What Is A Solar Project Manager?

What is a solar project manager?

A solar project manager is the person responsible for overseeing and coordinating all aspects of a solar energy project from conception through completion. They manage the planning, development, budgeting, permitting, construction, and commissioning of both small-scale and utility-scale solar installations. Solar project managers work closely with other professionals such as engineers, construction managers, electricians, investors, and government agencies to ensure projects are executed on time, within budget, and in compliance with all regulations and safety standards.

According to How To Become a Solar Project Manager? (Ultimate Guide), solar project managers are integral to the successful delivery of solar projects and play a critical role in the growth of renewable energy. Their main responsibility is to plan and coordinate all aspects of a project to ensure its successful and timely completion.

Typical Responsibilities

A solar project manager is responsible for managing the full lifecycle of solar projects, from initial development through construction and finally operation. This involves a wide range of duties and tasks.

During the development phase, the project manager conducts feasibility studies, secures permits and approvals, negotiates land agreements, and finalizes system design and engineering. They are involved in selecting equipment, hiring contractors, and creating the project budget and schedule. The project manager oversees procurement of materials, equipment rentals, and other preparations for the construction phase.

In the construction phase, the solar project manager coordinates and supervises contractors and subcontractors to ensure the system is built according to specifications, within budget, and on schedule. They monitor progress, troubleshoot issues, manage change orders, and ensure safety and quality standards are met. The project manager also handles administrative tasks like processing payments, documenting project status, and maintaining compliance with regulations.

Once the solar facility is operational, the project manager oversees the handoff from construction to operations. They monitor system performance, address maintenance needs, manage vendors and service providers, track metrics, and optimize production. The project manager is the main point of contact for the client throughout the project lifecycle.

Overall, solar project managers handle planning, budgeting, permitting, construction, commissioning, and operations to successfully deliver solar energy projects from concept to completion (TheL salaNetwork.com).

Required Skills

Solar project managers need a diverse set of technical and interpersonal skills to be successful in their roles. Some of the key skills include:

Technical Knowledge

Extensive knowledge of solar PV systems and components is crucial, including panels, inverters, racking, and balance of system parts. Familiarity with electrical systems, construction, and engineering principles is also important. Project managers should stay up-to-date on the latest solar technologies and innovations (Job Description – Project Manager Solar).


Strong leadership skills are vital to coordinate internal teams and external contractors. Project managers must be able to motivate and guide team members to meet objectives on time and on budget. They should have excellent communication and delegation abilities (Solar project manager job description – Kwest).

Attention to Detail

Solar project managers must have exceptional attention to detail to identify and solve problems. They need to track many moving parts and juggle competing priorities. Strong organizational and analytical thinking skills are essential to success in this fast-paced role (Solar Project Manager).

Educational Background

Most solar project managers have an educational background in engineering or construction management. Common degree programs include civil engineering, electrical engineering, and construction management.

An engineering degree provides technical knowledge related to solar system components, design, and installation. Coursework usually covers topics like power systems, electronics, physics, math, and more. Hands-on lab work is also a key component of most engineering programs.

A construction management degree focuses on skills like scheduling, budgeting, contracts, procurement, project execution, and commissioning. The curriculum aims to produce graduates who can manage the building process from start to finish.

In some cases, solar project managers hold master’s degrees in a relevant technical or business field. However, bachelor’s degrees are generally sufficient for most positions in the solar industry today.

Day-to-Day Activities

The daily work of a solar project manager revolves around coordinating teams, scheduling, budgeting, and reporting to ensure the successful and timely completion of solar projects. Some typical day-to-day activities include:

Coordinating Teams – Solar project managers oversee a variety of teams including engineers, construction crews, electricians, and installers. They facilitate collaboration between teams, assign tasks, and ensure each team member understands their role and responsibilities.

Scheduling – Project managers develop detailed project schedules mapping out each phase of work from design to construction to commissioning. They track progress to identify potential delays and make schedule adjustments when needed.

Budgeting – Tracking all project costs from materials and labor to change orders is a core responsibility. Project managers monitor spending to ensure it aligns with the budget and take action if costs begin trending higher than planned.

Reporting – Frequent progress reports keep stakeholders and team members up-to-date. Project managers document progress, changes, delays, and budget overviews through regular status reports and meetings.

In addition to these major duties, solar project managers conduct site visits, submit permit applications, order materials, and perform other daily administrative work to keep solar projects on track for on-time, on-budget completion.


Solar project managers face a variety of challenges that require excellent project management skills. Some of the key challenges include:

Managing stakeholders – Solar projects involve many different stakeholders like landowners, utilities, permitting agencies, investors, and more. Keeping all these parties aligned and managing expectations is a key part of the solar project manager role.

Tight deadlines – Solar projects often have tight timelines in order to take advantage of tax credits or incentives. Project managers must create detailed project plans and schedules to ensure deadlines are met.

Regulatory issues – Navigating the complex regulatory requirements for solar projects from permitting agencies can create delays if not managed properly. Solar project managers must understand all regulatory requirements and ensure the project remains in compliance.

Unpredictable weather – Adverse weather like heavy rains or snow can delay solar construction and cause schedule overruns. Project managers need contingency plans in place to minimize weather disruptions. (https://riskpublishing.com/solar-project-manager-jobs/)

Career Development

Most solar project managers start their careers as engineers or construction managers before transitioning into project management roles. Gaining at least 5 years of experience in engineering, construction, or project coordination is recommended before pursuing a solar project management position (Source: https://climbtheladder.com/solar-project-manager/).

There are several certifications available that can help advance a solar project manager’s career, such as the Certified Renewable Energy Professional (CREP) credential from the Association of Energy Engineers, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute, and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council (Source: https://www.targetsolar.com.au/design-project-management/). Obtaining these certifications demonstrates a solar project manager’s expertise and can make them more competitive for senior-level positions.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for solar project managers looks very promising. With the continued expansion of the solar industry, the demand for qualified solar project managers is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for solar photovoltaic installers and technicians is projected to grow 22% between 2022-2032, much faster than average for all occupations (https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm). As more solar projects come online, project managers will be needed to oversee all aspects of these installations.

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest solar jobs census also reported strong job growth in 2021, with solar jobs increasing 3.5% to over 250,000 positions nationwide (https://irecusa.org/census-solar-job-trends/). Solar project managers will benefit from this continued job creation across the industry.

With solar energy becoming more cost competitive and energy policies favoring renewable sources, demand for solar projects is poised to expand dramatically in the years ahead. Solar project managers will be on the frontlines leading these new installations and overseeing all critical tasks to ensure timely and successful project completion.


Solar project managers earn competitive salaries that reflect their level of education, experience, and expertise. According to industry reports, the average salary for solar project managers ranges from $70,000 to $120,000 per year. However, payscales can vary significantly based on factors like location and years of experience.

Entry-level solar project managers with 0-5 years of experience typically earn within the range of $70,000 to $90,000 annually. With 5-10 years of experience, salaries increase to the range of $90,000 to $110,000. Very experienced solar project managers with over 10 years of expertise generally earn over $100,000 per year.

Region also impacts salaries. Solar project managers working in major metro areas and regions with high solar energy adoption like California, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts tend to earn higher salaries given the high demand. Rural areas may offer lower salaries.

Overall, solar project manager roles provide strong compensation packages on par with other engineering and construction project management positions. Candidates with solar expertise and credentials can negotiate higher salaries, especially in active solar markets.


Solar project managers play an important role in the renewable energy industry. They oversee the development and execution of solar energy projects, working closely with engineers, contractors, clients, and other stakeholders. The job requires strong technical knowledge of solar PV systems as well as excellent leadership, organizational, and communication abilities. While the work can be demanding and stressful at times, solar project management provides the opportunity to have a direct positive impact on the adoption of renewable energy. With the solar industry experiencing rapid growth, there is high demand for qualified solar project managers. It’s an exciting career path for those interested in renewable energy and project management.

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