The solar photovoltaic (PV) energy industry has made tremendous progress in the past few years, gaining global popularity and becoming one of the safest modes of renewable energy in use today. In the US, as of 2019, more than 2 million households have installed solar power systems. In Australia, more than 20% of homes have solar PV systems.

However, it is not just because of its cost-effectiveness that has propelled the growth of solar energy, many people are also increasingly becoming environmentally conscious and moving towards renewable energy as their primary source of energy.

This growth of the solar energy industry has also propelled new job opportunities around the world that, a few years ago would have been inconceivable.

Investment in the solar energy industry

The solar energy industry has been a decades-old story in the making, with the earliest commercial use of the technology coming from the space industry in the 1950s. Vanguard 1, a spacecraft using solar power as its primary energy source, was launched into space. The spacecraft was powered by solar cells and to date, the spacecraft has logged more than 6 billion miles highlighting the effectiveness of solar energy.

Decades of research and development, investment and the need for a much cleaner energy source created the current solar energy industry.

Today, solar is the cheapest and the most abundant source of energy in the world. To tap into its power, multiple manufacturers now offer solar panels, which can reach efficiencies of over 20 percent. Solar panels have also become cheaper for homeowners, and many governments subsidize their installation.

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Career opportunities in the Solar energy sector

Scientific researchers

Career Opportunities in Solar Energy
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The solar PV industry has experienced spectacular growth since the mid 2000’s. Its popularity has also continued to grow as people look for safer and cleaner energy sources that are environmentally friendly and reliable. The cost of using solar energy as a source of power has also continued to fall, hence becoming an attractive source of energy.

To achieve this, research and development work has contributed immensely to making solar power systems cost-effective, boosting efficiency and reliability, and making them easier and safer to install.

Thousands of people are employed in the field of solar energy as scientists and mostly work in laboratories, solar energy manufacturing plants and offices. These scientists also collaborate with other field specialists such as engineers and processing specialists who help in ensuring that solar energy systems are optimized and cost-effective.

Sales and marketing

Sales and marketing in olar Energy
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The solar energy industry is a huge business with products that require marketing, advertising and shipment to the final consumers.

Salespeople are responsible, working with systems designers, for determining the types of solar systems that are needed in a region or a property. They are also required to train consumers on the importance of solar power and why they should invest in a solar PV system. They also coordinate with different agencies such as marketing to push products and find new markets for
solar energy products.

Marketers are needed to promote solar power products and are tasked with press releases, ensuring that companies have an internet presence such as social media platforms and websites, creating informational videos about the product, running digital and mass media advertisements and writing blog posts about the solar energy industry.

System designers

System designers of a Solar System
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A solar designer selects the components that will be incorporated in a solar system, and determines the orientation and location of the panels to maximize energy production. For larger systems system designs may be complex, requiring a good understanding of electrical engineering.

With new products continually coming into the marketplace, system designers need to stay abreast of technical developments, whilst also ensuring that their designs are cost-competitive and reliable.

Solar panels installers

Solar panels installers
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These are the people tasked with solar panel installation on clients’ roofs, private properties, commercial properties or solar farms, and ensure that the solar panels are running as required. They may also offer maintenance services and troubleshoot any problem that may arise from the solar power system installed in an establishment.

Solar panel installers can work as either self-employed or employed by solar panel sellers, where they are required to install solar panels for clients who make a purchase. There are also solar installation companies that specialize in helping clients get their solar power systems up and running after purchase.

Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate the field is expected to grow by more than 63 percent in the coming decade. Solar installers in the US were also found to be earning a median of $42,680 per year.

Solar energy electricians

Solar energy electricians

Solar energy electricians work directly with clients and are responsible for planning, installing, and maintaining an electric system that is connected to the solar power system.

They are also tasked with repairing, rewiring, electrical equipment installations, fixing broken powerlines in a house and testing the solar power electrical system to ensure that it is working properly.

To become a solar power electrician, one needs to have certification in the field. Having prior experience in the field of electronics and electrical circuitry can also come in handy for electricians looking to break into the world of solar energy.

Solar power engineers

Solar power engineers

Solar power engineering is a multidisciplinary field that combines material engineers, chemical engineers, industrial engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, software developers and engineering technicians to come up with new solar power systems.

They are tasked with applying scientific principles and math to develop solutions to technical problems in solar systems. They are able to develop, design, test and integrate new solar equipment that are cost-effective, reliable and safe.

Solar power engineers work directly with solar equipment manufacturers who are able to provide requirements on the type of products and equipment needed in the market.

Solar power manufacturing

Solar power manufacturing
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Solar power manufacturers are the workers who are responsible for putting the solar panels together.

The solar manufacturing industry focuses on three technologies that are widely used as renewable energy: concentrating solar power (CSP), photovoltaic solar power, and solar water heating. However, the most common solar energy usage is solar PV.

The solar power manufacturing industry is also a multidisciplinary field that combines multiple fields of study such as electrical circuitry of solar systems, semiconductor processor experts, welding and soldering experts, glaziers, electronics and electrical engineers, industrial production managers and computer-controlled machine tool operators. All these workers coordinate with each other to come up with efficient solar systems for household usage.

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