Is the job situation within solar energy all sunshine and lollipops, or will grey clouds rain on the industry?
In July 2019, the Environmental and Energy Study Institute published a study that examines renewable energy jobs in the US and the rest of the world. Researchers found that solar energy jobs directly employed nearly 335,000 jobs in manufacturing, installation, distribution and support services. This is down 3.2% from 2017. Around the world, the industry maintains a workforce of around 11 million people, which is 700,000 more than the previous year.
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. 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 ones are in demand? We’ve compiled a breakdown of the 10 highest-paying solar energy jobs.
10. Site assessor
Average salary: $40,000
At the beginning of every solar energy project, a site assessment 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:
- 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 home inspector you hire before buying a property.
9. Solar power plant constructer
Average 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? Are you interested in a similar job?
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.
8. Solar photovoltaic installer
Average salary: $42,680
Do you like to work with your hands and under the sun? Do you also prefer to be 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 (damaged systems or malfunctioning components). The best thing is that contractors and self-employed folks usually complete this job. It offers the best of both worlds for anyone great with tools, who loves being outdoors and enjoys autonomy.
7. Sales representative
Average 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 personalised 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! And you will be handsomely compensated since this job offers competitive wages.
6. Solar energy technician
Average salary: $72,000
Air conditioners, plumbing, high-speed modems and dishwasher – all these require the attention and skills of technicians. So, why not your solar energy technology knowledge and apparatuses?
Indeed, 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 advancing, and there are not enough bodies to fill positions, the job pays more than your average technician job.
5. Solar power engineer
Average 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, solar engineers at home will need to produce technology, machines and infrastructure to utilise sunlight to produce 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.
4. Solar energy software developer
Average 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 the efficacy of 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 basking in the sun’s heat, you can still be an important player in the industry with your coding skills.
3. Scientific researcher
Average 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 organisations.
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 efficacy and rein in the cost of solar.
2. Solar power plant operator
Average 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 to get 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.
1. Solar project developer
Average 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.
Whether you want to be under the sun installing solar panels or you wish to sit behind a desk contributing to the development of solar energy, there are plenty of 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 on your CV with a good old-fashioned career change.
What other high-paying solar energy jobs do you think should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 17 January 2015.