Career Facts

Investigate MORE INFO on all professions that sound interesting. Take your time. Don't skip a step.

Job Outlook: 63% (Much faster than average)

  1. Is WHAT YOU DO enjoyable?
  2. Does the WORK ENVIRONMENT feel comfortable?
  3. Are you ok with THE REQUIREMENTS?
  4. Is the PAY ENOUGH?
  5. Is the JOB OUTLOOK positive- more than 7%?
  6. Still interested? WATCH THE VIDEO
  7. RELATED OCCUPATIONS Click here to view similar jobs.
FIND A JOB and more.

What Solar Photovoltaic Installers Do About this section

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 About this section

solar photovoltaic installers image
Some photovoltaic installers place thin solar film on rooftops.

Solar photovoltaic installers held about 12,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of solar photovoltaic installers were as follows:

Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 35%
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 33
Self-employed workers 6
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.

How to Become a Solar Photovoltaic Installer About this section

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.

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.

Pay About this section

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Construction trades workers

$47,480

Solar photovoltaic installers

$46,470

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers was $46,470 in May 2020. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,590, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,600.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for solar photovoltaic installers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors $47,530
Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors 47,490
Utilities 46,940

Job Outlook About this section

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Solar photovoltaic installers

51%

Total, all occupations

4%

Construction trades workers

3%

 

Employment of solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, often called PV installers, is projected to grow 51 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.

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.

Job Prospects

About 2,300 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.

Despite fast growth, this occupation is small and has limited employment; therefore, strong competition for jobs is expected. Job candidates who complete a course in photovoltaic systems at a community college or technical school should have the best opportunities. Those who enter apprenticeships also are expected to have very good job opportunities. Candidates with experience in construction occupations, such as laborers, roofers, and carpenters, should have better job opportunities than those without construction experience.

Employment projections data for solar photovoltaic installers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Solar photovoltaic installers

47-2231 12,000 18,100 51 6,100 Get data

Contacts for More Information About this section

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

O*NET

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Video