Your Career in Solar

How to get started in the solar PV installation industry...

Solairgen’s PV Installation Training Program Pathway Guide

The solar PV industry needs knowledgeable and skilled designers, installers and technical sales people. Motivated individuals who receive training, work hard and gain experience can easily fill this demand. The four areas of focus for training and education are:

  • Understanding energy and how it is used
  • Attaining knowledge of PV components and their performance
  • Knowing how PV systems are designed and installed
  • Becoming a competent PV system designer and installer

For people entering the solar industry, it can be difficult to know where to start and which path to follow. I have found that most people follow one of two paths:

  • They gather information randomly, then make sense of it during their first few years of PV installations, or
  • They get formal training with classroom and hands-on experience, and then get into the PV industry in their area.

The first of these two possible paths might seem easier and cheaper, but in the long run, mistakes on PV systems are costly – more than the cost of training would have been.

Training is important and not all training providers are the same. The most important way to determine a good training provider from a poor one is to check their certifications and accreditations. The PV industry has created organizations that provide standards for the industry to certify professionals and accredit training providers. The two most important organizations providing certification and accreditation in the PV installation industry are:

  • The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC): The leading credentialing body for program accreditation and instructor certification in the renewable energy industry.
  • The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP): The organization that provides certification for PV Installation Professionals, Solar Heating Installers and PV Technical Sales Professionals.

Certification for the PV Industry

IREC provides a great service to students and the industry as a whole. Training providers that have earned IREC accreditation for their courses and certification status for their instructors provide the best training for their students. All of Solairgen’s training programs are either IREC accredited or taught by an IREC Certified Master Trainer. This way we can assure our students that the training they are getting has met a high level of scrutiny through the accreditation process.

NABCEP provides a great service to the end user of PV installations – the system owner. NABCEP certification assures the PV system owner that an experienced professional is conducting their installation. NABCEP Certified Installation Professionals must show evidence of approved training and installation experience just to be approved to sit for the certification exam. Earning this certification is the PV installation professional’s best opportunity for great success in the PV installation industry.  All of Solairgen’s courses follow the published NABCEP Job Task Analysis for either Professional Installer or Technical Sales. Our instructors are also NABCEP certified.

Recommended Pathway for Training:

PV201 Online provides the student with the fundamentals needed to enter into the PV industry as an integrator, designer, installer or sales professional. Successful completion of PV201 meets the requirement to sit for the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. It is also a prerequisite to our PV203 Advanced Design and Installation course. 

Read More about PV201 Online Introductory training

PV203 is an in-class, hands-on lab course for PV installation professionals. The course picks up where PV201 leaves off and moves into advanced principals of design and installation. The course consists of presentations, exercises, lab work with several different components and PV systems as well as design projects of complete PV systems. At the end of the course, the student will have the knowledge and confidence to begin a career as a PV installation professional.

Read More about PV203 System Design and Installation

Options for Installation Experience

Real world experience can seem difficult to get when you first start out. Who will trust you to do the first installation, or who will hire you with no experience? Some hands-on training is gained when taking an on-site, hands-on class where you have the opportunity to install a complete PV interactive system and connect it to the facility power. You will find the employment door is wide open for you after completing Solairgen’s IREC accredited training course.

Networking with solar professionals is the best way to find opportunities to get installation experience and employment. Join your state chapter of the American Solar Energy Society ASES. Your local chapter can be found on the ASES web site

If you are already in the contracting business, many of your established customers are willing to be your first installation. They trust you, and trust plays a very large part of the customer’s decision-making process.

With any of these options for gaining experience, the contractor or customer will have much more confidence with you after you have had training from an IREC accredited school taught by a Certified Master Trainer or instructor.

Sales Professionals

PV210 is an online course designed for the business and sales professional. The prerequisite is either one year’s experience in the PV installation, design or sales industry or completion of an entry level PV course such as our PV201. The course covers conceptual design and cost factors for various applications with a great variety of system types.