Solar Thermal Installers and Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

For technical positions in the solar energy industry, be sure to take classes in computer science, mathematics, physics, and shop. It also helps to have basic knowledge of chemistry, earth science, environmental science, physics, and related classes. Business and accounting classes are useful for advancing to supervisory and management roles. Communication skills and the ability to use computers are key to success for all workers in the solar energy industry, so be sure to include English, speech, and computer science classes.

Postsecondary Education

Solar thermal installers and technicians who have an associate's or bachelor's degree have improved job prospects. Many installers have a background in the construction industry or experience working as electricians. Courses in solar installation are offered by professional associations, trade schools, apprenticeship programs, and photovoltaic module manufacturers. Installers might also learn skills in roofing and plumbing in order to master all the skills needed to complete an installation. They receive on-the-job training or participate in apprenticeship programs. A growing number of colleges offer education and certification programs in renewable energy. Find information at and

The Solar Living Institute, a nonprofit organization, offers solar training via online and traditional courses. Visit its Web site,, for more information. Also, many large solar energy equipment manufacturers offer training and certification programs.

Other Education or Training

The American Solar Energy Society, Solar Electric Power Alliance, Solar Energy Industries Association, and The Solar Foundation offer continuing education (CE) opportunities via webinars, classes, and conference workshops. The Interstate Renewable Energy Council and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association also provide professional development opportunities. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Many solar installers and technicians are licensed as general contractors. They can also receive voluntary certification from the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP). The Electronics Technicians Association offers three career-track certification pathways in renewable energy technology: installer, integrator, and maintainer. Many technicians choose to become certified by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. To become certified, a technician must have a specific amount of job-related experience. 

The Solar Energy Industries Alliance reports that “12 states and Puerto Rico require solar-specific licenses in order to engage in solar work. Generally, a solar certification is a specialty area for a general electrical or plumbing license; therefore, a contractor with a general license may engage in solar work.” Those who are employed in positions that may affect the power grid must be certified by the North American Energy Reliability Corporation.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Solar thermal installers and technicians usually participate in an apprenticeship and receive on-the-job training. Most employers prefer to hire installers and technicians with at least two or more years of work experience. Installers and technicians should have good customer service skills, the ability to use hand-held and power tools, and strong technical skills. They should also be attentive to detail, not be afraid of working at heights, and be able to lift solar panels that weigh between 30 and 40 pounds and batteries that can weigh 60 to 80 pounds. Good organizational, communication, and time-management skills and the ability to work independently and as a member of a team when necessary are also important in this job.