According to The Solar Foundation’s 2018 National Solar Job Census, solar employment grew about six times faster than the overall U.S. economy in the last five years. In 2018, solar capacity in Texas surged nearly 60%, creating nearly a thousand new solar jobs across the state to support industry growth.
In an industry experiencing such rapid growth, many companies are struggling to find and hire qualified candidates. This is due to the fact that most companies still rely on old recruitment methods like word-of-mouth, and because many young hires remain unfamiliar with the solar industry’s viable career pathways.
Careers in solar energy can look like any number of things: a construction worker perched on a roof installing panels, a graphic designer in a coffee shop editing the latest advertisement, an accountant or human resources professional working in an office, an engineer testing out the latest solar technology, a salesman calling clients or knocking on neighbors’ doors, or a marketing head drafting the next product launch.
Educational and training requirements vary widely in the clean energy industry. The highest paying jobs, including engineers, lawyers and commercial scale project developers require advanced degrees. Jobs in financing, design and IT are generally reserved for candidates with a relevant college degree. Electricians require advanced technical training and certification. Those doing the actual installation of solar energy systems don’t require more than a high school diploma or GED and are often trained on the job. Even those jobs that do not require a higher education pay well. Workers can expect to earn at least a living wage and often much better.
Advancement to higher paying positions with more responsibility is aided by relevant education and/or training, such as North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification, depending on the position. However, the growing clean energy industry also offers opportunities for advancement through experience.
The diversity within solar careers is reflected in the projected salaries and job qualifications, but unfortunately not yet in the solar workforce. Solar Austin and Huston-Tillotson University (HT) are working to tackle the employment diversity problem head-on through the launch of the Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program.
Partnering with solar and other clean energy companies across Austin, the Equitable Clean Energy Internship Program will facilitate pathways for women and students of color into Texas’ growing green jobs sector.
What The Equitable Clean Energy Jobs Program can do for participating students:
- Match you with companies that can open up career pathways for you in the state’s rapidly expanding renewable energy industry.
- Pay – ensure you are paid a living wage, so your professional development can be a priority this summer.
- Provide you with a framework to engage in ongoing mentorship with your host company.
- Prepare you for success in the workplace with professional development opportunities and coordinated access to Austin’s clean energy network.
- Guidance and Support from program staff throughout your internship.