Career Definition of a Solar Thermal Installer
Solar thermal installers are responsible for installing the systems that are designed to produce solar energy. Solar thermal systems produce heat by heating water. These systems can be installed on industrial buildings, homes or businesses. Their work involves determining the best placement for the equipment to ensure that it will receive adequate sunlight. They must be capable of installing the equipment on a number of surfaces, such as tile or gravel roofs. As part of the installation process they must seal the equipment to prevent leaks.
As part of their duties, solar thermal installers test the systems to ensure that they are working properly. Their work can also involve responding when systems aren't performing properly. They may provide system maintenance or repair systems for customers.
|Educational Requirements||High school diploma and on-the-job training or postsecondary certificate or associate's degree|
|Job Skills||Electrical skills, attention to detail, safety skills, physical fitness, good vision, customer service skills, analytical skills, mechanical skills|
|Median Salary (2016)*|| $39,240 (solar photovoltaic installers)
$36,890 (construction and related workers, all other)
|Job Outlook (2016-2026)*|| 105% (solar photovoltaic installers)
10% (construction and related workers, all other)
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
It's possible to become a solar thermal installer or technician with a high school diploma or GED and on-the-job training. While O*NET OnLine reports that 43% of those in this field meet this level of qualifications, 25% have completed some college studies and 11% have a bachelor's degree. Solar photovoltaic installers can also start their career with a high school diploma or GED and be trained once employed, but some complete apprenticeship programs. Programs in this field are offered by vocational schools and may help increase job prospects. Another option for those interested in this career is to gain experience as an electrician or electrician's helper.
Although employers do not have consistent formal training requirements for solar thermal installers at this time, formal training may be an asset for those seeking work. Programs in solar photovoltaic systems and solar thermal systems are available. It's also possible to complete a postsecondary certificate program that focuses on photovoltaic systems, business and technical sales, renewable energy applications, or to earn qualifications as a solar professionals trainer. These programs can help prepare individuals to pass the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification exam.
Solar thermal installers work with electrical equipment and they benefit from having mechanical and electrical skills to identify problems and correct malfunctions. They need to be strong and flexible to lift equipment. Their work also requires physical endurance since they perform physical labor and need to be capable of climbing and lifting throughout their day. Analytical skills are important so that they can effectively develop strategies to address installation or performance issues with the equipment. Since solar thermal installers may need to explain technical issues to customers or communicate with them about the installation process they need to have excellent customer service skills.
Career Outlook and Salary
Solar thermal installers are grouped with solar photovoltaic installers or 'construction and related workers, all other' by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professionals in these fields earn comparable incomes. The BLS reported that in 2016 the median annual income for solar photovoltaic installers was $39,240 while the median annual income for 'construction and related workers, all other' was $36,890 in the same year. The BLS reports expectations that job growth for 'construction and related workers, all other' will be 10% from 2016 to 2026. Solar photovoltaic installers are expected to see a significantly higher job growth rate of 105% during the same timeframe.
There are a number of other careers that are comparable to solar thermal installers because they involve similar skills or training requirements. Information about similar career options, such as wind turbine service technicians, residential HVAC technicians and electricians, is available via the links listed below.