What Is a Solar Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Technician?

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

Alternate Titles

PV Maintenance Technician, O&M Specialist, Solar Field Technician, Solar Power Technician, Solar O&M Service Technician

Apprenticeships

Maintenance Technician is an approved occupation for Registered Apprenticeships through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), with a typical program duration of two years. Visit the DOL website to learn more about the apprenticeship

An Electrician apprenticeship is another pathway into Solar O&M Technician positions. Due to the electrical nature of solar equipment, extensive knowledge of electrical systems and safety practices is required to perform the job. An apprenticeship as an Electrician covers many other areas such as maintenance and repair work.

Education and Experience

To become a Solar O&M Technician, individuals may: 

  • Complete a Registered Apprenticeship Program.
  • Complete an electrical construction and maintenance certificate or degree program.
  • Choose a combination of on-the-job learning and self-study. 

 

In some states, Solar O&M Technicians must be licensed as journey-level Electricians. Electrician work is a licensed trade with state and local regulations defining the requirements to perform the work. In most cases, electricians must pass an electrical license examination.

Salary Range

$50,500–$90,500/year1

Solar O&M Technicians perform operations and maintenance on solar photovoltaic systems. This involves highly technical performance monitoring with sophisticated instrumentation and controls. They inspect, evaluate, test, repair, and maintain solar module arrays, mounting hardware, inverters, switchgear, circuit breakers, transformers, batteries, data acquisition systems, relays, programmable logic controllers, revenue meters, weather stations, and other components. 

As systems increase in size and complexity, the job may entail more operations than maintenance, including sophisticated technical monitoring, control, and performance engineering. O&M Technicians frequently interact with professional contract personnel onsite and routinely travel between facilities.

O&M Technicians are in high demand. As more and more solar energy systems are put into service, more businesses are looking for skilled O&M Techs. This is an outstanding opportunity to launch a challenging and fulfilling career.

The Job

As a Solar O&M Technician, daily tasks may include:2

  • Inspect, evaluate, test, repair, and maintain solar equipment and systems.
  • Use test equipment and other tools to diagnose problems in malfunctioning systems and fix issues accordingly. 
  • Inspect, evaluate, test, repair, and maintain a multitude of other related machinery and tools, including mounting hardware, combiner fuse boxes, inverters, switchgear, circuit breakers, transformers, batteries, data acquisition systems, relays, programmable logic controllers, meters, weather stations, and other components. 
  • Use a variety of tools including power tools, measuring devices, and testing devices such as multimeters and megohmmeters.
  • Work as part of a team to manage and train other employees on the operations and maintenance of solar systems.
  • Engage in physically demanding work, including climbing ladders, lifting heavy objects, or replacing materials. 
  • Manage projects and related supply orders, paperwork, and staff schedules.

 

A more complete list of job tasks for the Solar O&M Technician role can be found on the U.S. Department of Labor O*Net website.

Career Pathways and Advancement

Most companies that hire Solar O&M Technicians have multiple advancement levels that bring added responsibilities and increased pay. Journey-level O&M Technicians may be promoted to Site Supervisor or Project Foreman. O&M Technicians may have the opportunity to move into related occupations such as Fleet Manager or Operations Manager, which would require additional on-the-job experience. 

Solar O&M Technicians may go on to a related trade such as Electrician. Transitions into management or engineering positions are also common. Experienced O&M Technicians may also become trainers. Entrepreneurial-minded individuals may go on to start businesses as solar installation contractors or maintenance service providers. 

For more information about career advancement opportunities and paths, visit the IREC Solar Career Map.

Work Environment

Both indoors and outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. Solar O&M Technicians may work in residential and commercial buildings, industrial facilities, or utility-scale power plants. 

Certification and Licensing

In some states, an electrical license is required to perform maintenance and repair work on electrical systems. Based on the state, Electricians need to reach a certain amount of hours of work experience before they are eligible to take the licensing exam. 

Other certifications, such as the OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour certification, may also be required or recommended. Industry-specific certifications may include the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) PV Commissioning & Maintenance Specialist (PVCMS) and PV Installation Professional. Training in instrumentation, controls, communications, and networking systems is also helpful.

Tips for Entry

To get a foot in the door, consider applying for entry-level positions at construction companies that have solar work as part of their portfolio. Individuals can start an O&M Technician apprenticeship or find out how their work experience can count toward hours to qualify for a licensing exam. 

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.
  2. This task list is paraphrased from O*Net Online, "Maintenance Workers, Machinery (accessed June 2024), https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/49-9043.00