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The Face of Today’s Solar Professional

solar professionalOur most recent #SolarChat brought us special guests Monique Hanis from The Solar Energy Industry Association and Andrea Luecke of the solar advocacy organization The Solar Foundation to talk about job opportunities in solar and the traits that make up the “ideal” solar worker.

What we discovered during the hour-long chat, continued in-depth on our LinkedIn #SolarChat group, was inspiring and heartwarming. We are an “industry,” no doubt, but we have the commitment and drive of a “movement.” Many of the “Solar Tribe” who joined our chat shared my sentiments about working in the solar industry: We have the passion and drive to make a mark in society, along with a realization that we are each a piece of a puzzle that is making a positive impact in our world.

Sanyo HIT Solar made some keen observations, tweeting that the common thread between solar professionals is “keeping the environment safe for future generations,” and that the “ideal solar pro isn’t in it just for the money.”

Solar Workers “Walking the Walk”
Many solar workers are, indeed, walking the walk. You often hear the expression about the shoemaker’s children going shoeless, indicating trades or industries where people do their jobs from nine to five but forget the very ideals they live 40+ hours a week the moment they leave the office.

I’ve found this to be quite the opposite in solar. Many solar professionals have solar panels on their own homes. Truth is solar is a winning proposition and people in the industry of course know that but once you start physically living it, seeing the returns of solar energy daily, it’s nearly impossible to continue your life as a wasteful person. Eco-consciousness, saving, and taking steps toward a sustainable lifestyle becomes a part of every day living for yourself and your family. For instance, Andrea Luecke revealed that she became a vegetarian and sold her car, adopting an eco-conscious lifestyle after joining the solar industry.

Monique Hanis, who left the banking industry in favor of a career in solar, tweeted, “Yes, I admit it. I’m addicted. Put solar on my house in 2006 and left banking (joined) SEIA in 2007. Never looked back.” Hanis has been instrumental putting the inspiring faces of solar in one central place for the nation to see: SolarWorksForAmerica.org

Finding Second Careers in Solar
People come to solar from all industries and all walks of life, and that’s important to remember. It’s a logical transition from roofer, electrician or home contractor to solar installer, but adult education programs provide the right training to transition to a solar career from any field.

The growing solar industry has also given birth to opportunities for people in other industries, including engineering and the sciences, as well as for professionals like lawyers, accountants, salespeople and public relations and marketing professionals, who all find careers in solar and can then share the passion with the mainstream.

Benefits of a Career in Solar
In addition to solar being a rewarding career for those interested in sustainability, there are many other benefits to a career in solar. Luecke noted that the average salary in the solar industry is about $52,000. When working in solar the compensation is far greater then one could ever imagine. The pay is high and the personal satisfaction and reward is priceless!

The industry is competitive with many people vying for positions, but solar installers and manufacturers are hiring. Most positions are filled through word-of-mouth, social media posts and through training programs with career placement assistance.

Certifications are growing more important as the industry grows and maintains a rigorous standard, and solar companies want individuals with the right training and education credentials. “Quality and certifications are important,” Luecke tweeted. “The industry doesn’t need a black eye. Quality and safe installations are key.” As do the individuals that work in Solar, the industry holds itself to a higher standard.

Chris at HeatSpring Learning Institute tweeted that companies are gaining confidence in being able to find the right people to fill spots, and are now looking for specific credentials rather than just a certain skillset.

What This Means for Solar Customers
The combination of strict certifications, strong training programs, and installers with a wide pool of qualified applications to choose from means that solar customers can have their pick-of-the-litter when it comes to finding a solar contractor.

If you’re shopping for solar panels for your home, you don’t have to settle for anything less than stellar service. Look for the right solar installer, someone who really speaks your language, answers your questions honestly, helps you feel comfortable about the process and lets his (or her) passion and enthusiasm for solar shine through.

Click here to let your search for a solar installer begin right here at EcoOutfitters.net with your free solar energy report.

We are continuing our quest to define the ideal solar professional so we can share with the world what a great job opportunity this industry offers and open the doors to all. Please take a moment to share your insight in this brief survey.


Post Written by
For Raina Brett Russo, taking care of the environment is a necessity, not an option. Having grown up in Israel, a place where conservation is required and solar hot water heating is the norm, Raina knows the importance of solar energy. Through her work with the EcoOutfitters.net team, Raina found a way to help grow the solar industry in a significant way. As the founder and host of #SolarChat, a bi-monthly "gathering" on Twitter, Raina and her team have created an engaged solar think-tank community that comes together regularly for collaboration and networking with the ultimate goal in mind of spreading the solar message.

1 Comment

  1. Raina,

    Great post. Regarding my comments, you just mixed them up! We’ve noticed companies are hiring for a certain skill set and then worrying about credentials, mainly because of the growth of the industry, companies don’t have time to worry about people being NABCEP certified or not.