Solar Photovoltaic Installer

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Salary Range: $40,000 to $59,999

Average Hourly: $ 20.52

Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Number of Jobs: 9700

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

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.

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 in accordance with 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

Solar PV panels convert sunlight to electricity, and PV installers put these systems in place. PV installers use a variety of hand and power tools to install PV panels. They often use drills, wrenches, saws, and screwdrivers to connect panels to frames, wires, and support structures.

Many new PV installers 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 panels to the electric grid, although electricians sometimes perform this duty. Once the panels are installed, workers check the electrical systems for proper wiring, polarity, and grounding, and they also perform maintenance as needed.

Work Environment

Most solar panel installations are done outdoors, but PV installers sometimes work in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the electric grid. Installers must also travel to jobsites.

Work Environment Details

Solar photovoltaic installers held about 9,700 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of solar photovoltaic installers were as follows:

Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 39%
Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 33
Self-employed workers 5
Utilities 4

Because photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity, most PV installation is done outdoors. Residential installers work on rooftops and in attics and crawl spaces to connect panels to the electric grid. PV installers who build solar farms work at ground level and need to build structures to hold the PV panel framework.

PV installers may work alone or as part of a team. Installation of solar panels may require the help of electricians, as well as solar photovoltaic installers.

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. Those working on roofs must use required fall protection equipment.

Job Outlook

Employment of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers is projected to grow 63 percent from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations. The continued expansion and adoption of solar panel installations will result in excellent job opportunities for qualified individuals, particularly those who complete photovoltaic training courses at a community college or technical school.

How to Become a Solar Photovoltaic Installer

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

Education

Most employers require PV installers to have a high school diploma. 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 lengths vary 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 option 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 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 a joint effort of the U.S Departments of Defense and Energy to connect veterans with training and jobs in the solar industry.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. PV installers often need to communicate effectively with clients to ensure customer satisfaction and with other workers to ensure that proper safety and installation procedures are followed.

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 in order to build support structures for solar panels and to 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 throughout the day.

Physical strength. PV installers often lift heavy equipment and materials weighing 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 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

Most employers require PV installers to have a driver’s license.

Certification is not a requirement but can demonstrate a PV installer’s competency in solar panel installation. The Electronics Technicians Association, International (ETA); the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners; and Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) Inc., all offer certification for PV installers.

United Kingdom Job Data

Source:

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Solar Photovoltaic Installers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm (visited ).