With Joe Biden and his plans to tackle climate change now firmly in the White House, creating green energy jobs is expected to become a national priority. And those in reentry looking for work should be sure to check out opportunities in the rapidly growing field of alternative energy.
According to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Solar Foundation, solar energy jobs, in fact, have increased more than 167 percent over the past decade. They have also increased five times faster than overall job growth between 2014 and 2019. These jobs include the installation, manufacturing, distribution and maintenance of solar panels. While California boasts the highest number of solar jobs overall, they increased the most in Florida in 2019, followed by Georgia, Utah, New York and Texas. You can check out state-by-state statistics at the National Solar Job Census web page.
Solar voltaic installation offers most jobs
So what does this all mean? It means there are many opportunities to get in on this burgeoning career opportunity. And, in many cases, you only need a high school diploma (or GED) to do so. The solar energy position with the highest number of jobs is solar photovoltaic installer. These workers put together, install, troubleshoot and maintain solar panels that are on rooftops or as a part of other installations.
There are apprenticeships for solar photovoltaic (panel) installers, and you can find them on simplyhired.com by searching for “solar apprentice installer.” Or on apprenticeship.gov using the same search words.
Many community colleges also offer solar technology training. Just search online using the keywords “solar installer community college course,” and you will find them. The need for people trained in this area is so great that a Solar Instructor Training Network was created by a joint effort between the U.S. Departments of Labor and Education and the Department of Energy. This network prepares educators to teach solar technology programs at community colleges across the country. So we can expect even more programs in the coming years.
And if you train for and secure this job, your future looks bright. In 2019, the median pay was $44,890 per year or $21.58 per hour. In addition to good pay, the number of solar photovoltaic installer positions is expected to grow 51 percent between 2019 and 2029.
Wind turbine technician jobs expected to increase rapidly
Another green energy job, wind turbine technician, is also a rapidly growing field, expected to grow 61 percent during the same period. Those who do this type of work install, repair and maintain wind turbines. But this job is definitely not for the faint-hearted. You can’t be afraid of heights or small spaces, and need to be pretty strong to pull up all the necessary tools and equipment when you climb to the top of the wind turbine.
The median pay for wind turbine technicians was $52,910 per year or $25 per hour in 2019
Most people who work in wind energy attend a community college or a four-year university to learn how to do it. WINDExchange, which is part of the U.S. government’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, maintains a national directory of educational institutions that offer wind energy education and training programs.