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What Does a Solar Contractor Do and How to Become One?

Solar panel contractors put solar panels on the roof and other structures so that the equipment can capture as much sunlight as possible. They plan the system while considering the property layout and customer needs.


After setting the panels, they connect these to the power grid. Often, they work alongside electricians to ensure that the connection is safe and correct. Solar panel technicians also perform maintenance tasks.


How to Become a Solar Contractor

Consider a career in the solar power industry if you’re passionate about clean energy. However, you must be ready to undergo intensive training. 


Before you can work for one of the top residential solar contractors in the U.S, you need to learn these concepts first:

  • Photovoltaic systems.
  • Electrical and mechanical systems
  • Troubleshooting common solar issues


Some companies offer training, which is usually focused on the products/services they offer. The training might also include their own set of installation guidelines.

Free Solar Assessments

Education

Solar contractors need to have at least a high school diploma. If you already have a diploma, you may take a community college or technical school course. Solar courses cover basic safety and system design. The course length varies from a few days to months.

 

In Florida, you’re eligible to take the licensure if you have a degree in a relevant field of engineering, building construction, or architecture and 1 year of experience in the category you seek to qualify. 


Training


Some installers of systems learn the trained through apprenticeships. They actively work with more experienced installers for at least 4 years as a skilled worker. The experience should include leading a group of workers.

 

Here are other circumstances that can quality you for a solar licensure exam:

  • If you have worked as a foreman for at least 1 year and have completed 3 years of relevant college-level courses. 
  • 1-year experience as a skilled worker, 1-year experience as a foreman, and 2 years of credits from relevant college-level courses.
  • 2 years of experience as a skilled worker, 1-year experience as a foreman, and 1 year of credits from relevant college-level courses.
  • 4 years of experience as a skilled worker or foreman must have been as a foreman for at least 1 year.

 

The Solar Ready Vets program by the U.S Department of Energy is offered to military veterans who want to work in the solar industry. (1)

Roof full of solar panel

Examination


The Florida Statute requires submission of requirements 30 days before the examination date. The first part of the exam covers the trade (solar panel installation) followed by the business and finance portion. You must pass all aspects of the licensure examination within two years.

 

After passing all parts of the examination, you need to complete the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) application before operating as a contractor. (2)


You’ll be given a license number, which customers can use to verify your legality. 

What Are the Two Types of Solar Contractors?

 

There are two types of solar contractors in Florida: certified solar contractors (CV) and residential solar water or a heating specialty contractor (CW).

 

A CV can install a photovoltaic system, solar water heater, and solar pool heater. But a CW cannot handle a PV installation. If the right contractor does not install a system, the customer is not eligible for applicable rebates, incentives, and credits.


 

How Can You Become One of the Top Solar Contractors?

 

You can start by obtaining a certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). (3)

 

The NABCEP certification is the highest recognition for all solar installation companies in the US. It’s proof that you’ve passed their testing process and met the solar industry standards.

 

Although it’s not required all the time, this credential can help you attract more projects.

 

 

How Much Do Solar Panel Installers Make?


According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of a solar installer in May 2020 was $46,470. The highest earners had more than $64,600, and the lowest earners got less than $32,590.

 

The demand for solar specialists increases as more people switch to renewable energy. Research shows that employment in the solar industry will grow by 105% from 2016 to 2026.