Solar Photovoltaic Installer
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Salary Range: $40,000 to $59,999
Average Hourly: $ 22.34
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Number of Jobs: 11800
Jobs Added to 2029: 6100
Growth: Much faster than average
Go here to see salary and job data specific to the United Kingdom.
What Solar Photovoltaic Installers Do
PV installers typically do the following:
- Plan PV system configurations based on customer needs and site conditions
- Measure, cut, and assemble the support structure for solar PV panels
- Install solar modules, panels, and support structures according to building codes and standards
- Connect PV panels to the electrical system
- Apply weather sealant to equipment being installed
- Activate and test PV systems
- Perform routine PV system maintenance
At the jobsite, PV installers verify the measurements and design of the structure on which the PV system is being set up. For PV systems on flat roofs, PV installers must first add a structure that allows the PV system to be mounted at an angle. PV installers set up new systems on support structures and place PV panels or PV shingles on top of them. Once the panels are in place, they sometimes connect the panels to electrical components. After the system is in place, PV installers must test the system and its components.
PV installers use a variety of handtools and power tools, including drills, wrenches, saws, and screwdrivers, to set up PV panels and connect them to frames, wires, and support structures.
Depending on the job and state laws, PV installers may connect the solar panels to the electrical grid, although electricians sometimes do this task. Once the panels are set up, workers check the electrical systems for proper wiring, polarity, and grounding, and they also perform maintenance as needed.
Most solar panel installations are done outdoors, but PV installers sometimes work in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the electrical grid. Installers also must travel to jobsites.
Work Environment Details
|Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors||42%|
|Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors||29|
Because photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity, most PV installation is done outdoors. Residential installers work on rooftops but also sometimes work in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the electrical grid. PV installers who build solar farms work at ground level.
PV installers may work alone or as part of a team. Installation of solar panels may require the help of and .
Injuries and Illnesses
Solar photovoltaic installers risk falls from ladders and roofs, shocks from electricity, and burns from hot equipment and materials while installing and maintaining PV systems. To reduce the risk of injury, PV installers must wear safety equipment, such as harnesses, gloves, and hard hats.
Employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow 52 percent from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 2,300 openings for solar photovoltaic installers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
How to Become a Solar Photovoltaic Installer
PV installers typically need a high school diploma. Some PV installers take courses at local community colleges or technical schools to learn about solar panel installation. Courses range from basic safety and PV knowledge to system design. Although course length varies, most usually last a few days to several months.
Some candidates, especially those with construction experience, enter the field by taking online training courses.
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 training, PV installers learn about safety, tools, and PV system installation techniques.
Electrician and roofing apprentices and journey workers may complete photovoltaic-specific training modules through apprenticeships.
Solar PV system manufacturers may also provide training on specific products. Such training usually includes a system overview and proper installation techniques for the manufacturer’s products.
Military veterans may benefit from the Solar Ready Vets program, which is funded by the U.S Department of Energy and prepares veterans to connect with training and jobs in the solar industry.
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.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states require a license for PV installers. Contact your state’s licensing board for more information.
PV installers must travel to jobsites, so employers may require them to have a driver’s license.
Although not required for employment, certification demonstrates competency in solar panel installation. The Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA) and the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners offer certification for PV installers. Some states require that for projects to qualify for solar-related subsidies, all PV installers working on the projects must have certification.
PV installers may advance to become a project supervisor or project manager after gaining experience in the trade. PV installers may also transition to sales roles within the industry, given their knowledge of and experience with PV installation. They also may choose to start their own PV installation business.
Ability to work at heights. PV installers often must work on roofs, ladders, or lifts that are far above the ground.
Communication skills. PV installers need to convey information effectively to clients, team members, and other workers.
Detail oriented. PV installers must carefully follow instructions to ensure that the system works properly.
Math skills. PV installers use algebra, geometry, and trigonometry to calculate angles, measurements, and areas.
Mechanical skills. PV installers work with complex electrical and mechanical equipment in order to build support structures for solar panels, connect the panels to the electrical system, and troubleshoot problems.
Physical stamina. PV installers are often on their feet carrying panels and other heavy equipment. Especially when installing rooftop panels, workers may need to climb ladders many times throughout the day.
Physical strength. PV installers must lift heavy equipment and materials weighing up to 60 pounds.