Solar Photovoltaic Installer

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Job Outlook:
Much faster than average
Education: High school diploma or equivalent
Salary
High: $63,330.00
Average: $47,970.00
Hourly
Average: $23.06

What they do:

Assemble, install, or maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on roofs or other structures in compliance with site assessment and schematics. May include measuring, cutting, assembling, and bolting structural framing and solar modules. May perform minor electrical work such as current checks.

On the job, you would:

  • Install photovoltaic (PV) systems in accordance with codes and standards, using drawings, schematics, and instructions.
  • Assemble solar modules, panels, or support structures, as specified.
  • Apply weather sealing to array, building, or support mechanisms.

Important Qualities

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.

Personality

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

85% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
84% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
82% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
80% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
73% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
71% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Strengths

95% Realistic  -  Work involves designing, building, or repairing of equipment, materials, or structures, engaging in physical activity, or working outdoors. Realistic occupations are often associated with engineering, mechanics and electronics, construction, woodworking, transportation, machine operation, agriculture, animal services, physical or manual labor, athletics, or protective services.

Aptitude

A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

69% Problem Sensitivity  -  The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
66% Visualization  -  The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.

Job Details

Responsibilities
Install solar energy systems.
Install solar energy systems.
Install solar energy systems.
Maintain mechanical equipment.
Test green technology installations to verify performance.
Apply sealants or other protective coatings.
Inspect electrical or electronic systems for defects.
Determine appropriate locations for operations or installations.
Select construction materials.
Determine construction project layouts.
Determine construction project layouts.
Create construction or installation diagrams.
Review blueprints or specifications to determine work requirements.
Install solar energy systems.
Install solar energy systems.
Determine appropriate locations for operations or installations.
Determine construction project layouts.
Install electrical components, equipment, or systems.
Apply identification labels or tags.
Test green technology installations to verify performance.
Install solar energy systems.
Determine construction project layouts.
Test electrical equipment or systems to ensure proper functioning.
Test green technology installations to verify performance.
Inspect electrical or electronic systems for defects.
Record operational or environmental data.
Test green technology installations to verify performance.
Select construction materials.
Select construction equipment.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

82% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
82% Outdoors, Exposed to Weather  -  How often does this job require working outdoors, exposed to all weather conditions?
81% Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls  -  How much does this job require using your hands to handle, control, or feel objects, tools or controls?
81% Exposed to High Places  -  How often does this job require exposure to high places?
78% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
77% Spend Time Standing  -  How much does this job require standing?
76% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
76% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
74% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
74% Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets  -  How much does this job require wearing common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets?
74% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
72% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
72% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
69% Spend Time Walking and Running  -  How much does this job require walking and running?
68% Physical Proximity  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to perform job tasks in close physical proximity to other people?
67% Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings  -  How often does this job require exposure to minor burns, cuts, bites, or stings?
67% Consequence of Error  -  How serious would the result usually be if the worker made a mistake that was not readily correctable?
65% Very Hot or Cold Temperatures  -  How often does this job require working in very hot (above 90 F degrees) or very cold (below 32 F degrees) temperatures?
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

87% Handling and Moving Objects  -  Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
84% Performing General Physical Activities  -  Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
81% Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials  -  Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
80% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
78% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
78% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
78% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
70% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
67% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
66% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
65% Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards  -  Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
65% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
65% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

What Solar Photovoltaic Installers Do

solar photovoltaic installers image
Solar photovoltaic installers usually work as part of a team.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.

Duties

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.

Work Environment

Solar photovoltaic installers held about 29,400 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of solar photovoltaic installers were as follows:

Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 37%
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 10
Self-employed workers 5
Power and communication line and related structures construction 5
Utilities 5

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 roofers and electricians.

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.

Getting Started

Education:
56%
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED)
16%
Associate's Degree (or other 2-year degree)

How to Become a Solar Photovoltaic Installer

solar photovoltaic installers image
Most photovoltaic installers learn on the job working with experienced installers.

There are multiple paths to becoming a solar photovoltaic (PV) installer, or PV installer. These workers typically need a high school diploma, but some take courses at a technical school or community college; they also receive on-the-job training lasting up to 1 year. Some PV installers learn to install panels as part of an apprenticeship.

Education

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.

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 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.

Advancement

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.

Job Outlook

Employment of solar photovoltaic installers is projected to grow 22 percent from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations.

About 3,500 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.

Employment

The continued expansion and adoption of solar PV systems is expected to create jobs for their installation and upkeep. As the cost of PV panels and shingles continues to decrease, more households are expected to take advantage of these systems, resulting in greater demand for the workers who install and maintain them. The increasing popularity of solar leasing plans—in which homeowners lease, rather than purchase, systems—should create additional demand, because homeowners no longer bear the upfront costs of installation.

Demand may be greatest in states and localities that provide incentives to reduce the cost of PV systems.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about accredited training programs, visit

American Solar Workforce

Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA)

Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc.

North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

NCCER

For details about apprenticeships or other training opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, technical colleges, the state apprenticeship agency, local photovoltaic contractors, firms that employ PV installers, or local union–management apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about apprenticeships for solar photovoltaic installers, visit

IBEW–NECA Electrical Training Alliance

For career and industry resources, visit

The Solar Foundation

CareerOneStop

For a career video on PV installers, visit

Solar photovoltaic installers

Related Career Outlook Subjects

Construction

Green Jobs

Outdoors

Technology

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Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.