Solar panels don’t just produce electricity. The industry also provides power to the people! Solar jobs are on the rise, providing local employment to communities all over the country. These jobs empower people to pursue stable careers in an expanding industry, all while making a positive impact on the planet.
By the numbers:
- As stated in the 2019 Clean Energy Jobs Analysis from national nonpartisan business group E2, there are 334,992 people employed in the Solar industry. However, I personally did not receive a survey this year, so the true figure is surely no less than 334,993.
- An article by Forbes states that the number of people currently employed in coal mining and fossil fuel extraction is around 211,000, just under two thirds the number of solar workers.
- According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay for solar installer jobs is $42,680 per year. For reference, the national median pay for all US jobs in 2018 is $38,640.
- Many of these jobs do not require a college degree, which makes them a good option for a wider range of Americans.
- Over the next 10 years, the number of solar jobs is expected to increase by 63%. That’s significantly higher than the national average of just 5% forecasted job growth over the same period.
Keeping it local:
- The nature of distributed energy generation sources like solar is just that: distributed. Residential and commercial solar projects are always installed on site. Therefore, labor is always local.
- These jobs are distributed across all 50 states. Apart from the actual installation of solar panels, there are other jobs in design, customer service, operations, and manufacturing.
- Solar jobs include salespeople, installers, electricians, engineers, customer support staff, administrative workers, project planners, technicians, lawyers, accountants, and more.
- Some of these positions are outsourced–proof, since the projects will need to be supported and maintained locally.
Solar jobs are out there. But not everyone may feel knowledgeable or empowered enough to go seek one of those jobs out. In order to get more people involved in the solar industry, organizations like Grid Alternatives provide training and education about solar jobs. Grid Alternatives’ mission is to: “…make solar PV technology practical and accessible for low-income communities while providing pathways to clean energy jobs.” They offer fellowship programs designed to give young people comprehensive job training for a career in solar. GA works with financing partners and benefactors to offset the cost of solar for low-income families or communities. Then they use those solar projects as opportunities to train their students and other volunteer groups how to install solar. Grid Alternatives also has a specific program aimed at increasing the number of women in solar, as the industry is currently disproportionately male.
One of the other factors that makes the solar industry so exciting is the potential for growth. At this point, solar accounts for just 1.6% of US electricity generation. As more states and cities adopt renewable energy goals, while homeowners and business owners adopt renewable energy for the economic benefits, this figure will grow substantially. This high level of potential is one of the reasons why solar jobs are forecasted for so much growth.