U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Solar Educational Resources for Entry-Level Job Seekers
The following education and training resources are targeted to college students and other professionals who are seeking entry-level positions in the solar industry.
Renewable Energy Training Catalog
Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) maintains a searchable database and map of renewable energy training courses, including solar, available from institutions and groups nationwide, including installer certification.
National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC)
The NJATC is the training arm for the organized electrical construction industry, providing training for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association. They provide training in PV as an extension of training provided for electrical workers.
Training Courses on the National Electric Code
NMSU's Southwest Technology Development Institute provides training courses in the National Electric Code. Visit its Web site for a schedule of upcoming courses.
College and University Courses and Contest
Many U.S. colleges and universities offer courses, associate degrees, and advanced degrees for solar energy and renewable energy technologies. The IREC Directory of University Courses in Renewable Energy provides a listing.
Other resources for finding college and university courses for solar energy technologies include the American Solar Energy Society, the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the American Council on Renewable Energy.
For college and university students, the Solar Decathlon is an international competition sponsored by DOE. The competition joins college and university teams to design, build, and operate the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The colleges and universities represented by the Solar Decathlon teams are required to develop a curriculum in solar energy.
The Solar Program funds the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), which provides a method of measuring the solar-specific knowledge of students and individuals new to the solar industry. After completing coursework offered by a registered NABCEP Photovoltaic (PV) Entry Level Exam Provider, a student is eligible to take the PV Entry Level Exam.
Passing the exam does not provide the student with a license or a certification, nor qualify the student to perform solar installations. However, passing the exam helps demonstrate to employers that applicants possess knowledge of the fundamental principles needed to design and install solar PV Systems.
The Solar Program also funds NABCEP to provide a voluntary, independent, and national certification for experienced professionals in the solar workforce.
Licensure and Certification for Solar Professionals
In addition to courses and training, the Solar Program promotes licensure and certification of solar professionals throughout the United States. Licensing and certification are important but different credentials, so it is important to consider both when becoming a qualified installation contractor.