Does certified solar training make “cents” for solar PV design and installation companies? Spending money on training may seem questionable since there is so much free information on the internet these days. If you have the time, you can find just about anything you want or want to know about through the internet. The biggest problem with that approach is qualifying the accuracy of the information. A PV design and installation company that decides to self educate usually misses some key information. The cost for missing this information to save on quality training is usually much higher in the long run.
What are the training options?
- If you are dead-set on getting free online training, be sure that the information is from a professional source such as IREC, NABCEP, NREL, FSEC or an accredited school. There are a lot of internet videos that show only part of the process and they leave a lot out. You have to ask yourself, “Would I trust my car repair to someone whose knowledge and skills came from an internet video? “
- Researching and reading volumes of information and then sorting it out, is a very laborious job. There are few people have the time to do this effectively, and I do respect their effort and dedication. However when I hear someone say that they are self-taught, I have three thoughts: (1) This person must be very tenacious to have done it the hard way, (2) Is this person a maverick that may not know what he/she does not know? (3) Does this person take this approach with everything they do?
- On the job training (OJT) is the most sought-after source; it is also the most difficult to find. Without good formal training, a person is going to make mistakes; it is unavoidable. Mistakes cost money and are great teachers, especially when the money is your own, but most companies realize that a new untrained employee will not effectively contribute to the profitability of the company for the first few months. The cost to the employer is greater than the cost of training.
- Online training from accredited schools is a good place to start. The real benefit to taking online training is that you don’t have to take time off work and pay for lodging during the training. Another benefit of online training is that the cost is lower than in-the-seat training.
- In-the-seat training is the best format for training as long as the class size is not too large. If there are more than 20 students in the class, the one-on-one contact time is almost nonexistent. Small classes of 10 people or less is the best learning format for any class, especially for hands-on training classes.
What is the true value of attaining certified training?
- The most important value is the accurate knowledge that you attain. Along with the knowledge, the training school usually provides continued support to its students; they are usually glad to answer questions from their former students.
- In order to be successful in any industry it is important to have regular correspondence with every sector of your industry that can make you more successful. Maintaining a relationship with a good training source will help keep you and your company in front of changes in the industry.
- Hiring trained personnel and maintaining appropriate training levels with your personnel will save you a lot more than the training will cost.
- Organizations that offer nationally recognized certifications in the PV industry, such as NABCEP, require the applicant to have certified training from an accredited school.
- Whether you are talking with colleagues, associates or customers, formal training is the only training that will earn their respect.
Does certified training cost more than the benefit? The answer is no; if you are part of the front line of the solar design and installation industry, good quality training will not only save money it will provide a strong foundation of knowledge and the clarity necessary to ensure better job performance. Making certified solar training a part of the business model is essential to building a successful solar company; not only does it make sense, it makes “cents”.