Is the job situation within solar energy all sunshine and lollipops, or will grey clouds rain on the industry?
It’s unlikely, as the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the number of solar installers will increase by 52% by 2030, which is much faster than the national average growth. So, it looks like it’s a promising profession to consider.
Put simply, the global push to transition away from fossil fuels and implement renewable energy is creating a huge opportunity for the next generation of professionals and the list of new professions is growing rapidly. These positions are filled with competitive wages, the option of personal development and a chance to change careers.
As you perform your job search, are you unsure what positions you should be looking for and which renewable energy jobs are in demand? We’ve compiled a list of the ten highest-paying solar jobs for you to consider!
15. Site assessor
Average annual salary: $40,000
While it’s not one of the highest-paying jobs in the world, every solar energy project must undergo a site assessment. This is necessary to determine if enough energy can be generated or if the location is sufficient for the long-term goals of the project manager. Enter the site assessor.
This job examines various aspects, with the site assessor evaluating all the intricate elements of ground zero, including:
- optimal location
- energy usage
- mounting options
- estimated systems cost
- financial incentives
- return on investment (ROI)
Site assessors are integral to the success of every solar-related project. You can compare the employment opportunity’s importance to that of a building inspector you hire before buying a property.
14. Solar power plant constructer
Average annual salary: $41,940
Have you noticed the construction of various solar power plants in your part of the world? Have you also noticed the number of crew members putting up the building? These are solar power plant constructors.
Indeed, solar power plant constructers (or construction workers) perform a diverse array of tasks, such as metalworking, concrete pouring, demolition end erecting scaffolding. Essentially, any duty that would be performed on a regular construction site, whether it is a commercial building or a bridge, you will see comparable tasks at a solar power plant.
Due to the expanding need for solar energy, there are bound to be numerous positions available in this field, which could be a great stepping-stone into other high-paying solar energy jobs in the future if you have no experience right now.
13. Solar thermal installer
Average annual salary: $46,000
We wouldn’t have solar energy if there weren’t people to install the systems, right? This is where solar thermal installers come in.
Solar thermal installers usually work for a contractor that deals with renewable energy. Their main role is to install solar thermal water heating systems into homes and businesses. Solar installers need a diploma in electrical installation plus a two-year apprenticeship in the same profession. This is followed by a two-year internship with a solar panel contractor.
The job responsibilities of a solar installer vary from installing solar systems to interpreting technical drawings. It is also important to know and be aware of local building codes and regulations.
12. Solar photovoltaic installer
Average annual salary: $47,670
Do you like to work with your hands and under the sun? Do you also prefer the benefits of being self-employed? Well, solar photovoltaic installers are integral to the entire process of panel installation and maintenance.
It is a highly skilled position that is heavy on the responsibility since the job requires safely attaching panels to rooftops and troubleshooting faulty panels, whether it’s damaged systems or malfunctioning components. The best thing is that contractors and self-employed folks usually complete this job, meaning they have more control of their working hours and can improve their work-life balance.
11. Sales representative
Average annual salary: $53,804
You shouldn’t let the job title fool you. A solar energy sales representative is a highly technical and complex employment opportunity that pays quite well. Don’t think so? Here are just some of the position’s daily tasks:
- Sell products, systems and services
- Assess site conditions to determine relevant equipment
- Use solar equipment to showcase functions to customers
- Interact with customers, vendors, installers and plants to discuss solar goods and services
- Create personalized energy management packages
So, no, you are not folding clothes, telling customers to turn off a computer or selling perfume. This is indeed complicated work that requires smart individuals. You’re smart, aren’t you? We think you are! If you’ve worked sales jobs before, this might be a job for you, since this career offers competitive wages and commissions. Even with no experience, you could have the charm needed for an entry-level position in this role.
10. Solar installation foreman
Average annual salary: $60,000
Do you have great leadership skills? This might be the role for you!
A solar installation foreman is usually in charge of a team that installs solar panels. The solar installation foreman usually works at the site and has many duties, including observing the crew install panels, enforcing health and safety rules, reviewing all the construction plans ahead of time, and ensuring that the work is done on time.
Solar instalment foremen must have at least five to seven years of experience in the solar industry, preferably installing solar panels and experience in quality control. In addition, the foreman must have good communication skills as they are often responsible for dealing with clients and the solar installation team.
9. Solar energy system designer
Average annual salary: $67,000
With the chief objective behind solar energy being to foster an environment of green-friendly projects, the role of a solar system designer is to do exactly this. The position essentially consists of manufacturing solar thermal systems and coming up with large photovoltaic apparatuses, from the specifications to integration.
The job would also require you to offer technical direction to field teams throughout the entire process, whether it is installation or testing. In addition, you’d need to be comfortable completing commercial and industrial analysis of the solar energy systems.
8. Solar energy technician
Average annual salary: $72,000
Air conditioners, plumbing, high-speed modems and dishwashers — all these require the attention and skills of technicians. So, why not shift your existing skills and focus on solar energy technology?
A solar energy technician is in charge of installing, repairing, maintaining and performing service calls for everything from solar panels to solar energy power plants. Because the industry is only just advancing, and there are not enough bodies to fill positions, the job pays more than your average technician job, so it’s definitely worth looking into if you’re technical-minded.
7. Solar power engineer
Average annual salary: $72,323
Before you know it, solar power engineering earthlings will help construct a Dyson sphere, a space megastructure that encompasses the sun and generates most of its power output by consuming the star. A work of science fiction? Perhaps.
Until then, if you’re looking for a job in engineering, a solar engineer is one to consider. They’re responsible for producing technology, machines and infrastructure to utilize sunlight to generate electricity. These professionals work in every industrial phase: manufacturing, construction, installation and maintenance. You will find them in an office, in a lab or on a job site collaborating with other engineers to solve common problems.
6. Solar energy software developer
Average annual salary: $72,976
Software is crucial for the development, maintenance and future of solar energy. Every piece of equipment, every energy installation and every solar project requires efficient software.
Unlike its predecessors, solar energy is reliant on both hardware and software. So, even if you’re not someone who is good with their hands and don’t enjoy basking in the sun’s heat, you can still be an important player in the industry with your coding skills.
5. Scientific researcher
Average annual salary: $77,173
The solar energy industry is not stagnant. It keeps discovering, adapting, researching and developing. It can achieve this with scientific minds employed by private companies and non-profit organizations.
Scientific researchers are instrumental in not only advancing the technology but also helping to reduce solar materials’ high prices — this explains why solar power has been coming down in price. In the lab or the field, scientific researchers are everywhere to boost the efficiency and rein in the cost of solar.
4. Solar energy specialist
Average annual salary: $78,000
Solar energy specialists, also known as photovoltaic specialists, educate customers about renewable energy. Other duties include evaluating businesses and homes for solar panels, explaining the solar energy rebates, and how the solar panels are installed. They may also conduct seminars and market solar products at events or set up displays at conferences.
Their role is to essentially communicate business strategies, conduct public presentations and peruse studies on solar energy technology to improve sales.
Solar energy specialists need a high school diploma and several years of customer service experience. A thorough understanding of the solar industry and the ability to communicate are a must. Travel is part of the job requirements.
3. Solar power plant operator
Average annual salary: $83,173
A power plant operator is integral to the success of solar power generation. Why? This position requires you to run the equipment necessary to maintain output.
Your typical day can be spent running, monitoring and repairing boilers, pumps, turbines, controls and gauges. And you should not fear getting your hands dirty since you’re responsible for cleaning and lubricating the tech to prevent malfunctions or excessive wear and tear.
While you will man the solar power plant, you will not be running solo. Instead, there will be a team of experts by your side. So, you should not feel intimidated and think you’re going to be Homer Simpson in Sector 7G.
2. Solar project developer
Average annual salary: $84,130
Can you name anything sexier than building permits, property tax agreements and interconnection rights? Well, you’re in luck, because we have a job for you.
A solar project developer’s primary role in the pre-construction phase is to secure these aspects, in addition to working closely with commercial teams that are comprised of engineers, accountants and lawyers. You need to possess immense knowledge on emerging solar technologies, local laws and policy developments of the project manager.
You can consider yourself Miles O’Brien from Star Trek.
1. Solar consultant
Average annual salary: $96,000
And finally, one of the highest-paying solar jobs is *drumroll* a solar consultant. The consultant is a vital person in the solar industry and must have solid knowledge about renewable technology with a focus on generating electricity with the use of solar panels.
In addition, the solar consultant has to work with contractors, consultants, and engineers to ensure that projects are practical, realistic, and workable. They also help with project management and implement novel assets to boost solar efficiency.
For this role, you’ll need a bachelor's degree in engineering — a degree in business is a bonus. At least one to three years of work experience is desirable, preferably in the solar industry. You must have solid experience managing projects and have good analytical skills. Since solar consultants often interact with customers, they also need excellent communication skills.
Whether you want to be under the sun installing solar panels or you wish to sit behind a desk contributing to the development of renewable energy, there are plenty of environmentally friendly jobs to think about.
Because the industry is still growing, there’s an immense demand for bodies to fill empty positions. This is a good chance to get on the second or third floor before the solar elevator climbs to the very top. It may be time to put some sunshine into your résumé with a good old-fashioned career change.
If you’re unsure if a career in solar energy is right for you, it’s worth taking a career assessment, like the one at CareerHunter. It’ll analyze your skillset, interests and personality to provide you with a detailed report, including job suggestions and course recommendations. If it turns out you’re a good match, then you’re good to go, just update your résumé and get applying!
Are you considering a career in solar energy? What roles are you interested in pursuing? Let us know in the comments!
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 28 February 2020.