Top 5 skills needed to work in the solar industry


Top 5 skills needed to work in the solar industry

The solar industry is expanding. In fact, according to the SolarReviews Solar Industry Survey, 63% of residential installers reported increased demand in 2022, and 73% of installers expect to sell more solar in 2023. With the industry growing, the need for workers is at an all-time high.

Solar is a diverse field, with plenty of different sectors to work in. Those looking to join this industry could work in installation, development, operation, manufacturing, and more!

A job in the solar industry requires skills that installers and developers should have to guarantee quality service to their customers. We’ve outlined the top skills that solar industry employers will look for on your resume so that you can get your foot in the door.

1. Experience and certifications

This is a bit of a no-brainer – but one of the most essential skills you’ll need to work in the solar industry is experience and holding certifications. According to our Solar Industry Survey, the most in-demand skills in solar are:

  • Trained in solar installation
  • Trained in electrical work
  • Construction experience

If you’re just starting out, you’re probably wondering how to get some experience under your belt. One of the best things you can do is take solar training courses. These courses aren’t always required for you to work in solar, but they’ll definitely stand out to employers on a resume. From a company standpoint, it’ll also stand out to customers when researching a reliable company to work with.

Some of the best training courses are through Solar Energy International (SEI), and many are available online and in person! SEI offers the Residential and Commercial Photovoltaic Systems certificate with five theory courses and one hands-on lab. The course covers everything from how to size a solar system and wire equipment safely to the basics of battery storage.

Another option is to get certification through the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). NABCEP is one of the most respected certification organizations in the solar industry and signals to future employers and homeowners that you’re a qualified professional. It also benefits you to be NABCEP certified. Data shows:

  • 60% of employers consider NABCEP’s certifications to be “essential” or “very important” when hiring employees
  • An average salary increase of $11,000 after becoming board certified
  • 26% of NABCEP board-certified professionals go on to start their own businesses

2. Quality control

Customers want to make sure that the company they’re getting solar from is of the highest quality and worth every penny. That’s where having quality control as a skill comes in handy.

Quality control refers to a company’s methods for assessing product quality and making necessary improvements. In a nutshell, quality control is being able to ensure the products you’re selling are as uniform as possible, along with being able to point out any errors or inconsistencies.

Working with complex solar technology is no joke, so pinpointing imperfections when installing, manufacturing, or researching is crucial to success. Even a tiny mistake or slip-up can drastically impact a solar system’s lifetime production.

Understanding what to look for and correctly performing necessary tests, surveys, and inspections will make you a better and safer worker.

Solar can be physically demanding. If you’re looking to join the solar industry, it’s important to remember you might need to meet physical requirements, depending on the position. Installers need to be able to carry heavy equipment at heights, and sometimes residential sales representatives will need to walk entire neighborhoods for door-knocking efforts. Always check job postings to see what the regular duties entail.

3. Communication and interpersonal skills

Communication can go a long way in the solar industry. Minimizing mistakes and ensuring quality service starts with good communication, whether between you and a customer or another member of your team.

When it comes to the installation process, solar installation technicians travel from home to home, and some companies even have multiple crews going out to different job sites. Good communication between teams and supervisors is crucial to a smooth work day. You never want to be the one causing a hang-up!

Good communication between companies and customers is also a huge factor in success. Being completely transparent and responsive to a customer shows good business practice and can make you a more reliable source. Honesty with your customers can boost your chances of being referred to others, which is excellent for the company. Driving in more business reflects well on you, too! 

4. Understanding the industry

When you’re working in an industry that’s constantly changing and evolving, identifying trends and keeping up with the latest news is a valuable skill. You can learn some of the broad strokes of the industry through the courses and certification programs mentioned earlier, but taking it one step further can really set you apart.

Requirements for solar installations vary between towns, so understanding what’s going on in your area shows that you have a grasp on the local industry and the drive to learn. Not only can this help you get hired, but it can also help you do the actual job better.

Unfortunately, uninformed solar salespeople have given the industry a bad reputation by luring customers with outlandish savings promises. However, when you have a deep understanding of the industry, you’ll be able to give customers detailed, honest information.

5. Self-motivation

Being a self-starter is one of the key things you need to work in solar. Taking courses to gain solar certifications and knowledge before getting hired showcases this skill.

But it’s not just about what you do before you get hired. It’s also about what you do after you get the job. Taking the initiative to make an extra sales call, to send another follow-up email, and keep up with appointments make you a tremendous asset to a company.

This is also true on the installation side! As an installer, you’ll be out on job sites often, and you don’t want to be the one the boss is worrying about. The drive to be on time, efficient, and careful is invaluable to an installation company.

When you invest time and effort into the solar industry – it invests in you back. According to our Solar Industry Survey, 74% of installers reported covering the costs of Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) for their employees. Having well-educated and certified employees is a crucial part of a company’s crew.

Final thoughts

Solar is a great option for anyone looking to start or change their career, as the industry pays well and cares for its workers. In fact, according to the 2021 Solar Jobs Census, entry-level positions in solar installation pay an average of $22.92 per hour.

You have the potential to make even more with additional experience and certifications. Taking the time to gain some skills and knowledge about the industry will set you up for success. SEI training courses and NABCEP’s certification programs are a great starting point that will not only help you get your foot in the door but could also get you a higher starting salary.

Solar is a growing industry, and the need for workers is at an all-time high. With a few of these skills, you can start your solar journey in no time!

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 - Author of Solar Reviews

Jamie Smith

Content Writer

Jamie is a Content Writer and researcher at SolarReviews. A recent graduate of La Salle University in Philadelphia, Jamie earned her B.S. in communications with a concentration in journalism, mass media, and public relations.

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