Solar power is a rapidly growing industry and may offer veterans a number of civilian job opportunities. Veterans with experience in electrical systems, plumbing, engineering, and as installers and repairers may find opportunities in solar energy. Below are just a few of the many opportunities for veterans.
|Job Title||Median Wage (2016)*||Job Growth (2016-2026)*||Applicable Military Skills/Traits|
|Solar Photovoltaic Installers||$39,240||105%||Experience with install and repair of electrical and electronic parts|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$68,910||11%||Work with sampling, data, and analysis|
|Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers||$55,920||1%||Experience with set-up, install, and repair of communications, networks, and systems|
|Materials Engineers||$93,310||2%||Research experience with a variety of materials, testing equipment, and laboratory procedures|
|Electricians||$52,720||9%||Experience in construction and repair, wire, and parts|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Solar Energy Careers for Veterans
For veterans looking for a fast-growing industry in which to make their mark, solar energy may be a good choice. As the industry expands, there are positions for veterans with a wide variety of skill sets. And this field does not simply consist of installers and sales staff. There are also positions for scientists and engineers working to create better solar panels and batteries, as well as environmental researchers who are gathering data to continue making the case for solar in the public debate. There are a number of jobs in which veterans' active duty experience may benefit them in entering this field.
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Veterans with experience installing and repairing electrical parts may find this a good career choice, as well as those involved in construction who have some electrical experience. Military experience including safety training, first aid, and documentation procedures for accounting for tasks and materials, can be an advantage for veterans.
Also known as PV installers, solar photovoltaic installers work with solar equipment, such as panels and arrays, as well as the wiring and switches that are part of the assembly. They install and repair panels for power generation facilities, commercial buildings, residential homes, and for infrastructure such as panels for lights in remote areas. A specific degree is not required, but relevant experience and/or on-the-job training may be necessary.
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Those whose active duty jobs were in laboratories, inspection, research, or analysis may find that this experience is a good start for seeking a career in environmental sciences and specialties. Safety training for handling volatile or hazardous substances may give veterans an advantage over other job seekers.
In this career, scientists and specialists monitor the environment, taking samples, performing tests and conducting analysis to come to actionable conclusions. In the solar energy industry, they often conduct the tests and analysis to determine the effectiveness of solar energy, or to determine the correct locations to install solar facilities. Many positions may involve work in the field, while others may specialize in laboratory settings and analysis. This category also includes those who are responsible for environmental clean-up from spills or highly contaminated environments. This can require special training and certifications. For most of the careers in this field, a bachelor's degree is required.
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers
Veterans often have experience installing and repairing a variety of electrical systems, including telecommunications and networks. In addition, veterans are often faced with the unique challenge of performing these tasks in difficult circumstances or for combat support. The ability to install equipment to standards in tough situations, as well as conduct diagnostics and repair, may be regarded as a valuable skill set by civilian industry.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install, repair, and replace equipment for a variety of industries. These include telecommunications, power generation, transportation, and other industries. Their skill set is similar to that required in the solar energy industry, particularly at the industrial level. This work can be physically demanding in many circumstances. Specific industry-specific courses are desirable, but most training occurs on the job.
Laboratory testing is good experience for those who intend to pursue a bachelor's degree and become materials engineers. Those who conduct testing in laboratory environments as active military may be comfortable in this career. Training in handling volatile and hazardous substances may be particularly valuable.
Materials engineers study and create materials, like plastics, metal alloys, ceramics, and nanomaterials. They search for new uses for common materials, and create new materials to solve problems. In the solar energy industry, these engineers search for new materials to use for photovoltaic cells and batteries, in particular.
Veterans with active duty experience as electricians may find the solar energy industry a good place to apply their skills. This is a rapidly growing industry which may provide opportunities for those who would have formerly found themselves restricted to more typical construction projects.
Electricians are trained to install and repair electrical systems for all types of purposes, such as lighting, devices, power, and communications.They are found in every industry, including transportation, communications, and of course, power generation. In the solar industry, they may find themselves best-suited for commercial projects where professional electrical experience is required. Electricians have to be licensed in most states, and apprenticeships or other training programs -- including those in the military -- can pave the way for those interested in this career.