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How long does it take to become a Solar Contractor | Education and Training

Solar power or solar energy has become an effective form of renewable energy. Many people are now switching to solar panels to power their houses and businesses instead of using conventional electricity. A major reason for the sudden demand and rise of solar power is its cost-effectiveness. But, in addition to the financial benefits, there are many other pertinent reasons for this rise including, eco-friendly systems, less energy loss, etc.


With a sudden rise in demand for solar power and solar panels, there is also a rapid growth in solar occupations, and it will continue to grow, as by 2050 renewable energy sources are expected to provide 38% of generated electricity [1].


There are many different jobs in the solar industry such as manufacturing and installation. Now, if you are interested in this industry and are wondering how long it takes to become a solar electric contractor then you are in the right place. We have compiled all the information that you will need to get into the solar industry as a solar contractor.

How Does Solar Energy Work in Orlando?

 

To become a solar contractor, the first thing you need to know is how solar energy works. Solar technology converts sunlight into energy by photovoltaic or PV panels. This energy is stored and then later used to generate electricity.

 

It can also be kept in thermal storage or batteries. Each PV panel contains a layer of silicon cells, a glass casing surrounded by special film, a metal frame, and wiring. To provide maximum results, the panels are grouped and called arrays.

These arrays are then installed on a rooftop or any large outdoor space. The PV panels or arrays contain photovoltaic cells which capture or absorb the sunlight to be used as energy. This energy is later added to circulating electricity which is generated by your local electricity provider, depending on whether your system is off-grid or on-grid. You will see its results in the form of a significantly lower electricity bill.

 

You can power your entire home using this energy and store the excess in an on-site battery. Moreover, although off-grid power systems are pretty complex to install, they are very useful in case there is a prolonged power outage.

 

Passive Solar is another use of this energy. It involves the usage of equipment that can absorb and release heat without using any electricity. These are usually used to heat swimming pools but can also be used for cooling and heating homes.

Getting Started in the Solar Industry in Florida

 

Before you delve into how long it takes to become a solar electric contractor, you need to know a few things that are important for getting started in this industry. For instance, if you apply for a sales job in the solar industry, your hiring manager will expect you to know the necessary information regarding solar panels and their features. 

 

Be up to date on your research about clean and solar energy. Read up on the latest trends in the market and technology. Study the policies, business plans, aims, and vision of the companies.

 

There are various roles that you can opt for in the solar industry. These include engineering, investment, business development, marketing, accounting, and more. So, thorough research on different fields and roles will benefit you and help you find the one that interests you. Once you’ve figured out your interest, you can start looking for companies that are a good fit for you.

 

If you are new to the industry and have no experience but have found a job that fits your background, don’t hesitate to apply. A good way to gain some experience is to start with an internship or volunteer work. Both of these opportunities can lead to full-time positions if your company finds you capable and hardworking.

Why Should You Consider a Career in Solar Energy?

 

By now, you must be thinking about doing some research on how long it takes to become a solar electric contractor. But there may be some uncertainty as to why you should get into the solar industry. Here is why you should consider this industry:

solar panels with blue sky for Solar pool heating in Florida

1.      Help Combat Climate Change

As the world is evolving and progressing, climate change is evolving with it, but at a much faster pace. The most important reason for getting into the solar industry is to help combat climate change. The solar industry is the gateway to creating a sustainable environment and future. So, working in the solar industry allows you to play your part in achieving a sustainable future.

Moreover, as mentioned earlier, due to the rapid shift to solar energy, it is expected that 38% of the world’s power will soon be produced by using renewable energy sources. However, the share of electricity generated by solar energy is also expected to triple by 2050, hence, making it the number one source of renewable energy. In the last decade alone, solar energy has grown 49% annually. Today solar energy is generating enough power to run 16 million homes [1].

 

2.      Job Growth

Another reason for considering a career in solar energy is the constantly growing industry. Renewable energy has helped build a new workforce in first-world countries. The solar industry is expanding and as a result, providing a wide range of well-paying jobs for workers from different backgrounds. According to the National Solar Jobs Census of 2018, the US has over two hundred forty-two thousand solar workers [2].

 

In the last decade, the solar workforce and industry have grown 159% and have created one-hundred and fifty thousand jobs. Moreover, in the UK one-hundred and forty-four thousand people are working in the renewable energy sector [3]. In short, there are various solar panel jobs available for you and they will keep on growing.


 

3.      Evolving Industry

Many developed countries and nations have started to show their support for renewable energy. Countless businesses, governments, and homeowners are also actively investing in solar energy systems. Not only this, but PV technology is also evolving. 

 

All of this is increasing the demand for clean energy. Several utility companies are setting their goals for 100% clean energy. So, when you opt for a career in solar energy you are opting to be a part of an industry that is constantly and rapidly evolving. New technology is being introduced every day to make solar energy systems, racking systems, and inverters more affordable and efficient.

 

4.      Good Income

Not many people are aware of the high salaries the solar industry offer. The starting wage in solar energy surpasses that of other industries. As you evolve with the industry and gain more experience, your pay will increase accordingly. The demand for skilled professionals like photovoltaic installers, electricians, solar contractors, sales representatives, and tech support is increasing every day.

Solar Panels powered entire house in Orlando Florida

What Do Solar Technicians Do?

 

Solar technicians are responsible for maintaining, installing, troubleshooting, and testing photovoltaic systems which include fans pumps, solar panels, and other equipment. They are trained to work on private businesses, residential installations, or utility-scale installations. The only condition to becoming a solar technician is that you should be comfortable with working outdoors. Not every solar installation is on a rooftop, however, you must be prepared to work at various heights.

 

Solar technicians set up, piece together, and maintain systems on rooftops that capture sunlight and convert it into energy. They are also responsible for planning PV systems’ configurations to meet the needs of a customer. This configuration usually depends on the amount of energy that is required for heating, cooling, or charging the batteries. It also depends on the hours of sunlight, size, and architecture of the building.

 

Solar technicians will cut, measure, and assemble the structure and base required for the PV panels. They will then install the support structures and solar panels according to the codes and standards of the building. They may also be required to connect solar energy systems to an electrical grid.

 

However, this depends on state regulations and the job, as an electrician can also be hired to do this. Lastly, they have to check the wiring, grounding, and polarity. Solar technicians may also be needed later for the maintenance of solar energy systems.

Solar contractor on roof installing Solar Panels in Orlando

How to Become a Solar Technician in Orlando Florida?

 

A good thing about becoming a solar technician is that you don’t need to be legally licensed to install a solar energy system. But many places do require some specific training so that the installation is done correctly the first time. It is also important to be informed of your State’s regulations and requirements.

 

The solar industry is growing rapidly and so are the training programs for solar technicians. Many programs are specially designed to train veterans and workers that were laid off from other industries. These programs also cater to Native American tribes and provide them renewable energy training. The length of the programs can vary from five weeks to several months.

 

So, if you’re still thinking about how long does it take to become a solar electric contractor, then we’d say not as long as other professions, which also require a college degree.

Solar contractor next to solar panels in Orlando

How to Become a Solar Contractor?

 

There isn’t much difference between a solar contractor and a solar technician. Both of them are the same professions and a contractor or electrician can install solar energy systems on rooftops, utility buildings, businesses, etc.

 

To become a solar contractor, you have to complete all the requirements set by your respective State. This could include a few years of experience in foreman skills, training programs from an accredited college, license exam, and contractor license.

What Education Is Required To Become A Solar Energy Technician?

 

Becoming a solar panel installer is probably not as hard as you think. It sounds like a highly technical career, but in fact, you do not need years of college education to become one. Most solar technicians have a high school diploma and have received certification from a trade school.

 

The solar industry 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 that lasts for an entire year. Some PV installers learn to install panels as part of an apprenticeship [4].

 

Here are their details that will tell you exactly how long does it take to become a solar electric contractor:

  • Solar Energy Technician College Programs

One of the most well-defined ways to becoming a solar technician is through a solar technician program at any accredited college or institute. There are various community colleges and trade schools that offer certification programs.

 

These programs specialize in skills that are required to become a solar energy technician. No matter which program you enroll in, you will learn the basics of electricity, different aspects of solar electricity, and how it works. These programs will also offer hands-on training during the course or as part of the internship.

 

  • Certification

Certification is a great way of gaining customer trust and ensuring them that you provide high-quality services and safety in solar systems installations. Many nationally recognized institutes that have a good name in solar energy offer these certifications.

 

You can qualify by demonstrating proficiency in various skills that are required to be a solar technician. Often these certificates are also offered as a part of accredited programs. But you can also earn them separately if needed. NABCEP or the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is an organization that offers these certifications.

 

  • Apprenticeship

If you want an alternative to traditional classroom learning, then you can also look for apprenticeships that provide job training. An easy way to do this would be to find an entry-level job or internship at any solar energy company. This way you can learn the skills and training from experienced workers. If you already have previous experience as a roofer and electrician, that will be a bonus here.

Solar Contractor Licensing

 

You don’t need a license to become a solar technician but if you want to become a licensed solar installer, you will have to appear for a State-accepted exam. If you opt for a training program, you’re more likely to get all the relevant information about solar contractor license through it. It will also provide you with all the information about practice exams. However, you might need to research your state requirements regarding this.

 

Moreover, once you become a solar panel technician you will need to continue your training and learning throughout your career. You might also need to get recertified every few years, depending on the requirements of your state and program.

Solar panel in Orlando

How is a Solar Energy Technician Different from a Solar Electrician?

 

Primarily most solar technicians are responsible for installing and maintaining solar energy systems. However, solar electricians are responsible for handling complex wiring, connecting systems to grids or inverters, and maintenance of commercial solar arrays.

 

By becoming a solar technician, you can be on your way to becoming a solar electrician. But, to officially begin the process, you will need an apprenticeship.

How Much Do Solar Panel Installers Make?

 

After receiving a certificate or license for solar installation you can easily earn up to $74,000 per year [5]. However, this is still the high-end of the income range for solar panel installers. Your income will vary according to your location or State. If you live in a state with higher demands, you will automatically earn more.

 

The national average salary of a solar panel installer is $54,000 per year and the minimum salary is $33,000 per year [5].

1.  How long does it take to become a solar electrician?

It’s not that hard to become a solar electrician. Although it does sound like a technical career, you don’t need four years of college education to become one. Generally, solar electricians have a high school diploma and a certification from any trade school.

 

2.  How do I become a solar contractor?

There are different requirements set by States that you will need to complete to become a solar contractor. These requirements include training programs, license exams, several years of experience in foreman skills, and a contractor license.

 

3.  How much does a solar contractor make?

The minimum per year salary of a solar contractor is $33,000 and the national average salary is $54,000 per year.
 

4.  How much does a solar energy technician make a year?

Once you have received your solar installation license or certification, you can earn up to $74,000 a year. But keep in mind this is the high-end of the range of solar installers’ salary and your yearly salary can vary according to your State.

Conclusion

 

If you want to pursue a career in the electrical field and if you like working outdoors, then the role of solar energy technician is ideal for you. But a lot of people might discourage you by asking questions like how long does it take to become a solar electric contractor or how many years of education do you need to become one.

 

However, due to the high demand for solar energy, there’s also a high demand for solar technicians and the government is offering various solar panel technician training programs. These programs range from five weeks to several months. With the help of these programs, you can become a solar electric contractor in a few months only.

References

1.  https://electricalschool.org/solar-energy-technician/

2.  https://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-jobs-census-2018

3.  https://www.current-news.co.uk/news/jobs-in-renewable-energy-continue-to-grow-hitting-11-5m-globally-in-2019

4.  Solar Photovoltaic Installers

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/mobile/solar-photovoltaic-installer

5.  https://www.axionpower.com/knowledge/become-solar-installer/#How_Long_Does_Solar_Energy_Technician_Training_Take