Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up, and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy.
What they do
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 hand tools 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.
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.
How to become a Solar Photovoltaic Installer
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.
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.
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.
The median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers was $44,890 in May 2019. 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 $31,600, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,880.
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.
Similar Job Titles
Installer, Photovoltaic Installer (PV Installer), PV Design and Installation Technician, Solar Designer/Installer, Solar Installer, Solar Installer Technician, Solar Photovoltaic Installer (Solar PV Installer), Solar Technician
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
Magazines and Publications
- Solar Power World Magazine
- The S.U.N Report (Solar Energy World U.S. News)
We all know that it’s important to take care of the environment around us. Solar photovoltaic installers—or PV installers, as they’re otherwise known—do just that. PV installers are at the forefront of renewable energy solutions as businesses and homeowners strive to consume responsibly. PV installers set up and maintain solar panels. They do specialized work connecting PV, or solar panels, to the power grid, in addition to activating and testing solar-powered systems for quality performance. If you are interested in a career that is technical and labor-intensive, and that also makes a positive impact on the environment, this may be the career for you. Through their work, PV installers provide environmentally-conscious energy that will last for years to come. PV installers need to be very skilled with their hands, have good balance, and pay close attention to detail. They must be able to lift heavy equipment, parts, and tools. PV installers do most of their work outdoors, often on rooftops. This means that PV installers do face the risk of falling from ladders and roofs, and need to take care to avoid electrical shocks and burns from hot equipment. Training to enter the field lasts from a few days to a few months, and is available at community colleges and trade schools. Candidates with electrician or construction experience are often considered qualified to enter this career with only on-the-job training.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org