With steady advances in technology, solar energy has at last become an economically viable option to integrate into our economic infrastructure. The industry not only promotes environmental responsibility, but also creates domestic investment, job growth and global influence. Impressively, the Solar Industry has steadily increased since 2009, while many other forms of industry were burdened by the Great Recession. This “niche” market, as it has been dully called, has become a great underdog of economic stabilization although it is looking to take its rightful place as a suitable candidate. With solar installations increasing in value by approximately $3 billion a year since 2010, this industry is one of the last limited education vocations in need of skilled hands. Read the rest of this entry »
The 2012 third annual National Solar Jobs Census reported that U.S. solar industry employed close to 120,000 people. In the last year, the employment in the industry grew by 13.2%. By 2030, according to the DOE SunShot Vision Study, the solar industry will create 290,000 new solar jobs.
“I see electricians going into the solar market, structural steel companies going into constructing solar mounting systems,” said Avi Yashchin, CEO of CleanEdison, Inc., the nation’s largest clean-tech training provider, in an interview with Bloomberg.
To support this growth, the industry will need skilled professionals. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created a Solar Career Map to help individual’s locate career opportunities in their area.
Professional Training and Certification
There are three major types of solar workforce training and education currently offered in the U.S.:
Entry-level Solar Training- the most prevalent type of training is offered by hundreds of organizations from colleges to vocational schools. Many of them are registered with North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) and use its Entry-Level Learning Objectives.
Advanced Solar Training – targeted to specific jobs, for example installers, or sales professionals, or maintenance personnel. Typically, these people already work in the field and want career advancement.
Continuing Education - for on-going professional development to stay up-to-date with new equipment, installation or sales tools, codes and standards. A lot of this type of classes are sponsored by vendors and manufacturers.Even professionals who are very experienced in other areas of building industry, but not in solar, will benefit from training. The cost of mistakes is high.
Where are the Green Jobs?
CleanEdison research indicates that nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy by the end of 2020.
When we look at job creation and industry growth in areas such as energy efficiency, solar energy, and smart grid technology, we see tremendous growth potential. We estimate that by the end of 2020, nearly 1 million people will be employed in these sectors and nearly 3 million people will be employed in the green economy as a whole.
As Seen in Bloomberg News
2013 – Jobs and the Green Economy
Significant unemployment and underemployment in the United States has been the focus of the nation’s political discourse since 2009. Unfortunately, with traditional sectors struggling, both experienced workers and unemployed individuals are finding it difficult to find work. The truth is that traditional industries such as construction, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and engineering are in an extremely favorable position to be re-trained for green jobs. However, often times, those in the construction and trades sectors are completely unaware of the projected impacts of energy efficiency and renewable energy. More important still, they lack the knowledge that their current skills are particularly prime for filling the positions the green economy is creating. In addition, opportunities exist for the low-skilled workforce in areas such as building material reuse and deconstruction.
CleanEdison is looking for a bright, young scholar to write a 750 word essay on the growth of the clean energy and energy efficiency sectors, the effects this will have on job creation and the need for skills training to meet this demand. The essays will be evaluated on the quality of writing and depth of research on the topic. The winning essay will be show-cased on CleanEdison’s website for one year and the student will receive a $500 scholarship.
Essay Length – 750 words
Due Date – April 1st, 2013
Scholarship Amount – $500
Please submit entries to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Energy Auditing is the Best Small Business to Start”
Nearly one million people are currently employed as energy auditors, and that number is only going up. Thanks to an increased awareness of the importance of efficient energy practices, people at all income levels across the country are seeking services of a qualified energy auditor to help them re-fit their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. Qualifications include a BPI Certification, which is generally used for existing residential homes, and/or a HERS Rater Certification, which is focused on new construction
Once you’ve decided to implement solar energy alternatives at your residence or place of business, the next logical step is to choose a reliable solar installer. But how do you find the solar installer that’s right for you? Selecting any installer online or in the Yellow Pages isn’t always the smartest choice. Here are a few tips to find the best solar installers in your area:
- Look for the Right Credentials: A solar installer should be certified by the NABCEP, the most respected national standard certification program in the solar industry at the moment. There are two NABCEP certifications: an entry level and a full professional installer certification, so be sure to look for the latter. This will guarantee that your installer also has at least two years of hands-on experience in the field. Checking with the Better Business Bureau is always a good choice as well.
- Look for the Right Experience: If an installer doesn’t have the NABCEP certification, make sure they have several years of hands-on experience and come with good recommendations in-tow. Look for training experience as well; though you should keep in mind that many of the formal degree and training programs in the field are fairly new. Keep in mind that while traditional electricians are experienced with standard electrical systems, this does not mean they are capable of a full PV installation.
- Look Closely at Warranties/Compare Quotes: Explore the warranties surrounding the parts installers use. This will give you information about when you will need to replace parts and overall costs for the system. Remember that low prices may not always be the best choice in the long run, as you’ll want your system to last a long time in order to have the largest return on investment. Compare quotes from several different companies and use your intellect and instincts to determine which is the best fit for you!
In short, do your research and trust your instincts. If a company offers the lowest rates in town, make sure their service is up-to-par as well. Do you have any other tips for choosing a reliable solar installer? We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments!
Green jobs do exist, but perhaps not on the scale that certain outlets had predicted. One thing that remains true about green job creation is that green jobs tend to thrive when local, state, and federal incentives exist to support those jobs. Green professional development is also a huge proponent of sustainable job creation, and programs that help the unemployed succeed as green building professionals are at the forefront of growth in the green job arena. Green job programs tend to do best when they include financial assistance for green building certification courses, such as LEED certification, BPI certification, solar PV installer certification, or lead renovator certification.
When public initiatives spur green job development, the climate for those who pursue green building certification improves. Public support of green building projects makes those projects easier to launch and faster to complete, and the more sustainable building projects that exist, the greater the need for trained and credential green building professionals. You can become a green building professional when you obtain certification in BPI, LEED, or any renewable energy training program. If you are looking for a sustainable career, then the green building industry is a great place to start.
Now would be a great time to start researching what programs exist in your state and in your community for green job development. You may be surprised to learn that there is significant demand for solar panels in your neighborhood, or that there is a high concentration of commercial facilities that are grappling with soaring energy bills. The skills you obtain from a green certification course will enable you to face clients in your area and provide them with energy improvements that impact their budgets in a positive way. Green jobs are out there; the key to getting those jobs is making yourself competitive as a green building professional.
It does not take a financial analyst to see that formerly lucrative industries such as the automobile industry have fallen into disrepair. As investment shifts from industries that were seen as infallible and moves toward sustainable industries that promise continued returns on investment and job creation, so does the popular opinion about trades that may have previously been considered impractical and unnecessary. Nowadays, the building professional who can replace an incandescent light bulb with an energy efficiency LED bulb will find himself in higher demand than the person whose skill set reflects the values of previous generations. Thanks to research and development aimed at growing green industries, the climate for green building professionals has become friendlier. Now is the time to equip yourself with green building certification so that you can break into this ever-expanding industry.
As long as private and public investment goes toward renewable energy sources, clean technology, and green building projects, green jobs will stay in existence and hopefully increase in numbers and ease of entry. If you work as a contractor, carpenter, engineer, or designer, then you have already probably undergone a great deal of hands-on job training, making the transition into green jobs even easier for you. There are resources around the globe that make the shift into the green building industry a seamless one, including solar panel installation training courses, lead training courses, and specialized training for individuals who want to work as residential and commercial energy auditors.
Green job training represents a minute investment for many building professionals whose work has been impacted by changing federal regulations surrounding the building industry. For example, renovators who work in buildings constructed prior to 1978 must obtain lead safety certification or pay extremely costly fines for violating EPA rules. For others, green job training is an opportunity to create a sustainable revenue stream in addition to an existing career. Green jobs are the way of the future, and now is the time to get on board.
Making a case for the benefits of sustainable jobs can get a little tiring. Skeptics abound, people cite the bandwagon effect, and the continued profitability of conventional resources such as petroleum all serve to undermine the case for green job training. However, the increasingly friendly climate for renewable energy due in part to more private investment and greater returns points to a paradigm shift in ecological values that will hopefully boost the clean energy field and create more jobs for green building professionals. As long as individuals continue to invest in green building projects and organizations improve their standards for sustainable design, green jobs will continue to materialize and provide fulfilling careers for people who sincerely care about minimizing their impact on the environment.
There are numerous ways that experiences building professionals such as architects and engineers can break into the increasingly popular fields of sustainable design and green building. For example, a carpenter who has performed numerous home renovations can enhance her credentials with an EPA certification in lead safe working practices. Lead certification courses teach builders how to minimize the health risks associated with lead poisoning by engaging in careful and diligent containment and cleanup procedures when working around lead paint. Lead safe working practices, as mandated by the EPA, can help impede the occurrences of lead poisoning in adults and children, who can experience sever developmental issues when exposed to lead based paint.
Green job training aims to increase the relative value of industries that do not negatively impact the environment while providing cost competitive benefits to conventional energy sources. If you already consider yourself a building professional, then adding lead certification, BPI certification, solar cell installer certification, or energy auditor certification is an affordable way to update your credentials in response to changing attitudes toward careers in sustainable building and renewable energy.
If you have not sought certification as a building analyst or energy auditor, then now is the perfect time to enroll in an energy auditing course so you can get started working as a certified energy auditor. Even more reason to obtain your energy auditor or BPI certification is the passage of the North Carolina Energy Conservation Code, which sets regulations for minimum energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings. Now that North Carolina buildings have to meet these requirements, the demand for energy auditors who provide recommendations for building improvements should see an increase.
Hopefully this North Carolina law will help change the climate for green building practices. For North Carolina energy consumers, the law will reduce their energy costs considerably, while the energy auditors who will be more appealing to hire for energy improvement projects will see an influx of new customers, with the commercial building customers providing a large share of profits for building improvements. If you work in renovation or provide building retrofits, then you should certainly pursue an energy auditor certificate or BPI certification so you can work as a building analyst.
The energy conservation code is just one example of a state government interceding in building practices to make commercial and residential properties less expensive to operate and to set standards for energy efficiency in buildings. Building professionals with BPI certification and certified energy auditors position themselves well to take on more customers thanks to the eco-friendly climate created by legislation such as the energy conservation code.
BPI certification paves the way toward large-scale building improvement projects that promise higher returns on investment than private home energy improvement projects. The way to become BPI certified is to take an energy auditor training course so you can take and pass the BPI exam for building analysts.