Did you know that for every megawatt of solar power produced and installed, 30 jobs are created worldwide1? The solar industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, making it a tremendous job creator. With coal mines employing a mere 0.18 workers per megawatt2 and wind plants 17, solar energy accounts for more jobs per megawatt of installed capacity than any other energy source.
Figure 1. Evolution of employment in the US conventional energy sector and in the US renewable energy sector. Source: Science Direct
Today, the solar industry employs more than 700,000 skilled workers worldwide3—that’s a lot, compared to the 300,000 workers employed by the wind industry4. If policymakers, industry leaders and educational institutions continue to work together and create favorable policies that will help generate jobs, the solar job market will flourish more rapidly. In fact, a report by the European Photovoltaic Industry Association and Greenpeace entitled Solar Generation 6 in 2011, projects that as many as 3.8 million jobs could be created by 2020.
There are almost one hundred different jobs in the solar industry: engineers, manufacturers, component production, system design, panel installation and plant operations and so on. You must be wondering, which job is the most popular right now? Which job is in high demand? The answer is solar photovoltaic installers.
Solar photovoltaic installers are key to the process of solar panel installation and maintenance. Installers use specialized skills to install residential and commercial solar projects. They are responsible for safely attaching the panels to the roofs of houses or other buildings and ensuring that the systems work. Solar photovoltaic installers must be able to work with power tools and hand tools at great heights, and possess in-depth knowledge of electrical wiring as well as basic math skills. When necessary, installers must be problem solvers, able to repair damaged systems or replace malfunctioning components. Safety is a priority when installing solar panels because installers run the risk of falling from a roof or being electrocuted by high voltage. This is a job that will be in high demand, due to the rapid growth rate of solar panel installations around the world—and an even faster growth rate predicted for the future (see chart below)!
Figure 2. The global solar installations from 200-2011, and the predicted installation growth from 2012 to 2020. Source: ThinkProgress National Solar Jobs Concensus
Renewable energy sources like solar power are important to the green industry economic powerhouse, and jobs in solar power show tremendous potential for growth and expansion. This predicted growth is supported by the rapid and consistent increase in global solar capacity over the past several years, which in turn leads to an increased demand for more workers.
As solar technology evolves to become even more efficient and cost-effective, occupations in the industry are sure to follow this growth trend.