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How To: Get a Job in the Solar Sector
MAY 24, 2021
The solar industry is booming. In fact, March 2021 saw the highest number of monthly installations since the closure of the old Feed-In-Tariff. Solar panel installers are in high demand and it’s a career path that promises plenty of opportunities for the future. If you could see yourself working as a solar panel installer, read on to find out more about what the job involves and how you could get into the industry.
What is a Solar Panel Installer?
The solar sector is a big (and growing) industry with lots of interlinking parts. There are many roles through which you can get involved – manufacturing, system design, project management, sales, installation and operations. But we’re going to focus on the installers themselves.
A solar panel installer is a professional who fits solar panels – also called photovoltaic (PV) panels – onto rooftops or as part of a standalone system. This involves physically assembling the panels and connecting them to a property’s power system, so that the generated electricity can be delivered to the necessary appliances.
Solar panel installers are often also responsible for solar panel monitoring and maintenance. That means checking in with existing systems, making sure they are generating the predicted amount of electricity and dealing with any faults that might crop up.
What Experience Do I Need?
Most solar panel installers have a background in electrics. You don’t have to be a fully qualified electrician but having a certification like NICEIC or NVQ Level 3 can really help. If you don’t have an electrical license, when installing solar panels you must be working under someone who does have one.
You can also follow training courses specially tailored to renewable energy technologies at BPEC.org. These qualifications can be useful when applying for solar jobs.
Other career backgrounds that are well suited to transfer into the solar industry include:
- Building trades (roofing, carpentry, plumbing)
- Business (logistics, management, procurement, warehouse operations, customer service, IT, HR)
- Project and team management
What Qualifications Do I Need?
All solar panel installers in the UK must be accredited with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). This is an independent, industry-led, certification scheme for both installers and products relating to low-carbon energy generation.
All MCS installers also have to adhere to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC) – this protects customers against misleading sales techniques.
What Skills Do I Need?
Aside from a general understanding of solar technology and how to integrate it with electrical systems, you need to be able to physically lift and carry solar panels. They aren’t very heavy (around 15-20kg each), but can sometimes be awkward to manoeuvre.
It’s also handy if you have a head for heights but there’s no official qualification for that!
A lot of solar installation companies will offer on-the-job training so you can improve your skills and knowledge as you go.
Top Tips for Becoming a Solar Panel Installer
1) Know your stuff! Before applying to solar installer jobs, make sure you know what solar energy is and how it works. You might already have transferable skills and qualifications, but there are some specific terms and processes that you should understand to make sure you stand out in job applications. You don’t need to be an expert, just have a look at the basics. Our website is a great place to start – check out our solar FAQs or our blog on common solar energy myths.
2) Network. Connecting with other people in the solar industry will help you find out about job opportunities. Perhaps you could attend an online webinar or join some relevant Facebook groups?
3) Think about your skills and experience. Being an installer isn’t the only route into the solar industry. If you’re keen to work in the sector, but aren’t sure whether you are qualified enough, there are other roles you could consider. Maybe you’re really great at sales, or managing a team. There’s plenty of ways you could contribute to a solar project without putting the panels on the roof.
To anyone looking to work in the solar sector, we hope this blog has been helpful and good luck with your job searching!