U.s. Bureau Of Exertions Records

PDF file of Careers in Solar Power by James Hamilton

Bureau of Labor Statistics

James Hamilton is an economist within the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. James is to be had at (202) 691-7877 or hamilton.james@bls.gov.

Sunlight is the maximum plentiful supply of potential electricity on this planet. If harnessed nicely, daylight may want to without difficulty exceed modern-day and destiny power demand. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every hour, enough strength from the SOLAR solar reaches Earth to satisfy the sector’s energy utilization for an entire year. [1] Creating solar energy by way of changing daylight into energy would lower emissions from electricity era and decrease long-time period power charges. As solar electricity turns into extra price-powerful, it has the capacity to make up a larger share of developing U.S. power desires. And as it expands in usage, there could be a growing want for greater employees—production workers to make solar panels, production workers to build electricity flowers, solar photovoltaic installers to put in solar panels, and so on.

This article offers records at the manner of producing sun energy and info various occupations within the sun industry. The first segment details a short history of sun energy in the United SOLAR States, followed by means of a top level view of the way solar strength is generated, which entities use it, and the generation involved in supplying sun electricity.

The second phase offers occupational facts highlighting a short activity description of several noteworthy occupations which can be related to sun power; the credentials had to work inside the career, along with training, education, certification, or licensure; and salary facts. Occupations are listed beneath applicable occupational classes along with production, creation, set up, and so on.

Using the facts from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Occupational Employment Statistics software and the Solar Foundation, this newsletter represents the second one e-book within the Bureau’s green careers series.

Growth of sun electricity inside the United States

Because of a developing hobby in renewable electricity and the increasingly more competitive costs of alternative power sources, sun electricity has received lots of attention during the last several years. However, sun electricity technology itself is not new; it has been used for greater than half of a century, totally on a small scale or for specialised functions, which include producing electricity for spacecraft and satellites or to be used in remote areas. Large scale solar technology turned into broadly speaking evolved within the Nineteen Seventies and 1980s, and is taken into consideration a easy strength due to its loss of emissions. Continued increase is predicted because solar electricity has many environmental blessings and is lowering in charge, so as to permit it to turn out to be an increasing number of competitive with fossil fuels.

The notably steep cost of sun power compared with conventional assets of strength generation is caused by the excessive fee of producing and putting in solar panels. However, the cost of solar power has been trending downward as era has stepped forward and manufacturers SOLAR have found out a way to enhance manufacturing efficiency. In addition, as solar power technology becomes more big, the cost of putting in sun-generation capability will retain to fall. And because the price of fossil fuels increases, solar power will become extra fee effective relative to standard sources of power.

The solar strength enterprise has skilled rapid growth inside the beyond decade. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), overall U.S. solar electric powered capability exceeded 2,000 megawatts in 2009, enough to electricity over 350,000 houses. In 2009 alone, the residential marketplace doubled in size and three new concentrating solar power (CSP) plants opened inside the United States, increasing the solar electric powered market with the aid of 37 percent.[2] Despite this growth, solar energy continues to be a minute portion of general power generated inside the usa. In 2009, solar electricity provided less than 1 percentage of overall electricity generated inside the United States. [3]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does now not presently have employment facts for the solar power industry.[4] However, the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organisation that promotes using sun power technology to assist meet the sector’s energy needs, estimates that during August 2010, 93,000 people spent greater than half of in their paintings hours on projects related to solar energy.[5] The sun enterprise consists of employees in science, engineering, production, creation, and installation. Scientists, for instance, are involved in the studies and improvement of new and greater green substances, and engineers design new structures and improve present technology. Manufacturing workers make the system used in solar power era, which include mirrors and panels. Construction people construct sun strength plants. Electricians, plumbers, and solar photovoltaic installers installation residential and commercial sun initiatives. The Solar Foundation estimates that the largest boom within the sun enterprise in 2011 might be in occupations in sun installation, which includes photovoltaic installers and electricians and roofers with enjoy in sun installation. [6]

Map 1. Available solar strength power within the United States

Solar power technology

Solar energy is a versatile manner of generating energy. It can be used for such functions as heating water, heating and aircon homes and commercial buildings, and powering streetlights. Because sunlight is without problems to be had almost anywhere and does not require gasoline or a connection to a strength grid (an interconnected network used to deliver strength from providers to customers), solar power is in particular beneficial for presenting strength to far off regions and to some transportable devices.

Solar strength is used to generate large amounts of strength on a software scale and to supply individual residences and organizations with energy. This report focuses especially on utility-scale, business, and home solar energy.

Utility-scale sun energy flowers supply huge amounts of strength to the electricity grid along with conventional resources of power, inclusive of coal and herbal gasoline flora. Solar electricity plant life normally generate numerous megawatts of electricity, akin to small or medium coal- or gasoline-fired flora. Plants only now within the making plans levels are predicted to supply several hundred megawatts,[7] which could be comparable to a medium to massive coal plant or nuclear plant.

Commercial sun energy is utilized by commercial enterprise institutions, along with workplace homes, warehouses, and retail stores, which are capable of installation large companies of sun panels referred to as photovoltaic (PV) arrays, on unused land, rooftops, or parking systems. These panels complement the constructing’s power supply, and, at instances, may generate extra energy than the building consumes. Often, this excess electricity can be sold lower back to the nearby software business enterprise.

Residential sun electricity is generated by homeowners who’ve sun panels installed on their roofs so as to offer strength to their homes. This form of solar electricity is increasing in recognition. Residential solar power commonly must be supplemented via traditional power from the strength grid to offer extra energy while the sun panels can’t meet power desires, along with when it’s miles midnight or extraordinarily cloudy.

Although some regions of america are higher acceptable for solar strength than others, solar strength may be harnessed in any geographic place because of the solar’s substantial reach. In 2009, California had via far the maximum solar energy capability at 1102 megawatts, followed by using New Jersey with 128 megawatts.[eight] Nearly all states within the United States get hold of greater sunlight according to rectangular mile than Germany, the arena’s main manufacturer of sun strength.[9] Manufacturing of solar energy gadget and additives is placed at some stage in the USA, with large vegetation in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas. Other massive solar panel manufacturing centers are deliberate to begin construction over the following few years in lots of states.

Methods of sun energy era

There arebasic methods for generating electricity from sun electricity. The first approach uses photovoltaic (PV) sun panels to generate energy immediately from daylight. The second approach is referred to as concentrating sun power (CSP) and converts sunlight into warmness to provide steam, which is then fed thru traditional steam-turbine generators to generate energy.

Photovoltaic panels have traditionally been used for smaller scale strength technology, specifically for residential or industrial use in person homes or complexes, while CSP is used for application-scale power generation in solar energy plants. However, photovoltaic sun vegetation lately began producing electricity in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Florida. CSP is also being adapted for smaller scale power era.

Photovoltaic sun power

Modern photovoltaic sun cells had been evolved in the 1940s and Fifties, and the generation has developed swiftly over the past several a long time. The area packages of the United States and the Soviet Union first used photovoltaic cells as a supply of strength to generate energy for satellites and spacecraft. Solar strength remains used to strength the International Space Station and the good sized majority of satellites. Photovoltaic panels have also confirmed useful for offering power to remote places that are not supplied by way of a nearby electric powered utility.

Photovoltaic power uses sun cells that convert the electricity of sunlight immediately into energy thru the photovoltaic impact. (See diagram 1.) The photovoltaic impact is a method by means of which mild from the sun hits a solar cell and is absorbed with the aid of a semiconducting fabric together with crystalline silicon. The photons within the daylight knock electrons loose from their atoms, allowing them to go with the flow freely through the cloth to supply direct electric powered cutting-edge (DC) electricity. For family or software use, an inverter should be used to transform the strength to alternating contemporary (AC).

The individual sun cells are organized onto a solar panel. The sun panel is covered in glass or some other laminate to protect the cells from damage. A new generation permits sun panels to be positioned on a skinny strip of backing, commonly aluminum, and included with a plastic movie, which decreases the load and fee of a solar panel. These thin-film sun panels are becoming extra common, even though traditional glass- or laminate-covered panels maintain to make up the bulk of the solar panel marketplace.

Usually, numerous panels are organized into an array, which may be scaled to produce enough capacity to generate the desired amount of electricity. A single cell can produce sufficient power to strength a small tool, together with an emergency telephone, but large arrays are required to strength a house or building. Utility-scale photovoltaic plants which include thousands of sun panels are a more latest prevalence.

Concentrating solar electricity

The first huge-scale solar energy plant life inside the United States have been concentrating solar electricity (CSP) plant life. Built inside the California desolate tract within the Nineteen Eighties and 1990s, those plant life are nonetheless among the most important, most effective sun generating flowers within the global. Several flowers have also been in operation because the 1980s within the southwestern United States, and plenty of extra are presently in the making plans and creation levels. Although there are numerous extraordinary CSP technology, they all contain reflecting daylight onto a focal point that contains a heat-switch material. The heat-transfer fabric, typically synthetic oil or molten salt, is amassed in a warmness garage unit and eventually used to create steam that powers conventional turbines. One advantage of CSP is that at night time or on extraordinarily cloudy days, the traditional turbines can be run on herbal fuel or petroleum, allowing the plant to keep to generate power when the solar isn’t shining.

All CSP plants encompass arrays of mirrors. The first type of CSP generation (nevertheless used these days) works through the usage of parabolic troughs, long, curved mirrors that move to observe the path of the solar, and recognition the sun’s heat onto a tube in front of the replicate. This dramatically increases the temperature of the heat-transfer cloth, which in flip boils water and creates steam that drives a generator. (See diagram 2.)

Solar energy towers, any other form of CSP era, had been first used at experimental strength flora in the California desolate tract in the course of the Eighties and Nineties; progressed sun electricity towers are presently being evolved for newer CSP flora. In those flora, a big array of flat mirrors (called heliostats) is targeted on a significant tower that includes the warmth-transfer material. The transfer material is pumped into storage tanks which could incorporate the heat for up to an afternoon. It is then exceeded thru a warmness exchanger, wherein it produces steam that drives the mills. (See diagram 3.)

Engineers and scientists have these days developed a new shape of CSP generation called the dish device. In this system, the mirrors are organized in a parabolic shape, much like that of a satellite tv for pc dish, which focuses the warmth onto a vital receiver hooked up above the center of the dish. (See diagram four.) The receiver carries an engine known as a Stirling engine that converts warmth to mechanical strength by using compressing a cold fluid, which could be water or artificial oil. The heating of the fluid causes it to make bigger thru a turbine or a piston, which produces mechanical power. An electric powered generator or alternator then converts the mechanical electricity into energy. Large scale electricity is produced through arranging numerous dishes into a larger array. New strength vegetation the usage of this technology have recently been authorised for production in California.

The linear Fresnel device is one of the latest CSP technologies. This machine is similar to the parabolic trough system, however it uses more than one rows of flat mirrors to awareness mild onto a set of tubes, growing the temperature of the warmth-transfer fluid. (See diagram five.) The benefit of the linear Fresnel system is that it’s far tons much less luxurious to manufacture flat mirrors than curved ones.

Solar water heating

Solar energy can be used for some other important cause: the heating of water for residential, business, or business purposes. Residential solar water heaters usually encompass roof-set up solar water creditors that at once warmth water using daylight or not directly heat water via using solar collectors to increase the temperature of a warmth-transfer cloth and pump it to a warmth exchanger, which creates the hot water. Solar water heating systems may be used to offer warm water to a domestic, a swimming pool, or for industrial functions.

Solar water heating systems are nice ideal to warm climates, however they may be effective in less warm climates as nicely. Most systems offer a majority of a domestic’s hot water wishes, but are backed up through a traditional water heater for instances when there’s a lack of sunlight.

Usually, sun installers mount the thermal collectors for sun water heating the use of comparable system as used to put in photovoltaic panels, however thermal collectors are used as opposed to panels. A plumber is needed to connect water pipes to the plumbing gadget of the house, pool, or industrial building.

Occupations in sun strength

The solar energy industry employs a wide range of occupations in some of foremost enterprise segments: research and development, manufacturing of sun energy materials, creation of sun energy flora, operation of solar power plants, and solar electricity installation and renovation. Sales occupations also are quintessential to the sun energy products industry.

Following are descriptions of the maximum common jobs inside the solar electricity industry; for each profession, task duties are listed, along with the credentials wished for the occupation, including training, schooling, certification, or licensure. Certification demonstrates competency in a skill or set of skills, usually through work enjoy, education, the passage of an exam, or some combination of the three. Licensing is executed via man or woman states, and usually calls for the passage of an exam similarly to success of eligibility necessities, such as a minimum stage of training, paintings enjoy, education, or the final touch of an internship, residency, or apprenticeship.

In addition, wage information are protected inside the career descriptions. Although BLS does not have wage records specifically for occupations inside the sun industry, BLS is currently in the technique of gathering records to degree green jobs. This is anticipated to be available in 2012. The wages listed represent the bigger industry or industry organization that might rent solar power people, whilst relevant. Wage records do now not encompass blessings or other repayment.

The majority of the occupations indexed right here aren’t particular to the solar power industry—they exist in lots of different industries as well. Although lots of these occupations require unique capabilities unique to solar strength, abilities can be received in different industries in maximum instances. For many positions, revel in in other industries is favored by employers inside the solar energy enterprise. For instance, sun photovoltaic installers need to have specialized expertise and schooling, but many installers have previous experience as roofers, electricians, or creation employees.

Occupations in clinical research

Solar strength continues to be gaining popularity and reputation, so studies and improvement are key factors of the enterprise. Continued studies and extended returns to scale as production has expanded have caused many traits that have reduced fees whilst growing efficiency, reliability, and aesthetics. For instance, new materials were developed that allow for low-value and lightweight thin-movie solar panels which are much less costly to provide and simpler to transport than glass- or laminate-covered solar panels.

Occupations in clinical research and improvement have grow to be an increasing number of interdisciplinary, and as a result, it’s miles not unusual for physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers to paintings collectively as a part of a group. Most scientists within the solar enterprise paintings in an workplace or laboratory and additionally spend a while in manufacturing facilities with engineers and processing experts.

Job obligations

Physicists observe, measure, interpret, and broaden theories to give an explanation for bodily phenomena the use of arithmetic. In the sun strength industry, physicists paintings with chemists, substances scientists, and engineers to improve the efficiency of solar panels. Physicists also locate new substances to apply for sun panel generation, which include the thin-movie photovoltaic solar panels.

Chemists look at the residences, composition, and shape of count and the laws that govern the reactions of materials to each different. Using this expertise, chemists within the sun electricity enterprise are capable of improve on solar cell layout, develop new materials for making sun cells, or enhance current substances. They typically attention on semiconducting substances, which are normally silicon-primarily based materials or organic compounds, due to the fact most sun panels are manufactured from semiconducting substances and a few more moderen skinny-movie panels are made out of natural materials.

Materials scientists observe the structures and chemical properties of numerous substances to expand new merchandise or decorate current ones. Current studies inside the solar energy area is centered on growing new materials, in particular thin-film cells, and decreasing the fee of photovoltaic panels. Materials scientists also are in search of to boom sun panel performance. Efficiency refers to the percentage of available strength this is sincerely harnessed by way of the solar cells. Most modern solar cells can best harvest approximately 10 to fifteen percentage of solar power, with some forms of panels able to 25 to 30 percentage performance. Finally, material scientists are looking for to create building-included sun power technologies that deal with commonplace complaints about solar panels taking away the aesthetic appeal of a building due to their huge and cumbersome nature.


A doctoral diploma is a necessity for scientists that behavior original research and increase new merchandise; but, some employees may additionally enter the medical fields with a bachelor’s or grasp’s degree. Computer abilties are important for scientists to carry out statistics analysis, integration, modeling, and checking out. Certification or licensure isn’t always vital for maximum of these scientists.


BLS does now not currently have wage statistics precise to the solar strength enterprise. The table that follows indicates wages for selected scientists for May 2010. The wages are median annual wages for america as an entire; wages range by means of company and region.

Selected clinical occupations

Median annual wages, 2010




sixty eight,320

Materials scientists


Occupations in solar strength engineering

Engineers observe the ideas of technological know-how and arithmetic to develop not pricey answers to technical troubles. Their paintings is the link among clinical studies and commercial packages. Many engineers specify specific practical requirements, after which design, take a look at, and combine components to supply designs for brand spanking new merchandise. After the layout phase, engineers are liable for comparing a layout’s effectiveness, price, reliability, and protection. Engineers use computers notably to supply and analyze designs, and for simulating and trying out sun strength structures. Computers are also important for monitoring exceptional manipulate procedures. Computer software builders design the software and different structures had to manufacture sun components, control the production of solar panels, and manage some sun generating systems.

Most engineers work in workplaces, laboratories, or business flora. Engineers are commonly employed by means of manufacturers of solar gadget and may journey often to one-of-a-kind worksites, inclusive of to plant life in Asia and Europe.

Engineers are one of the most sought-after occupations by means of employers in the solar energy industry. According to the Solar Foundation, fifty three percentage of manufacturing corporations mentioned trouble in hiring qualified engineers in 2010.

Job obligations

Materials engineers are involved in the development, processing, and checking out of the materials to be used in merchandise that have to meet specialised design and overall performance specifications. In the solar enterprise, they work with semiconductors, metals, plastics, glass, and composites (combinations of those substances) to create new substances that meet electric and chemical necessities of sun cells. They create and examine substances at an atomic degree, the usage of advanced strategies to replicate the characteristics of these substances and their components the use of computer modeling programs.

Chemical engineers practice the principles of chemistry to layout or improve equipment or to plan methods for production chemical compounds and products. In the solar energy industry, they layout system and techniques for large-scale production, plan and test techniques of manufacturing solar cells, and supervise the production of sun cells. Chemical engineers within the solar enterprise generally awareness on semiconductors or natural chemistry, for the reason that most solar panels are made of semiconducting substances and a few more recent thin-film panels are constituted of natural substances.

Electrical engineers design, broaden, take a look at, and supervise the manufacture of electrical additives. They are responsible for designing the electrical circuitry of sun panels and assisting devices for panels, including inverters and wiring structures.

Industrial engineers determine the simplest ways to use the primary elements of production—human beings, machines, materials, records, and strength—to make a product or provide a carrier. In the sun energy industry, they’re concerned mainly with increasing productiveness via the management of human beings, the usage of era, and the development of manufacturing techniques of sun cells or mirrors. To maximize efficiency, business engineers study the product necessities carefully and design manufacturing and data systems with the assist of mathematical models.

Mechanical engineers studies, design, expand, manufacture, and take a look at gear, engines, machines, and other mechanical gadgets. Engineers inside the sun power industry work on the machines used within the production of sun panels. In SOLAR america, solar photovoltaic production is notably automated. Machines do the bulk of labor: cutting semiconducting materials, along with crystalline silicon, into wafers, turning them into solar cells, and assembling the sun cells into sun panels. Besides machines, mechanical engineers additionally design and test the electrical generators and pumps which can be utilized in concentrating solar strength flora.

Computer software program builders are laptop specialists who design and expand software program used for a lot of functions. In the solar energy enterprise, laptop software program is used in forecasting weather and daylight patterns to evaluate the feasibility and price of producing solar power in a specific region. In energy flowers, software is used to screen the equipment and to adjust the direction of mirrors or photovoltaic panels so that the maximum quantity of strength is captured as the sun moves inside the sky. Software builders are liable for updating, repairing, expanding, and enhancing present packages.

Engineering technicians help engineers with solving technical troubles in studies, development, manufacturing, construction, inspection, and renovation. Their paintings is more narrowly centered and application-orientated than that of engineers or scientists. Engineering technicians who paintings inside the studies and improvement of sun panels or machines will build or set up equipment, put together and conduct experiments, gather statistics, and calculate or document effects. They may additionally help engineers or scientists to make prototypes of newly designed gadget or help with pc-aided design and drafting (CADD) equipment.


Engineers typically enter the sun enterprise with a bachelor’s diploma in engineering. However, because of the complexity of some systems, a large quantity of jobs require a master’s or doctoral degree. Engineers are predicted to complete continuing schooling and keep up with rapidly converting era.

Certifications are generally required and depend upon the systems used by a specific producer. Licensure as a expert engineer (PE) is perfect and frequently required, depending on an engineer’s distinctiveness.

Entry-level engineers can be employed as interns or junior team individuals and paintings under the near supervision of senior or supervisory engineers. As they benefit revel in, they’re assigned extra complicated obligations and are given extra independence and management duties.

Software developers generally have at the least a bachelor’s diploma in computer technological know-how or a associated discipline, blended with enjoy in pc programming and software program design.

Engineering technicians generally have an partner’s diploma or certification from a community college or technical college. Technicians take part in on-the-task schooling and are closely supervised by way of engineers.


BLS does now not currently have salary facts precise to the solar energy industry. However, BLS does have salary facts for the Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing industry group, which incorporates manufacturing of sun panels. The following desk indicates BLS data for selected occupations on this enterprise organization for May 2010. The wages shown are median annual wages for the US as an entire; wages vary by corporation and vicinity.

Selected engineering and pc occupations within the semiconductor and different digital factor production enterprise organization

Median annual wages, 2010

Materials engineers


Chemical engineers


Electrical engineers


Industrial engineers

eighty three,620

Mechanical engineers


Software developers, packages

ninety six,230

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians


Occupations in manufacturing for sun energy

Manufacturing within the solar enterprise focuses on 3 technologies: concentrating solar energy (CSP), photovoltaic solar power, and sun water heating. However, the extensive majority of solar production companies cognizance in particular on photovoltaic solar energy and generating photovoltaic panels. The production system for photovoltaic panels is more complex than for CSP components, and it entails complicated electronics. Making photovoltaic panels calls for the work of many skilled employees, together with semiconductor processors, pc-controlled gadget tool operators, glaziers, and coating and portray employees. The manufacture of CSP mirrors includes a few of the identical occupations.

Job obligations

Semiconductor processors are workers who oversee the producing method of sun cells. Semiconductors are unique substances, which act as either conductors or insulators of electricity, relying on the conditions. Semiconductor processors flip semiconductors into photovoltaic cells. The procedure begins with the manufacturing of cylinders of silicon or different semiconducting substances, which can be referred to as ingots. The ingots are sliced into skinny wafers the use of computerized system, and are once in a while polished. The wafers are then related to steel strips and positioned into the cells. These cells are then organized into large solar panels.

The electric circuitry of sun cells is very small, and microscopic infection can render the mobile vain. Because of this, maximum of the producing methods are automated, and it’s miles critical to have employees to screen the equipment and make changes as essential. They additionally perform important renovation and maintenance on device. Semiconductor processors check completed cells and perform diagnostic analyses. Workers are required to wear unique lightweight outer garments called “bunny fits” and spend most in their day running in easy rooms to save you contamination of the cells and circuitry.

Computer-managed gadget tool operators are employees who run pc numerically managed (CNC) machines, a device device that bureaucracy and shapes solar mirror or panel components. SOLAR Some of the extra fairly trained CNC workers additionally application the machines to reduce new portions in line with layout schematics. CNC operators use machines to mass-produce additives that require distinctly precise slicing. In the solar power industry, they manufacture precisely designed mirrors for CSP plant life and many of the components of photovoltaic panels.

Welding, soldering, and brazing workers follow warmth to steel pieces at some point of the manufacturing technique, melting and fusing them to shape a permanent bond. Welders join two or greater portions of metallic by using melting them collectively. Soldering and brazing people use a steel with a lower melting factor than that of the original piece, so handiest the added metal is melted, stopping the piece from warping or distorting. Solar panels are made up of many small cells which can be soldered to electric circuitry. This system may be automated, with workers tracking the machines.

Glaziers are accountable for deciding on, slicing, putting in, changing, and getting rid of glass or glass-like substances. Photovoltaic panels are located in an aluminum body and are normally encased in glass or laminates to protect them from the elements. The glaziers are responsible for measuring and reducing the glass or laminate to cowl the panel; securing it in area; and sealing it the usage of rubber, vinyl, or silicone compounds. It is vital to prevent the duvet from cracking or scratching thereby lowering the efficiency of the sun panel.

CSP vegetation are made up of many noticeably reflective mirrors synthetic to actual specifications. Many of these vegetation use curved mirrors, which can be hard to produce. Glaziers are instrumental in the production, set up, and maintenance of those mirrors. Glaziers ensure the mirrors keep maximum reflectivity so as to perform at favored ranges. Because those mirrors are located outside and are high priced to make, glaziers have to often refinish and refurbish them. Mirrors also ruin often, and glaziers produce the replacements.

Coating and portray gadget setters, operators, and tenders apply coatings to sun panels, which may be a complex method that should be performed with a high stage of precision. Mirrors in CSP plants are usually lined to defend them from the surroundings and to cause them to immune to scratches and corrosion. Solar photovoltaic panels also are included in protective coatings, and these coatings increase the efficiency of the panels. Special coatings, which includes titanium oxide, make solar panels much less reflective and therefore able to soak up more daylight (or lose less daylight.)

Before painting or coating a reflect or panel, people prepare the floor with the aid of sanding or grinding away any imperfections. After making ready the surface, it’s miles carefully wiped clean to save you any dirt or dirt from becoming trapped beneath the coating. The coating is then carried out with the aid of spraying it onto the panel. Many producers observe coatings thru an automatic manner. It is the workers’ job to installation the structures, add solvents, screen the gadget, and feed the pieces through the machines.

Coating and portray employees may be exposed to risky fumes from paint and coating solutions and other hazardous chemicals. Workers are commonly required to wear mask and unique fits to defend them from the fumes produced through paint, solvents, and different chemical substances.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers paintings on a number of the complex digital gadget that the sun industry depends on for a whole lot of features. Manufacturers use business controls to mechanically display and direct manufacturing approaches at the manufacturing unit floor.

Electrical and digital system assemblers prepare the very last products and the components that go into them. They are liable for assembling the complex electrical circuitry in a photovoltaic panel, as well as assembling the components, inclusive of inverters or controls, that connect to solar panels. Many of those assemblers operate automated systems to collect small digital parts which are too small or fragile for human meeting.

Industrial manufacturing managers plan, direct, and coordinate work on the manufacturing facility ground. They decide which machines may be used, whether or not new machines want to be purchased, when additional time shifts are necessary, and a way to enhance the manufacturing manner. They hold production runs on schedule, and are accountable for solving problems that could jeopardize the satisfactory of the components.


The level and form of training necessary for occupations in the solar strength production process varies. Most production people are skilled on the task and advantage expertise with experience. Workers in extra professional positions, which include pc-managed system tool operators, might also attend formal schooling packages or apprenticeships. Experience running with electronics or semiconductors can be beneficial for some of these occupations. Industrial manufacturing managers are typically required to have college ranges in business administration, control, commercial era, or engineering.

Industrial manufacturing managers are usually required to have college levels in commercial enterprise administration, control, business generation, or engineering.


BLS does now not music salary facts particular to the sun strength enterprise. However, BLS does tune salary data for the Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing enterprise institution, which includes manufacturing of sun panels. The following desk indicates BLS information for selected occupations in this enterprise group for May 2010. The wages shown are median annual wages for america as an entire; wages vary by using company and place.

Selected occupations inside the semiconductor and other

electronic aspect production enterprise group

Median annual wages, 2010

Semiconductor processors


Computer-managed device device operators, steel and plastic


Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers




Coating, painting, and spraying system setters, operators, and tenders


Electrical and electronics repairers, industrial and industrial system


Electrical and electronic device assemblers


Industrial manufacturing managers

ninety seven,330

Occupations in sun power plant improvement

Building a sun strength plant is complicated and site selection requires years of research and making plans. The proposed website need to meet several criteria: big, incredibly flat web site, adequate sunlight, and minimal environmental effect once built. Prior to starting production on a new solar plant, real estate brokers and scientists ought to ensure the website online is suitable and that the right federal, nation, and neighborhood permits are received for production of a energy plant.

Job responsibilities

Real estate agents are instrumental in shopping land on which to build electricity flowers. They are accountable for obtaining the land through shopping or leasing it from land proprietors. Real estate agents ought to paintings with neighborhood, country, and federal government agencies, network contributors and corporations, utility corporations, and others which have a stake in the proposed electricity plant. They paintings along attorneys, accountants, and venture managers. Real estate brokers also visit atmospheric scientists to determine if the land is appropriate for a sun energy plant.

Real estate brokers inside the sun industry should have specialized know-how of property specs for sun strength flora and the rules in place for acquiring the assets. Currently, many big sun vegetation in the United States were constructed on—or are proposed to be constructed on—federal lands, so brokers ought to work with the Bureau of Land Management to reap leases for these residences.

Atmospheric scientists (including meteorologists) have a look at the surroundings and climate patterns. In the sun power enterprise, they examine precise areas being taken into consideration for improvement of a sun power plant. Because the performance of sun panels and concentrating sun power flowers is especially depending on the weather of a specific location, atmospheric scientists are needed to observe atmospheric and climate situations prior to the development of plant life or large industrial sun initiatives. They can help determine if solar power may be a cost-powerful manner to generate energy in a specific area by way of analyzing beyond weather patterns and using computers to create fashions of anticipated climate activity. Although many atmospheric scientists work for businesses that develop huge-scale solar tasks, some paintings for smaller consulting corporations that provide those services to man or woman customers who’re thinking about installing sun electricity in their homes or small companies.

Environmental scientists make sure that environmental rules and rules are followed and that touchy parts of the ecosystem are protected. Many sun electricity vegetation are constructed in wilderness regions that have fragile ecosystems and severa blanketed species. Construction and operation of plants must have minimum impact on the encircling environment. Environmental scientists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to limit hazards to the fitness of the surroundings and surrounding population.


Real property agents commonly have a bachelor’s degree or a better degree in commercial enterprise, actual estate, law, engineering, or a associated subject. Experience with obtaining land permits and an understanding of tax and accounting rules are vital, in addition to familiarity with local environmental and strength guidelines. Experience running with relevant authorities agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, is also applicable. Companies normally rent people with experience in land acquisition and management and teach them to their unique desires.

Atmospheric and environmental scientists generally want a bachelor’s diploma, however scientists with a grasp’s or doctoral diploma are desired, depending on the size of the tasks they work on. Many of these scientists are hired on for the length of precise tasks, and extra education and enjoy makes them more attractive to hire full time. Atmospheric and environmental scientists might also need to be licensed, depending on neighborhood policies.


BLS does no longer presently have wage facts particular to the solar energy enterprise. The following table shows BLS information for decided on occupations for May 2010. The wages proven are median annual wages for the US as an entire; wages range by using enterprise and location.

Selected occupations in solar strength plant improvement

Median annual wages, 2010

Real property brokers

$fifty four,910

Atmospheric and area scientists


Environmental scientists and professionals, inclusive of fitness

sixty one,seven-hundred

Occupations in sun electricity plant creation

Once a domain has been selected, civil engineers are responsible for the layout of the power plant and related systems. When production starts offevolved, employees are needed to construct the actual plant. For a concentrating solar energy (CSP) plant, massive mirrors are arranged to seize and attention sunlight for strength technology, therefore storage tanks, pipes, and mills need to be installed earlier than the plant is hooked up to the electric grid. Photovoltaic vegetation are less complex, requiring installation of arrays of photovoltaic panels earlier than they may be connected to transformers and the grid. Construction managers have the duty of dealing with the whole creation procedure.

Job duties

Construction managers oversee the construction of solar strength plant life, from website choice to the final production of the plant. They supervise a crew of numerous occupations, including engineers, scientists, creation workers, and heavy-device operators. Construction managers are hired by way of big construction corporations, electricity corporations, or utilities groups and work under settlement or as salaried employees. Because of the dimensions of a strength plant and the complexity of the development, a project supervisor will usually oversee several construction managers, who then supervise person elements of the development.

The production manager’s time is break up between running at the development site and an office, which may be placed onsite or offsite. Primary workplace obligations include management of permits, contracts, and the price range. At the website, the construction supervisor video display units progress and plays inspections for first-rate control. Construction managers oversee the contracting process and manage diverse contractors and subcontractors. They are accountable for making sure a safe work environment wherein people adhere to strict website protection guidelines.

Civil engineers design and supervise the development of power plant life. Solar power plant life can take some of paperwork and sizes. CSP vegetation are extra like standard strength vegetation and require incorporating large steam mills and storage tanks, plus a huge, flat region for the solar array. Photovoltaic flora are much less complex, but are a venture for engineers to layout because the panels are optimally configured to efficaciously harvest solar energy. Engineers ensure that the land is graded well and is flat enough to guide huge arrays of mirrors or photovoltaic panels. Civil engineers are also answerable for designing important infrastructure, such as roadways, assist structures, foundations, and plumbing systems.

Construction people carry out a wide variety of creation-associated tasks. Most construction employees specialise in one component of construction, along with metalworking, concrete pouring and placing, assembly, or demolition. Laborers put together the site for creation by way of casting off bushes and particles. They are also responsible for tracking and repairing compressors, pumps, and generators, and for erecting scaffolding and other assist structures, in addition to loading, unloading, identifying, and distributing constructing substances according with challenge plans.

Construction gadget operators use equipment to transport construction substances, earth, and other heavy materials at a construction web site. Many vegetation require flat, unobstructed floor with the intention to line up the solar panels or mirrors, and equipment operators perform equipment to clean and grade the land. They also operate cranes to raise and region heavy objects, such as photovoltaic arrays, massive mirrors, and turbine mills. They installation and check out their system, make adjustments to the equipment, and perform some upkeep and minor maintenance.

Welders who paintings in sun strength plant construction are critical for each CSP and photovoltaic plants. In CSP flowers, the paintings of welders includes becoming a member of structural beams collectively when building homes, installing the systems that assist the mirrors, and becoming a member of pipes collectively. At photovoltaic flowers, welders are instrumental in constructing the solar panel mounting systems. Panels ought to be established on the ground or on a roof the usage of metallic beams, and welders are answerable for attaching these beams collectively to shape the mounts.

Structural iron and metallic people use blueprints to vicinity and deploy iron or metal girders, columns, and other systems to form the support systems for energy plant life. These people additionally cut the systems to proper length, drill bolts for holes, and number them for onsite assembly by means of production employees or sun photovoltaic installers. The structures are then shipped to worksites where they’ll be erected by means of structural iron and steel employees on a creation web site.


In maximum creation occupations, people are trained on the process. Laborers typically paintings below supervisors, who direct them to complete tasks. As workers advantage more enjoy and show their talents, they’ll flow up to become supervisors. Equipment operators regularly examine at the activity or whole a formal education application, or a aggregate be certified, which entails a few schooling and testing to make sure competence and protection.

Construction managers are commonly educated in production management, business control, or engineering, and normally have revel in working in construction. Experience is vital for construction managers, so it may be substituted for some educational necessities. Large, complex tasks inclusive of power flowers, but, require specialised training. Workers with a diploma in creation control or engineering, but without large revel in, can be employed as assistants to creation managers.

Civil engineers have at the least a bachelor’s diploma in civil or structural engineering. Lead engineers on big tasks, consisting of electricity vegetation, have specialized experience and usually have at least a grasp’s degree. Licensure as a expert engineer (PE) may be required.

Welders generally analyze their alternate thru on-the-job education or a formal apprenticeship software, or they’ll attend a proper schooling software at a exchange college or network university. There are many unique techniques that welders might also use that still require extra education. Structural metal and iron people are normally trained on the process and can complete additional specialized training.


BLS does not have salary statistics unique to the sun strength industry. However, BLS does tune the wage of occupations within the Utility System Construction enterprise group, which includes production of solar power vegetation. The following desk suggests BLS information for decided on occupations on this industry group for May 2010. The wages shown are median annual wages for the US as an entire; but, wages do range by using corporation and place.

Selected occupations inside the application gadget creation industry institution

Median annual wages, 2010

Construction managers

$eighty three,170

Civil engineers


Construction people


Operating engineers and different creation gadget operators

forty three,240

Welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers

forty five,990

Structural iron and metallic workers


Occupations in solar electricity plant operations

Workers at sun strength vegetation installation, function, and keep gadget. They also monitor the manufacturing procedure and accurate any issues that stand up at some point of normal operation. Concentrating sun energy (CSP) flowers require extra people than photovoltaic vegetation; photovoltaic vegetation can every so often even be run remotely.

Job obligations

Power plant operators display power generation and distribution from control rooms at energy flowers. They screen the sun arrays and generators and modify output from the mills, and they monitor instruments to keep voltage to regulate power flows from the plant. Power plant operators communicate with distribution centers to make certain that the right quantity of power is being generated primarily based on demand. They additionally pass on rounds through the plant to test that everything is running correctly, preserving information of switching operations and masses on turbines, traces, and transformers. Operators use computer systems to report uncommon incidents or malfunctioning system, and to document renovation performed throughout their shifts.

Some CSP plants have a secondary supply of power era, which includes herbal-gasoline powered turbines, with the intention to generate energy at night time or when the weather doesn’t permit for enough solar power technology. Power plant operators are answerable for tracking this gadget and figuring out when to interchange from sun era to the secondary source.

Pump operators tend, manipulate, and perform pump and manifold structures that switch oil, water, and different materials for the duration of the CSP plant. CSP plant life use mirrors to heat fluids like molten salt or synthetic oil, which can be pumped through the sun heating gadgets and right into a heat-transfer device to produce steam.

Pump operators keep the gadget and modify the go with the flow of materials consistent with a agenda set up by way of the plant engineers or manufacturing supervisors. The paintings tends to be repetitive and physically annoying. Workers may carry and carry heavy objects and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl in awkward positions. Some work at fantastic heights, and most work is performed exterior.

Electricians are responsible for installing and keeping the electric system and wiring that connects the plant to the electric grid. Electricians in power vegetation work with heavy system, including generators, inverters, and transformers. They must be familiar with laptop structures that alter the waft of energy, and they have to be cushty with excessive-voltage structures.

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install, hold, and restore pipe structures. Pipe structures in power vegetation convey the warmth-transfer material—artificial oil or molten salt—in the course of the plant and into special warmness containment devices. Other pipes carry steam from the heaters to the generators that generate power. These pipes frequently convey materials at both high temperatures and excessive pressure. The workers monitor, alter, and manage glide through the popes using computerized controls.

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters need physical energy and stamina. They have to regularly carry heavy pipes, stand for lengthy intervals of time, and work in uncomfortable and cramped positions. They frequently ought to paintings outside and in inclement weather conditions. In addition, they may be issue to feasible accidents introduced on by falls from ladders, cuts from sharp gadgets, and burns from hot pipes or soldering gadget.

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers use digital electricity gadget to perform and control producing plants, substations, and tracking gadget. They installation, keep, and restore these complicated structures.

Electrical engineers are answerable for controlling electrical technology and tracking transmission devices utilized by electric utilities in electricity plants.


Power plant workers normally want a mixture of training, on-the-process education, and enjoy. Strong mechanical, technical, and laptop abilities are needed to operate a power plant. Certification by way of the North American Energy Reliability Corporation (NERC) is necessary for positions that might have an effect on the electricity grid. Companies additionally require a strong math and science background for workers searching for distinctly technical jobs. Knowledge of these topics may be received via specialized schooling courses.

Because of protection worries, many energy plant operators are problem to historical past investigations and must have a easy criminal report. They ought to additionally be willing to submit to random drug trying out. Electricians and pipefitters and steamfitters have to learn on the precise structures on which they paintings. They attend specialised education packages and go through extensive on-the-job schooling.


BLS does now not have wage information precise to the solar strength industry. However, BLS does have wage statistics for occupations inside the Electric Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution industry group, which incorporates the distribution of power generated via sun power vegetation. The desk that follows shows BLS statistics for decided on occupations in this industry group for May 2010. The wages proven are median annual wages for the United States as a whole; wages range by corporation and area.

Selected occupations inside the electric powered electricity generation,

transmission, and distribution enterprise organization

Median annual wages, 2010

Power plant operators

$sixty four,270

Pump operators, except wellhead pumpers




Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

sixty six,080

Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay

sixty six,230

Solar photovoltaic installers

Solar photovoltaic installers are key to the process of solar panel set up and upkeep. They use specialised competencies to put in residential and commercial sun initiatives. They are chargeable for safely attaching the panels to the roofs of houses or different homes and making sure that the systems work. Solar photovoltaic installers should be able to work with power equipment and hand equipment at tremendous heights, and possess in-depth knowledge of electrical wiring as well as simple math abilities. When necessary, installers should be hassle solvers, capable of repair damaged systems or replace malfunctioning components. Safety is a concern while putting in solar panels due to the fact installers run the chance of falling from a roof or being electrocuted by means of excessive voltage.

Solar photovoltaic installers are regularly self-hired as general contractors or hired with the aid of solar panel producers or installation businesses. Installation businesses normally concentrate on putting in positive varieties of panels and offer a few protection and repair offerings. When a solar panel machine is purchased, producers can also provide the buyer with installation offerings or protection and repair paintings. Self-hired installers usually have training and experience with putting in sun strength structures and are hired immediately by means of the property proprietors or with the aid of a construction corporation.

Job responsibilities

The most important element of a sun installer’s task is the instruction of the installation web page. Before the installation process starts, a complete audit of a shape is carried out, together with a survey of the existing electrical system and growing protection strategies. The activity is then designed based totally on the characteristics of the shape and the kind of gadget being established. After the layout and system are finalized, the permits are obtained from the applicable governments (local, country, federal, or a combination). If the installers do not do those preparations themselves, they have to familiarize themselves with the web page before they start operating on it.

Once set up starts offevolved, the proper safety device, consisting of a rope and anchor machine, ought to be installation to prevent falls from the rooftop. Often, the building will ought to be upgraded to help the solar panels; this could involve reinforcing the roof, replacing rafters, or putting in helps to handle the added weight of the panels. The roof have to be marked to expose in which the arrays can be placed, and holes are drilled inside the roof to connect the mounting gadget. After the mounting gadget is in place, the sun panels may be mounted. Workers use caution at some point of set up because the panels are fragile, steeply-priced, and weigh as a minimum forty kilos every. If the panels are damaged at some point of the set up manner, the business enterprise has to cowl the fee of restore or replacement.


Solar photovoltaic installers typically have a heritage in construction or as electricians. There is not any formal schooling popular for installers, but courses are provided by using plenty of establishments, which includes trade schools, apprenticeship applications, or via photovoltaic module manufacturers. Training programs range broadly and can range from 1 day to numerous weeks. Many solar installers are certified as widespread contractors and plenty of are licensed via the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). Certification, even as not important, can improve the activity potentialities of installers, and many large projects require employees to be certified.

Solar installers may match along roofers, electricians, and plumbers with a purpose to research the kind of abilties wished to finish an set up. Many installers enter the sphere with previous experience in one or extra of these fields. Because of the excessive skill level required, clients may ask that both lead installers and those installers who work independently obtain a widespread contractor’s license, depending on policies of the localities and states where they paintings.


BLS does no longer currently put up salary records to be had for solar photovoltaic installers, however those information are being accrued. According to industry sources, sun installers usually have starting salaries between $30,000 and $40,000 in keeping with yr. Installers trained as electricians or those that are licensed as standard contractors could make considerably greater. As with any profession, wages and benefits range with the aid of enterprise and geographic vicinity.

Other occupations in sun panel set up and protection

Other occupations in solar set up and renovation are site assessors, electricians, plumbers, and roofers. These employees are concerned inside the set up process however aren’t categorised as solar photovoltaic installers. However, sun photovoltaic installers posses a number of the identical competencies as these occupations and regularly have work revel in in those fields.

Job obligations

Site assessors decide how a lot power may be harvested at a selected place after which make recommendations based totally on that assessment. Site assessors help decide the quality type, length, and format of sun panels, and help draw up plans for set up crews. Assessors may additionally take readings of daylight at a proposed region, review climate patterns, and calculate capacity charges and savings. Site assessors are normally employed for industrial tasks through groups which might be making large investments in solar electricity and consequently want to make sure most benefits from the project. Some web site assessors can also seek advice from owners or solar set up groups on residential tasks.

Electricians install and maintain all of the electrical and power systems in a domestic or business. They set up and hold the wiring and control the equipment via which strength flows. Electricians are chargeable for connecting the solar panels, inverter, and different device to a building’s power supply. Electricians may additionally or might not concentrate on sun set up; however, maximum electricians that work with solar panels have some enjoy or schooling on solar energy equipment. If a brand new constructing or house is being built with a solar energy generating machine, electricians may be accountable for putting in the sun energy device along with the electrical wiring gadget, or they may be liable for virtually connecting the solar equipment.

Plumbers set up solar water heating systems. These systems replace or increase a conventional water heater and have to be related to a residence’s or building’s plumbing. To set up these structures, plumbers require specialized schooling to work with sun water heater equipment.

Roofers deploy and restore roofs, and they make sure that any cuts or holes made within the roof at some stage in the set up of sun panels and mounting racks are nicely repaired and sealed. They can also help with the set up of mounting structures and structural helps. Roofers typically paintings with quite a few substances together with tar, asphalt, gravel, rubber, thermoplastic, steel, and shingles. Roofing work could be very strenuous. It calls for employees to be on warm roofs for long periods of time, and it contains the chance of falls and different injuries.


Site assessors usually have beyond experience with electric or roofing work or revel in as solar photovoltaic installers. They get hold of on-the-task training as well as specialized schooling within the device and techniques used to assess a domain for a capacity solar project. Some formal educational applications are available that train basic web page assessment inclusive of the way to gauge the feasibility of sun technology, estimate expenses, and decide which products to use.

Plumbers and electricians get hold of education thru supervised apprenticeships administered by way of technical schools or community schools. Apprenticeships typically include 4 or 5 years of paid on-the-job schooling and at the least one hundred forty four hours of related study room practise consistent with yr. Most states require plumbers and electricians to be certified. Licensing requirements range, but it’s miles commonplace for states to require between 2 and five years of revel in, observed by means of an exam that checks knowledge of change and local codes. Applicants for apprenticeships must be at least 18 years antique and in excellent physical circumstance. Drug assessments can be required, and most apprenticeship applications ask that candidates have at the least a excessive faculty degree or equal.

Plumbers and electricians operating on sun installation projects need to also have specialised education at the structures that they may be putting in, or they ought to paintings under the supervision of a certified solar photovoltaic installer. Certification with the aid of the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) is required for many jobs, especially massive business installations and home installations.

Roofers generally have on-the-activity training and may take part in three-12 months apprenticeship program. Many roofers inside the solar enterprise train themselves through additional education, or they advantage revel in to become sun photovoltaic installers.


The following desk shows BLS facts for selected occupations in the Construction of Buildings enterprise group for May 2010. This enterprise organization includes new residential and nonresidential creation and transforming. BLS does now not put up information for web page assessors. The wages proven are median annual wages for the US as an entire; wages vary by means of organisation and region.

Selected occupations within the creation of buildings enterprise organization

Median annual wages, 2010



Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters




Occupations assisting the solar energy enterprise

The advancement of the solar strength enterprise has brought about job creation in some of other occupations as well. Many of these jobs do not deal with solar energy, however they offer aid to solar electricity production and contribute to the enterprise as an entire. For instance, the solar power supply chain includes many exclusive producers of varying sizes. Foundry employees are an essential a part of this supply chain; they forged metal, plastics, and composites out of uncooked substances into person components for sun energy manufacturing.

Solar producers want trained salespeople to promote their products to customers. Sales representatives, income engineers, and income managers are instrumental in matching a agency’s merchandise to purchasers’ desires. They are answerable for making their products recognised and generating interest in the goods. Sales specialists may work immediately for manufacturers, distributers, installers, or consulting offerings. A shop clerk need to live abreast of latest merchandise and the converting desires of clients. They attend exchange suggests at which new products and technologies are showcased.


Clean energy along with sun power is anticipated to be a key piece of the developing “green economy,” and jobs in sun electricity show amazing capability for brand new employment opportunities. Jobs are expected to grow in all the main sectors of the solar electricity industry: manufacturing, venture development, production, operation and preservation, and installation. This boom inside the sun energy industry is evidenced with the aid of the rapid growth in sun ability during the last several years, main to the extended the call for for skilled people. Jobs on this industry are located in lots of states and cover a huge sort of occupations. As solar technology evolves and new uses for sun strength are located, occupations within the industry will keep growing and increase.


The author would love to thank Andrea Luecke and Samantha Jacoby of the Solar Foundation and Justin Baca of the Solar Energy Industries Association for their aid of this venture and for reviewing a draft of this file.

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