The United States has a shortage of vocational workers, and schools are beginning to encourage young adults entering the workforce to consider trade careers. A trade that is now booming is solar technology. So what do you need to do to become a solar technician? We've done the research to give you an answer.
To become a solar technician, one must have a high school diploma or equivalent and a valid driver's license. Some may attend a vocational college to earn certifications in relation to solar technology.
Others may begin as an intern at a solar company and receive their education on the job, working toward certifications on their own time. If one desires to work as a self-employed solar technician, one must become licensed and acquire a solar permit.
So now you have an idea of the basic requirements for a solar technician, but you may have additional questions about the certifications needed for solar technology. You may also want to know more about the timeline of working toward this career. Keep reading to learn more.
Becoming A Solar Technician
When on the hunt for a vocational career, solar technology is a strong contender. Becoming a solar technician is not as simple as you may have thought, though. Here, we will cover all of the requirements and training in depth.
The most basic requirements to becoming a solar technician are first, that you have acquired either a high school diploma or equivalent, and second, that you have a valid driver's license.
But if you didn't graduate from high school, don't give up. You can earn what's called a GED (General Education Development), which is considered to be the equivalent of a high school diploma.
GEDs are an option for individuals that are not enrolled in high school and are 18 or over. Depending on your current level of education, you may take anywhere from 3 months to a year to prepare for the test.
When you're ready, you can schedule the test online at the GED Testing Service website. Keep in mind that the GED is separated into three sections—Mathematical Reasoning, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science, and you may have to take each subject separately depending on your state's requirements.
After you have taken the test, you can check your score. Anything 145 and over is a passing score, and you can then receive your transcript confirming your passing score from the GED Testing Service.
The other basic requirement, a valid driver's license, can be acquired during or after a training program, but it typically must be in your possession before you apply for jobs. This is because solar technicians are often dispatched to homes and businesses. So, they must have reliable transportation.
Once you have met both of the basic requirements, you can apply for entry-level solar technician jobs or internships. These jobs or internships will come with lower pay as you are trained on the job. While you are receiving this hands-on education, you should also be working towards acquiring certifications in the solar field.
One of these is a Photovoltaic Installer—Level 1 certification. This certification is offered by the Electronics Technicians Association.
This certification will give you better knowledge about solar principles and the performance of the technology. It will also prepare you for common troubleshooting situations that you will see in the field. A Photovoltaic Installer—Level 1 certification can be earned through an ETA-accredited vocational college.
Next on the list of certifications is the PV Installation Professional certification. This certification is not required for many solar technician jobs. But as you further your career and search for higher-paying opportunities, you may find that having this certification will give you a leg-up on the others applying for the same position.
The third to consider is the Roof System Installer certifications. These are actually three certifications and are meant for those who will be installing rooftop solar panels. These certifications give a solar technician a better understanding of building construction. They also provide education on electrical systems.
Vocational training programs are attractive because all of the preparation and testing for certifications are included in the program. Solar training programs are no different.
You could learn on the job and further your education in the field on your own time. But some prefer to focus their energy on an education program before entering the workforce. Furthermore, many of these schools offer hands-on training as a part of the program.
Solar technician training can either be received as a vocational certificate or as an associate's degree. Which you choose will depend on what your goals are and what programs are available to you.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Solar Technician?
Becoming a trained solar technician can take anywhere from 1 year to 2 years. This is if you already have a high school diploma or GED.
Most certification programs from vocational colleges will last 1 year. Associate's degrees, on average, take about 2 years to earn.
Becoming A Self Employed Solar Technician
It may be your dream to work for yourself or to own a company. This is a possibility with solar technology, and it can be a lucrative business. If you are on the track to becoming a self-employed solar technician, this will of course take a little more time and money.
You should first read up on the requirements of the state you would like to begin working in. Each state has its own requirements and pathway for becoming licensed to own an energy business and acquiring a solar permit.
Keep in mind that having all of the above certifications will also be very helpful to you. They will work to boost your credibility as a knowledgeable and trustworthy technician.
We have answered your initial question and gone into detail on how to reach your goal, but you may have some related questions. We'll answer some of the most common inquiries here.
How Much Do Solar Technicians Make?
When solar technicians enter the field as apprentices or interns, their salary will be around $30,000 per year or $15 per hour.
Solar technicians will then gain experience and education. Or, they may have graduated from a training program. Their entry-level salary will be around $40,000 per year or $20 per hour. The mean salary for solar technicians is around $60,000 per year or $30 per hour.
On the higher end, solar technicians can make up to $80,000 per year or $40 per hour. This all depends on years of experience, education, location, and performance.
A solar technician may go into business for himself and build a trusted solar company. His salary may be quite a bit higher than $80,000 per year.
How Do I Become A Solar Power Engineer?
A related career is solar power engineering. The education required for this career is more extensive. Solar power engineers must earn a bachelor's degree in mechanical, civil, or electrical engineering. This degree takes around 4 years to complete.
If you desire to work in the solar power industry, you can find out if your school has an emphasis on solar energy. You can also search for internships with solar companies while you're still attending college.
Solar technology is a worthwhile career to pursue. We found that you can become a solar technician by entering the workforce as an apprentice to receive on-the-job training while earning certifications.
Or, you can attend a training program and earn a certificate or associate's degree in the field before entering the workforce. The choice is yours! We hope that this information gave you direction and confidence as you work toward your goals.
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