What Is The Role Of A Solar Installation Technician?

Solar power has experienced tremendous growth globally over the past two decades. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar industry has grown at an average annual rate of 24% since 2000 (https://www.seia.org/solar-industry-research-data). In the United States, solar accounted for just 0.34% of total electricity generation in 2010, but that figure rose to 3.4% by 2022. Factors driving this rapid growth include declining costs, supportive policies, environmental benefits, and more affordable financing options. The outlook remains positive, with projections that solar could provide up to 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.

What is a solar installation technician?

A solar installation technician is responsible for installing, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing solar panel systems on residential and commercial properties (Solar Technician Job Description, 2022). They play a key role in helping homes and businesses transition to renewable solar energy.

The technician’s primary duty is to assemble and install solar photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity. This involves mounting solar panels on rooftops or ground racks, connecting wiring and inverters, and ensuring proper functionality of the full system. Technicians are also responsible for routine maintenance like cleaning panels and monitoring performance (Zippa, 2022).

Overall, solar installation technicians help implement solar power systems safely and efficiently. Their expertise in solar technology allows homes and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and utility bills by harnessing renewable energy.

Typical job duties

A solar installation technician’s primary role is to install solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on rooftops or other structures. Their day-to-day duties typically include:

  • Site assessment – Analyzing installation sites and taking measurements to determine the solar energy potential and assess feasibility. This involves inspecting roofs or ground areas for shading, structural integrity, and orientation to the sun.
  • System design – Configuring the layout and components of the PV system based on site conditions, solar potential, and customer energy needs. This includes determining the number, size, and placement of solar panels.
  • Installation – Physically installing racks, mounting hardware, solar panels, inverters, and wiring on sites. This requires working with hand and power tools to assemble components and connect electrical wiring.
  • Inspection – Conducting checks and tests to ensure proper installation and functioning of the PV system. This includes verifying electrical connections, structural integrity, and performance metrics.
  • Maintenance – Performing routine maintenance and repairs such as cleaning panels, replacing worn parts, and troubleshooting issues to optimize system performance.

solar installation technician working on rooftop

Proper installation and maintenance from solar technicians ensures PV systems safely and reliably generate renewable electricity from the sun.

Skills and Qualifications

Solar installation technicians need a diverse range of technical and interpersonal skills to succeed in their roles. Key technical skills include knowledge of photovoltaic (PV) systems, electrical wiring, and construction methods. Hands-on experience with power tools, solar panels, inverters and other PV components is essential (Source).

Strong troubleshooting and analytical thinking abilities allow solar techs to identify and resolve system issues. Attention to detail is also important when handling electrical connections and adhering to installation instructions (Source).

In addition to technical aptitude, solar installers need effective communication and customer service skills. They frequently interact with clients and coworkers to discuss system requirements, provide status updates, and address concerns (Source).

Most entry-level solar technician jobs require a high school diploma and basic electrical knowledge. Voluntary certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) demonstrates a commitment to the profession (Source). Many employers provide on-the-job training as well.

Working conditions

Solar installation technicians primarily work outdoors at the job site where solar panels are being installed. They often have to work on rooftops, which requires being comfortable with heights and taking proper safety precautions like wearing harnesses and ropes1. The nature of the job also involves working in hot conditions when on rooftops or other areas exposed to direct sunlight. Proper precautions need to be taken to avoid heat exhaustion and stay hydrated. Solar technicians must be prepared to work outdoors in varying weather conditions as well, while following safety protocols at all times.

Career advancement

Solar installation technicians have several potential career advancement opportunities as they gain more experience. According to BLS, PV installers may advance to become a lead installer, supervisor, or project manager. Lead installers and supervisors oversee crews and ensure installations are completed properly and efficiently. As a project manager, solar technicians can coordinate and manage entire solar installation projects. More experienced technicians may also start their own solar installation business as an entrepreneur.

Faraday Careers notes some common mid-level solar technician positions that allow for career growth include solar installation lead, solar electrician, solar sales specialist, maintenance technician, and solar technician II. With additional certifications, training, and leadership experience, technicians can continue advancing to roles like crew foreman, operations manager, and director of operations.

Job outlook and growth

The job outlook for solar installation technicians is very strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of solar PV installers is projected to grow 52% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 5,600 openings for solar PV installers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Growth is expected to be driven by several factors, including declining costs of solar PV systems, federal tax credits, state-level policies, and the increased adoption of renewable energy. As solar energy becomes more cost competitive with conventional sources of power, more homes and businesses are choosing to install solar panels.

In addition, many state governments have set renewable portfolio standards which require electric utilities to get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. These policies are expected to further boost the demand for solar PV installation.

Salary and Benefits

Solar installation technicians generally earn competitive salaries and benefits. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for solar installers was $46,470 as of 2020. The lowest 10% earned less than $30,460, while the top 10% earned over $80,020 per year.

The pay scale for solar technicians depends on factors like geographic location, level of experience, certifications held, and the size/type of employer. Technicians working for large solar companies or utilities tend to earn higher wages than those working for smaller contractors. Overtime pay is also common in this field.

Most solar installation companies offer health insurance and retirement plans like 401(k)s with matching employer contributions. Paid time off, tuition reimbursement, and performance bonuses may also be included as part of a competitive compensation package. Experienced technicians who obtain advanced certifications can increase their earning potential over the course of their career.

Education and training

There are a few common educational paths to becoming a solar installation technician:

Technical schools offer solar training programs that provide hands-on skills for designing, installing, and maintaining solar panels. Many focus specifically on photovoltaic (PV) system installation. For example, the Solar Energy International training program includes a 72-hour PV design and installation course.

Apprenticeships allow you to gain paid on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced solar installers. Apprenticeships typically last 3-4 years. Some examples are the IBEW Electrical Apprenticeship program and the SEIA Solar Apprenticeship Program.

Earning PV installer certifications demonstrates your solar proficiency. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers the most widely recognized certification. Some states also require licensure.


In summary, solar installation technicians play a critical role in the renewable energy industry. Their job involves installing, maintaining, and repairing solar panel systems for residential and commercial settings. While the work can be physically demanding and require working outside in various weather conditions, it offers the reward of promoting clean energy and fighting climate change. The job outlook for solar technicians is strong as demand for solar power rises. With the right combination of technical skills, physical ability, and on-the-job training, solar installation can be a promising and meaningful career path. The renewable energy transition and push toward sustainability will continue creating abundant opportunities for qualified solar techs.

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