Solar Technical Training

The sun is just beginning to rise on the job market for men and women who choose solar technical training. Includes a list of comprehensive training programs for solar training programs.

| July/August 1985

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    Dr. Greg Olsen instructs Southwestern Technical College students in techniques of greenhouse retrofit. The students spend about 30% of their time doing actual construction work, such as on this greenhouse that's being added to the Big Y Community Club in Cherokee, North Carolina. The Save the Children Foundation supplied money for materials, and the project is coordinated by Sequoyah Driver (Big Y Chairman) and Dean Suagee (Energy Planner for the Eastern Bank of the Cherokee Indians Tribal Renewable Energy Assistance and Planning Program).
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    Students in the Colorado Mountain College solar retrofit program—an intensive one year course of study—are installing a solar hot-air system on a home in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

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Solar technical training may lead to a job that makes a real difference. 

Would you rather be working at a job you can believe in . . . one in a field that's as sure to grow as fossil fuels are sure to be depleted . . . one that makes a difference? Maybe you should consider attending solar technical training to become a solar/renewable energy technician, a professional who installs, maintains, operates, and tests renewable energy systems and performs energy audits. But how does one learn the skills needed to do such a job or to prove his or her qualifications to potential employers and customers?

Chances are, there's a technical school or college in your region that can teach you what you need to know to get started. Across the country, such institutions are responding to the demand for qualified solar technicians by developing comprehensive training programs. In fact, the cry for competent solar practitioners is so strong that, in many cases, today's students of solar technology already have job offers when they graduate.

The entries that follow this introduction summarize the programs offered by a sampling of schools around the U.S. But before you pick one, you need to make a basic decision: How far do you intend to go with your solar education?

You'll notice that the listings are divided between training programs and two-year associate degree programs. Training programs, which provide a certificate of completion, are shorter, but they also tend to be more trade and less theory-oriented. For example, a two-year associate degree program might include courses in math and science to broaden your understanding of the principles of energy. What's more, that degree program will probably require that you take general education courses (English, for example), as well as the specifically career-related curriculum.

A training program may be more focused upon giving you the job skills needed to get started in the solar field. It will teach you what you need to know (and give you a certificate saying you've had the training) quickly. However, if you have the time to devote to a two-year degree, there are certain advantages to doing so. First of all, though this may sound obvious, a certificate isn't a degree. Consider what that means. A degree from an accredited college—with transcripts of courses and grades available for an employer's review—is a much stronger qualification to advance to (or even start at) a position beyond installation. Do you imagine yourself designing solar energy systems or managing teams of installers? If so, a degree could be helpful. Then too, if you ever decide to pursue a higher degree—perhaps solar engineering at Jordan Energy Institute, Trinity University, or some other four-year college—a two-year associate degree can be applied directly to the requirements for the more advanced training. Getting credit for certificate courses will be much more difficult.

WebFrootz LLC
1/19/2012 6:25:36 PM

Great program for someone who is looking to get an associate degree in this area. But there are also multiple specialized solar training companies that provide hands-on training during 5-6 days of intense studies and practical work. We personally have had a great experience with Philadelphia-based Infinite Solar, but I am sure there are others, especially on the West coast.

Solar Sales
5/2/2009 2:41:21 PM

I received my solar sales training from They provided just the technical information I needed to do a solar needs assessment, how to create a solar estimate in 15 minutes, how to explain solar cost justification, how to do a killer solar presentation to the buyer and how to handle common solar objections. If you’re a salesperson that doesn’t climb ladders, delivers a process that lets me spend the majority of your time at the kitchen table asking questions and selling the value of solar. NABCEP Certification was good if I wanted to signoff on installations, but I wanted to know what to talk about and present when I met with a buyer. It couldn’t find a solar training program that had instructors with sales, marketing and business development coaching backgrounds that could present the content within the context of the NLP Sales Model. Best of all, they offer a money-back guarantee.

1/26/2009 11:23:24 AM

HeatSpring Learning Institute will be holding a 3 day solar training in the Boston MA area at the end of March. The solar training will focus on photovaltaic (pv) electric solar systems. More information can be found here: HeatSpring solar training boston ma

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