Training in Solar Technology Promises a Bright Future
As the application of alternative energy becomes more popular, those with training in solar technology can look forward to a bright and promising career in this growing job market.
Various educational pathways are available to those interested in solar technology, including short-term certificates, associate’s degrees, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Training in solar technology can also be paired with other degrees and experiences to expand career possibilities.
Solar technology typical refers to the application of photovoltaic technology, which uses a device to produces free electrons when exposed to light. The free electrons then create an electrical current. Many training programs also include solar thermal training. A solar thermal system is one that captures solar energy and converts it into heat that could be used to power a furnace or other heating device.
With a one-year certificate in solar technology, a student can find employment installing solar panels on homes and other buildings. He or she may also do work in solar design, testing solar products, research and development of solar products, service, maintenance and installation assignments.
With an associate’s degree in solar technology, the student may attain employment similar to those with a short-term certificate, but will generally have more responsibility and earn a higher wage. Those working in the field with a short-term certificate or an associate’s degree typically earn about $12-20 per hour.
Core courses for an associate’s degree in include technical mathematics, electrical circuits, green building systems and courses in solar thermal and solar voltaic systems. Additional courses include composition, problem solving and electronic devices. Solar technicians must also be well versed in the National Electric Code.
Those who wish to continue their education in solar technology may pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in solar technology or in sustainability or another business related field. Solar technology also pairs well with degrees in electrical engineering or power engineering. Students who earn a bachelor’s degree may work as a sustainability officer for a municipality or as a solar operations engineer, designing new solar power systems.
The growth of careers in the solar sector also presents a unique opportunity for professionals who are prepared to transition from careers in more mature or declining areas of energy technology. By building on their existing knowledge, these professionals can expand their skill set to include solar technology by adding a short-term certificate or an associate’s degree in solar technology. Men and women who currently work as electricians or for electric companies may be interested in adding solar power training to their resume in order to expand their job opportunities.
Careers related to solar power are springing up around the world. The highest demand is in warmer climates, such as the southern and western parts of the United States, which received direct sunlight year round. In regions with fewer direct sunlight hours throughout the year, a student may be wise to combine solar technology training with another alternative energy subject. In Northeast Ohio, students can benefit from training in both solar technology and wind turbine technology. With a dual specialization, students may be able to find employment working on solar systems during the summer months and work installing and repairing wind turbines during the colder, cloudier months of the year.
For students interested in alternative energy or seasoned professionals in a related field, training in solar technology can lay the groundwork for a promising career.
Lorain County Community College offers a one-year technical certificate and an associate of applied science degree in Alternative Energy – Solar Technology. Courses include photo voltaic systems, technical mathematics, National Electric Code, instrumentation and control, and more.
Duncan Estep is program coordinator for the Solar Technology and Wind Turbine programs at Lorain County Community College. Estep may be reached at (440) 366-7016 or at email@example.com.