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What I Need to Know About Entry-Level Solar Energy Jobs

HVAC Technician

The renewable energy industry is booming. More and more consumers and businesses are seeing the benefits of resources like photovoltaic (PV) arrays and wind power. This has led to a drastic uptick of job growth in the solar energy field. The photovoltaic industry in particular has seen handsome gains in job creation thanks to the manual labor requirements of building an array. While it is great to hear about what jobs are in high demand, it is perhaps more important to know which specific skills are required to do a variety of jobs in the solar energy sector.

So, what are the important things to know about various entry level solar jobs? Why is the renewable energy industry job market growing? What are the skill requirements & job responsibilities of positions like solar panel installer, boiler operator, field service technician, solar power plant operator? Knowing more about solar energy jobs will help you decide whether an Energy Technology Program is the right path for your solar energy job success.

Why Is the Renewable Energy Industry Such A Growing Job Market?

Before looking into specific types of entry level positions, it should be noted that solar jobs are growing faster than any other type of job in the world. The industry as a whole employ more people than the oil and natural gas industries combined. This is largely to do with state legislatures that have passed renewable portfolio standards (RPS) which mandate that a certain percentage of all power generated in the state must come from renewable energy resources.

Job #1: Solar Panel Installer

A solar panel installer’s main job duties include gathering all the materials, tools and other supplies necessary to complete installations, both roof-mounted and ground-mounted. They need to have a great deal of hands-on work experience and should feel comfortable working in a variety of environments. The solar panel installer should also be self-motivated and willing to be located at a build site for weeks at a time, as some of the largest arrays in the country can take a large team several months to complete.

Job #2: Boiler Operator

Renewable energy doesn’t just produce electricity. In some cases, the power of the sun is used to also produce hot water. When this is done on a larger scale, these plants can require a boiler operator. The main function of this individual is to ensure that the boiler continues to operate within safe temperature levels and that they intake and dispel the proper amount of hot water at any given time. Boiler operators will need to be expert problem solvers as boilers can be finicky mechanical devices. Additionally, the communication skills of a boiler operator need to be top-notch since decisions must be made and executed at a moment’s notice.

Job #3: Field Service Technician

A field service technician should have a background in electrical contracting, as the majority of the job will focus on troubleshooting electrical issues within the inverters at the solar sites or reconnecting lost communication systems that allow the owner of the photovoltaic array to see the current state of the system. For example, the owner will need to see the amount of power it is putting out or the total generation for the day. Other important skills are problem solving, effective communication (both verbal and written), as well as the ability to closely document what work has occurred on the site so that the client can be properly billed.

Job #4: Power Plant Operator

A power plant operator is in charge of the day to day operations of a photovoltaic array. They are in charge of making sure that all aspects of the array are up and running to their full potential. For example, if particular inverters within the PV array are off or not producing energy up to their full potential, a power plant operator should be able to recognize and diagnose the problem, and dispatch an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) professional to the site so that corrective action can occur. The power plant operator may also be in charge of limiting power flow during particular peak generation times. In some utilities, power plant operators will be asked to purposely dial back generation to ensure that certain power lines are not stressed on the local grid.

Does a career as a solar panel installer, boiler operator, field service technician, or power plant operator interest you? Want to have the power of an entire nation at your fingertips? The Energy Technology Programs from MIAT College of Technology provide the training, practical experience and industry support it takes to pursue a rewarding technical career. Classes are interactive and led by industry professionals with years of experience working in the field. You will receive personalized, hands-on instruction in whichever energy program you pursue.

To learn more about Energy Technology career training and explore if MIAT is right for you, fill out the form on this page. Contact us if you are interested in becoming an energy technician today.

MIAT College of Technology is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).

Canton:
Associate’s Degree in Energy Technology
Certificate in Energy and Industrial Technology

Houston:
Associate’s Degree in Energy Technology
Certificate in Energy and Industrial Technology

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