Within the field of solar energy and solar technicians, there are several different types of jobs to consider. These jobs all have their own benefits and drawbacks. Some require a different background or experience, and some require more travel than others. Additionally, these jobs will have different pay rates and daily duties, so there is a lot to consider.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
When most people think of the solar technician profession, they probably think of the installer. This is the person that you see on a roof who is installing the new solar panels. Many times these technicians will also provide maintenance and repair services as well. Installers usually work as independent contractors, are hired by a construction company, or work for a solar panel manufacturer directly.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers usually specialize in either commercial or residential installations. This is important because the installer is responsible for evaluating the property beforehand and ensuring that the installation will be safe and successful. A familiarity with the way residential or commercial properties are constructed provides the specialized expertise needed for this position. For example, residential installers usually end up installing panels on a pitched roof, so a background knowledge in roofing is very helpful. Commercial installers may work on solar farms that tie directly into the power grid. In this case, a background as an electrician can be valuable.
Any technician who is looking for work as an installer better be ready to travel. A residential installer will usually travel shorter distances, and spend less overall days at the same job site. Commercial installers may find themselves traveling larger distances to their jobs but will be on those sites for a longer duration.
Depending on the climate you live in, this work also may be very seasonal in nature. If you live in a climate that gets very cold and snowy in the winter, count on most of your work coming in the spring, summer and fall months. This can make an installer’s work schedule very unpredictable from week to week.
Solar Energy Operations
Solar power plants or solar farms will always require teams of solar technicians to assist in the day to day operations of the plant. These technicians are responsible for everything needed to keep the solar panels operational. This means ongoing maintenance, repairs and replacement of panels as needed. They are responsible for correcting any issues seen during the normal operation of the plant. Some solar plants require more workers than others, and some plants can be maintained remotely – only sending a technician out when there is a problem.
One of the advantages of this type of job is the predictable work schedule. It is always a good feeling to know exactly how many hours you will be working and how much you will be getting paid.
If you are planning on working at a solar power plant, be ready for additional requirements and restrictions. Due to security reasons, be ready to pass a criminal background check, and be subject to random drug tests and any time during your employment.
Certification and Training
Because of the complex nature of all of these job types, it is recommended that you obtain a certification specific to solar panel technology prior to pursuing any job as a technician. Find our more at Solar Technician Schools.
These are just a few examples of the many different career paths you can take as a solar energy technician. Depending on your personal preferences and lifestyle, one of these options may be more suited for you.