Solar jobs

Solar creates jobs. Lots of them.

Solar employs hundreds of thousands of Americans. Behind every solar array—from the small rooftop system to the larger utility-scale solar farm—lies a team of engineers, electricians, equipment manufacturers, system designers, salespeople, and field installers. As solar grows, so too does solar employment. Solar now employs more than 250,000 Americans in all 50 states. By going solar at your home or business, you’re helping to expand solar employment!

Installers mounting solar panels on a multi-array system

Solar now employs more than 250,000 Americans in all 50 states.

The number of solar jobs in the U.S. has grown rapidly in the past decade. Thanks to falling equipment costs and increased consumer demand, solar deployment and solar jobs have multiplied. Between 2012 and 2017, the solar industry added over 130,000 new jobs across the country—accounting for one in every 100 new jobs nation-wide.

For employees across the energy industry, solar is the best and brightest place to be. As of 2016, solar employs twice as many workers as coal and nearly five times as many as nuclear. And now that solar is the fastest growing source of power in the country, employment is set to rise steadily in the coming years.

What comes to mind when you picture a solar job? Someone on a roof installing solar panels? Perhaps someone on a manufacturing line producing the panels? While installer and manufacturer remain two of the leading solar jobs, the solar industry features more than 40 different career paths. Solar jobs span multiple sectors—from manufacturing to engineering to design to sales to policy—presenting ample opportunities for both skilled and unskilled workers. Military skills translate particularly well to the solar industry.

Solar jobs are here, they’re growing, and they’re diverse. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are already employed by the solar industry. But what about solar jobs in your backyard? For a deeper dive into solar job creation in your community, check out The Solar Foundation’s Solar Job Census 2016. The map displays solar job figures on a state-by-state and county-by-county level. See how many solar jobs are in your local community!

The Solar Foundation has compiled a comprehensive census of the number of solar jobs throughout the country.

Solar job resources

  • 2017 Solar Jobs Census – Produced by The Solar Foundation, the Jobs Census is the preeminent solar jobs tracker. The Jobs Census gets updated on an annual basis (nationally and state-by-state).
  • GRID Alternatives – GRID Alternatives is a national nonprofit organization that uses volunteer labor to install solar systems on low-income houses. Grid trains their volunteers on how to install and wire a solar system. If you’re looking for hands-on experience with the solar installation, GRID is a great organization to volunteer with.
  • NABCEP – The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners is the nation’s leading certification program for solar professionals. They offer six different solar job certifications. Most installation companies seek to have at least one NABCEP-certified employee on staff, so pursuing your own NABCEP certification can help advance your solar career.
  • Solar Energy International – SEI is a leading education program for individuals looking to start (or deepen) their career in solar. They offer multiple online courses and hands-on workshops related to solar installation and system design.
  • Solar Holler – Solar Holler is a West Virginia-based solar installation company that employs re-trained coal miners. Their practice is a leading model for how to maximize solar’s job creation potential in traditional energy economies.
  • Solar Ready Vets – This Department of Energy program (administered by The Solar Foundation) seeks to “connect transitioning military personnel with solar training and employment opportunities.” Through the program, solar training initiatives were established at 10 military bases across the country.

Our work

Solar United Neighbors helps real people go solar by organizing local solar co-ops. Our solar co-ops are groups of neighbors and community members who come together to go solar on their homes and businesses with the technical support of Solar United Neighbors. To date, our solar co-ops have taken more than 2,500 individuals solar. Along with the resulting electric bill savings, local wealth creation, and public health benefits, these 2,500 installations have created lots and lots of solar jobs.

Doyle Tenney, DT Solar

I believe [Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia] plays a vital role in the growth of the solar industry in West Virginia. Their success is a success for my business, many other solar businesses, and the thousands of works who are unemployed in the state.
-Doyle Tenney, DT Solar

570 jobs, to be exact! Using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Jobs and Economic Development (JEDI) model, we’re able to quantify the number of jobs created from the solar installations that result from our solar co-ops. So, thanks to the more than 2,500 households and businesses that have gone solar through our solar co-ops, 570 new solar jobs have been created across our 9 states.

These solar jobs aren’t just numbers and statistics. They are community members, real people, and real lives. For example, Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia has had the pleasure of working with Doyle Tenney on multiple solar co-ops. Doyle created DT Solar (his own solar company) after seeing the demand for solar installations caused by our solar co-ops. According to Doyle, “I believe [Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia] plays a vital role in the growth of the solar industry in West Virginia. Their success is a success for my business, many other solar businesses, and the thousands of works who are unemployed in the state.”

Down in Maryland, Solar United Neighbors has worked with local installer Sustainable Energy Systems on several co-ops. We’ve seen their business grow from a few employees to dozens of staff. According to Ryan Nicholson of Sustainable Energy Systems, “the solar co-ops had a tremendous impact on our company. Prior to 2014, we were primarily an installation company that focused on sub-contracting work and very few sales. The co-ops opened us up to large numbers of interested homeowners, which played a large role in growing our sales department, and ultimately our company.”

Pioneering model helps nonprofits go solar in West Virginia

In 2014 in West Virginia we completed the first “Solar Holler” project, a 16 kW solar system on Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church. The model used a crowd ...
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