Solar energy system installers install systems in homes and buildings that regulate temperature by creating either heat or cool air. They also install systems that provide hot water and heat swimming pools. They mount solar panels or pre-assembled systems in residential and commercial complexes. They install storage tanks, pumps, valves, pipes, and ducts. They often perform routine maintenance on these systems. They set up and adjust electrical or electronic controls. When working on new construction projects, they follow blueprints to connect piping, ducting, controls, and wiring. They typically work outside and some of the work involves danger from electrical shock or falling objects. However, when safety guidelines are followed, the risk is minimal. Tools are usually provided by their employers, and many installers belong to the plumbers and pipefitters, electrical, or sheet metal workers’ unions.
Solar energy system installers need to be in good physical condition. They need to be able to lift heavy tools and other equipment. They must be confident in their ability to work on rooftops and in cramped quarters. They should enjoy working outdoors. They should have good oral and written communication skills, because they are required to follow detailed instructions and interact pleasantly with customers.
Earnings of solar energy system installers vary depending on employer and location. Entry level workers usually earn between $5 and $13 per hour; experienced workers earn between $7 and $30 per hour; and those who are experienced and have worked for the same firm for more than 3 years may earn even more. They typically work 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday. Many employers offer benefits such as vacation, sick leave, and insurance.
Training and Education
Most employers hire workers with little or no training or experience and provide on-the-job training. Most require their employees to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. New employees start as assistants to installers who have more experience. Some manufacturers sponsor trainings on their specific products. High school students interested in this occupation should take courses in electricity and wood working.
Summer jobs as construction helpers for plumbers, electricians, roofers, or swimming pool/spa contractors can give applicants an edge when it comes to hiring. Some areas have apprenticeship programs in sheet metal worker/energy management technician training. Workers can advance from apprentice to journey level, crew leader, and supervisor positions. Some workers become State-licensed solar energy contractors and may start their own businesses. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
As new and more practical methods for using solar energy emerge, the occupation of solar energy system installer should grow at an average rate. Solar energy is becoming viewed as a viable alternative to non-renewable fossil fuels, and it can enable homeowners to save considerable amounts of money. The number of residential systems being installed is growing at a healthy rate. Those who have skills in both thermal heating systems and solar thermal installations should have the best job prospects.