamily), or at commercial or utility-scale sites. Utility-scale solar Installations may include working at remote work sites for a period of several weeks. Daily work may involve heavy lifting, bending, and climbing. Adherence to safety protocols and proper use of personal protective equipment are essential. Job opportunities may be available as either full-time or part-time, with flexible schedules depending on the employer’s needs. 

Certification and Licensing

Certifications or a license are not required to become a Solar Installer in most states, as long as they are not performing electrical construction work. Certain certifications may make an individual a more competitive candidate, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-hour or 30-hour certification or the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic Associate Credential. 

Tips for Entry

To prepare for a career as a Solar Installer, consider taking courses in construction or building science. Consider obtaining certifications, such as NABCEP certifications or an OSHA 10- or 30-hour certification, to be a more competitive candidate. To get a foot in the door, consider applying for entry-level positions at construction companies that have solar work as part of their portfolios.

Connect Now

Ready to take the next step? Make connections with employers and training providers on Green Workforce Connect.
  1. Wage data is based on information in the IREC solar career map. Information on the methodology can be found here.