What are the Top Jobs in the Solar Energy Industry?

Solar energy remains the future of renewable energy. As the fastest growing sector in the industry – increasingly being adopted by countries around the world – it’s also one of the most promising for work opportunities.

Research suggests that 40% of electricity in the US could be provided by solar energy alone by 2035 – highlighting the speed of growth and investment being poured into this vital renewable energy source.

According to the latest IRENA report, between 2020 and 2022 the amount of investment in renewable energy grew from $348 billion to $499 billion, an increase of around 43%. The bulk of this went to the solar industry, which not only raised the potential for progression but also the amount of jobs across the sector.

Obviously, this has made jobs in solar energy increasingly popular and competitive, for people either already working in energy or looking for a career change. Below we explore some of the top jobs in solar energy, what they entail and what you can expect in terms of pay and experience.

Which solar jobs pay the most?

Since solar is still a sector in relative infancy, it’s the ideal time to find solar power jobs. There’s huge potential for people with a range of skill sets – whether you’re an engineer, project manager or work in manufacturing or system design. 

As solar power generation becomes more important, the average salary for solar energy jobs is increasing rapidly. This means that on average, we’re seeing the following in the US: 

Solar manufacturing: This aspect of solar energy production focuses on producing the components for solar projects, utilising research and development, product innovation and optimisation. The median salary for solar manufacturing is: $70,500.

Solar system design: Solar system design is based around taking the right components and utilising them in an effective, cost effective way. Professionals in this industry will work to safety and performance targets while creating new and innovative ways of bringing components together. The median salary for solar system design is: $76,000.

Solar project management: Solar project management is the concept of taking the system design and implementing it – whether it’s on a small, residential scale or a large-scale national utility project. This may involve selling the system and ensuring it’s installed correctly, overseeing operators, engineers and technicians. The median salary for solar project development is: $74,000.

Solar installation and operation: Solar operation and installation covers the installation, optimisation and maintenance of solar power equipment out in the field. This may cover solar panel installers or solar engineers. While this is the lowest average salary out of the four, it is a more niche sector, meaning professionals with this skill set are in incredibly high demand. The median salary for solar installation and operation is: $52,000.

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What are the top jobs in solar energy?

If you’re looking for a specific role in the solar industry, you may want to know more about the highest-paying job titles and what they can offer:

7. Solar PV Installer

Salary: $47,000

If you like the idea of working in the field and using your hands, you may want to consider a role as a Solar Photovoltaic Installer. This role is integral to the implementation of solar energy generation, installing panels and other equipment. It requires a unique set of skills and often suits contractors or self-employed professionals, which can offer a better work life balance overall. 

6. Solar energy system designer

Salary: $67,000

The role of the energy system designer is to outline and execute systems that support a renewable energy project. Aside from manufacturing the systems, the designer also works with technicians and engineers to ensure it’s correctly implemented. Likewise, system designers have to be comfortable analysing existing systems and finding ways to improve or optimise where possible.

5. Solar energy technician

Salary: $72,000

Technicians typically focus on installing, repairing and maintaining solar energy equipment – whether it’s panels in a solar farm or machinery within a solar energy plant. The good part about this type of role is that demand heavily outweighs supply – meaning if you’re a technician in a different industry, this can be an easy career switch that earns you more money. In terms of ‘entry-level’ roles in solar, this is ideal if you’re already a technician in a similar field.

4. Solar energy software developer

Salary: $72,500

Unlike traditional energy sources, solar energy is dependent on software – particularly in terms of maintenance and further development. Generally, every piece of machinery and equipment used in solar power generation requires software to make it work. So, if you’d rather sit inside coding than outside tinkering with machinery, you can still make a huge impact in the world of solar energy through software development.

3. Solar energy specialist

Salary: $78,000

While it may sound more vague, the role of the solar energy specialist – sometimes referred to as a PV specialist – is to provide education around renewable energy and solar power in general. The specialist may directly liaise with customers or clients about solar products, solar energy rebates or seminars. The role is essentially being an advocate for solar energy and supporting early adoption.

2. Solar power plant operator

Salary: $83,000

There’s no point in capturing solar energy if it’s not being converted into power. Operators in a solar power plant are truly vital to maintaining output and professionals in the role may spend time running, monitoring or repairing the plant and all equipment within it. Often, operators will work as part of a much larger team, all with the common goal of maintaining efficient power generation.

1. Solar consultant

Salary: $96,000

The highest paying role in the solar industry is a solar consultant. Due to the nature of the role, solar consultants require exceptional knowledge around renewable energy, the ability to work with technical staff  and project management skills to ensure the whole process goes smoothly. For this type of role, the professional often requires some sort of specific qualification (such as engineering) and plenty of experience in the industry.

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