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Become A Solar Installer PV

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Working As A Solar Installer PV

  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • $104,333

    Average Salary

What Does A Solar Installer PV Do

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, often called PV installers, assemble, install, or maintain solar panel systems on roofs or other structures.

Duties

PV installers typically do the following:

  • Plan PV system configuration based on customer needs and site conditions
  • Install solar modules, panels, or support structures in accordance with building codes and standards
  • Connect PV panels to the power grid
  • Apply weather sealing to equipment being installed 
  • Activate and test PV systems to verify performance
  • Perform routine PV system maintenance

Sunlight is considered an environmentally friendly source of energy. By way of photovoltaic panels, sunlight is transformed into electricity. Recent technological advances have sufficiently reduced the cost of solar panels to make it a viable source of electricity for businesses and homeowners alike. PV installers put these systems in place.

PV installers use a variety of hand and power tools to install photovoltaic panels. They often use wrenches, saws, and screwdrivers to connect panels to frames, wires, and support structures.

Many new workers begin by performing basic tasks, such as installing support structures and placing PV panels or PV shingles on top of them. Once the panels are in place, more experienced installers usually perform more complex duties, such as connecting electrical components.

Depending on the job and state laws, PV installers may connect the solar arrays to the electric grid, although electricians sometimes perform this duty. Once installed, workers check electrical systems for proper wiring, polarity, grounding, and integrity of terminations, and perform maintenance as needed.

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How To Become A Solar Installer PV

There are multiple paths to becoming a solar photovoltaic (PV) installer, often called PV installers. Some workers need only a high school diploma and receive on-the-job training lasting up to 1 year. Other candidates take a course at a technical school or community college. Some PV installers learn to install panels as part of an apprenticeship.

Education

Some PV installers take courses at local community colleges or trade schools to learn about solar panel installation. Courses range from basic safety and PV knowledge to system design. Although course length varies by state and locality, most usually last a few days to several months.

Some candidates may enter the field by taking online training courses. This is particularly useful for candidates with prior construction experience, such as former electricians.

Training

Some PV installers learn their trade on the job by working with experienced installers. On-the-job training usually lasts between 1 month and 1 year, during which workers learn about safety, tool use, and PV system installation techniques.

Solar PV system manufacturers may also provide specific training on a product. Such training usually includes a system overview and proper installation techniques of the manufacturer’s products.

Some large construction contractors provide training to new employees on their own. Workers learn basic PV safety and are given increasingly complex tasks as they prove their abilities.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Defense launched the Solar Ready Vets program in 2014 to connect veterans with jobs in the solar industry.

Although there are currently no apprenticeship programs for solar photovoltaic installers, some learn PV installation through other occupational apprenticeship programs. Electrician and roofing apprentices and journey workers may complete photovoltaic-specific training modules.

In most states, an electrician is fully qualified to connect PV systems to electric grids. They are also able to connect panels to inverters and batteries.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Residential panel installers must work in customers’ homes. As a result, workers must maintain professionalism and perform the work in a timely manner.

Detail oriented. PV installers must carefully follow instructions during installation. If they fail to do so, the system may not work properly.

Mechanical skills. PV installers work with complex electrical and mechanical equipment. They must be able to build support structures that hold PV panels in place and properly connect the panels to the electrical system.

Physical stamina. PV installers are often on their feet carrying panels and other heavy equipment. When installing rooftop panels, workers may need to climb ladders many times during the course of the day.

Physical strength. PV installers must often lift heavy equipment, parts, and tools. Workers should be strong enough to lift panels that weigh up to 50 pounds.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Experience in construction may shorten a new employee’s training time. For example, workers with experience as an electrician, roofer, carpenter, or laborer typically already understand and can perform basic construction duties.

In addition, those with knowledge of electrical work, such as electricians, are highly valued by contractors.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not mandatory, PV installers may obtain certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners. Certification can demonstrate professionalism and basic PV knowledge to employers. To qualify, workers must complete at least 58 hours of advanced PV training at an accredited school or organization, as well as a 10-hour construction safety course through Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). They also need to pass an exam and show documentation of having led three to five PV installation projects, depending on prior experience.

The Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA) also offers photovoltaic installer certification. Education and training must be taken from an ETA-approved school.

There is also the Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP) credential offered by Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) Inc. In order to qualify, workers need to prove they have 40 hours of education or training related to basic competencies. Additionally, candidates need to have 3 years of roofing or PV installation experience and have completed at least five PV installations. They must also pass a test.

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Solar Installer PV Demographics

Gender

Male

90.4%

Female

8.3%

Unknown

1.3%
Ethnicity

White

44.6%

Hispanic or Latino

34.5%

Black or African American

8.9%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

5.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Solar Installer PV Education

Schools

William M. Maguy School of Education

8.3%

Drexel University

8.3%

College of the Desert

8.3%

Fresno City College

8.3%

Western Washington University

4.2%

International Academy of Design and Technology

4.2%

Kapiolani Community College/University of HI Community Colleges

4.2%

San Antonio College

4.2%

San Diego Mesa College

4.2%

Adelphi University

4.2%

Lincoln Technical Institute

4.2%

Allan Hancock College

4.2%

Saint Cloud State University

4.2%

University of Pittsburgh - Bradford

4.2%

University of Antelope Valley

4.2%

DeVry University

4.2%

Cuyamaca College

4.2%

Palo Verde College

4.2%

San Jose City College

4.2%

Bakersfield College

4.2%
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Majors

Electrical Engineering Technology

14.0%

Business

12.3%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

10.5%

Electrical Engineering

10.5%

General Studies

7.0%

Criminal Justice

7.0%

Electrical And Power Transmission Installers

5.3%

Audiovisual Communications Technologies

3.5%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

3.5%

Psychology

3.5%

Photography

3.5%

Project Management

3.5%

Communication

3.5%

Agricultural Engineering

1.8%

Science, Technology, And Society

1.8%

International Business

1.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.8%

Drafting And Design

1.8%

Medical Technician

1.8%

Computer Information Systems

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

31.9%

Associate

27.8%

Bachelors

20.8%

Certificate

12.5%

Masters

2.8%

Diploma

2.8%

Doctorate

1.4%
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Top Skills for A Solar Installer PV

  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Control Panels
  3. Lay
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Read blueprints to ensure proper layout of panels, and to determined gauge/number of wire.
  • Installed over 5,500 Solar Modules and connected them in series in strings of 12.
  • Install module array interconnect wiring, implementing measures to disable arrays during installation.
  • Communicate with foreman and assure everything that needed to be installed was installed accordingly.
  • Job Duties: Design, Layout, DC electrical work, Panel racking, solar panel mounting, fine finish work.

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