Unveiling the Renewable Energy Industry: Career Insights

Multi-level house with solar panel system installed on different roof pitches

The solar energy industry has grown over the last century, and more rapidly in the last decade. More homeowners, businesses, and communities are seeing the benefits of renewable energy on the environment, technology, and employment opportunities.  


Employment in the solar energy industry has been growing in the United States over the past few decades, and with new federal policies, regional electrification goals, and clear environmental impacts – this will only continue.

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Four Key Benefits of Working in Solar

1. Job Stability and Growth

Renewable energy provides about 20% of the United States’ electricity with wind, water, and solar. For the past four years, solar energy has been the largest contributor of new added capacity – 36% in 2019, 41% in 2020, 43% in 2021, and 46% in 2022, with massive contributions already attributed in the first quarter of 2023 (54%). While it is not the largest generation source (hydropower and wind power are still leading by about 405 billion kWh), the increasing growth rate indicates solar is on its way to leading the renewable resource industry.  


According to SEIA, the solar industry has experienced an average annual growth rate of 24% over the past decade. This has been in big part due to the cost of solar falling by 50% over the last decade, and government incentives helping to reduce the cost of residential systems further, and growing interest in cleaner and more resilient energy among consumers. The residential solar market has experienced six years of consecutive record growth, growing by 40% from 2021 to 2022.  


The Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law in August 2022, is the largest renewable energy bill in United States history. This bill directs $369 billion towards renewable energy solutions and environmental justice initiatives and is expected to have huge workforce implications. According to an analysis conducted by the BlueGreen Alliance, the IRA will result in 9 million green jobs over the next decade, with 5 million direct and indirect renewable energy jobs, and 1.7 million jobs directly related to solar, wind, and other renewable energy installation, operations, and maintenance jobs.  


Many of these job opportunities will exist in trades roles. Solar Installers are one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, expected to grow by 27% between 2021 – 2031, compared to the average occupational growth rate of 7-8% over the same time. In addition, electricians are in high demand as the country moves towards electrification. With more electricians retiring each year than being replaced, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that across all industries, including solar, we will need to hire 80,000 electricians per year until 2031 to backfill retirements and exits. 


With federal and state incentives, and government electrification goals, the career opportunities in solar energy and other renewable sectors are fast growing and numerous.

2. Industry Innovation and Advancements

With several areas for advancement in the field, more opportunities for employment and job security will continue to appear. Renewable energy resources are continuing to improve. Solar scientists are constantly working towards researching and developing solar modules that are more efficient, affordable, and sustainable. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has scientists dedicated to improving the capabilities of solar panels and other renewable energy projects. 


Solar panel technology has improved in several ways over the last decade, efficiency has grown from 17-18% in 2017 to 20-23%. Using advanced cell structures and ideal environments, researchers have built a solar panel that produces energy at 47.1% efficiency. For now, the materials used to convert sunlight into electricity at this capacity are too expensive to be widely distributed, but progress is persistent. 

Neutral exterior home with large solar panel system on roof, surrounded by trees and baby blue sky above
3. Sustainability and Environmental Impact

Working in the renewable energy industry allows personal contribution to environmental impact, knowing the climate is becoming more sustainable. 60% of the United States current electricity generation is not sustainable, as it relies on burning traditional fossil fuels. As renewable energy sources grow through technological advancements, the environmental benefits like cleaner air, cleaner water, and a cleaner planet increase, and the world becomes a more sustainable place through reliance on the most abundant resource available: the sun.  


In the United States, solar energy has effectively reduced over 130 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year. This is equivalent to closing 34 coal-fired power plants annually. Not to mention the savings on utilities consumers will experience.

4. Global Influence and Importance

The impact of renewable energy employment is worldwide and expands across industries, with opportunities to innovate, expand, and provide renewable energy options. For example, the GivePower Foundation is a nonprofit that uses volunteers, donations, and the sun to bring access to clean water. They have provided relief during natural disasters, electricity to schools in rural locations, and several water desalination plants through the deployment of and reliance on solar energy. 


The influence global energy independence and security can have around the world is immeasurable. Every person who works in renewable energy plays a part in global empowerment through their individual efforts to further the processes and bring sustainable energy to more people. 


Salary and job opportunities are highly dependent on your location. Specialization in solar may exclude you from other renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal, hydroelectricity, and others. 

A young woman and young man, sitting at a conference table during a meeting

Looking for a Career in Renewable Energy?

Solar energy is becoming more accessible as an energy resource, but also as an occupation. From solar sales to installers to manufacturers to product developers, there are many career paths available. 


Like most advanced technology fields, product research and development teams who are focused on improving solar panels and efficiency will need to obtain proper education and training in mechanical, electrical, environmental, and chemical engineering, or another related field.  


People interested in trades roles such as installers and electricians will require a combination of classroom and on-the-job training through short term training programs and even apprenticeships. The solar industry offers opportunities for candidates with a variety of educational backgrounds ranging from high school diplomas, trades schools – all the way up to advanced graduate degrees. This range of opportunities creates a career landscape that is equitable and accessible for candidates of all backgrounds.  


It can be daunting to navigate all the opportunities, but a resource we love is the IREC Solar Career Map. Here you can explore different career pathways to see what might interest you. For an added boost, check out Heatspring’s free Solar Career Pathways course, which includes a walkthrough of the Solar Career Map, and testimonials from professionals across the solar industry on their roles, training, and the benefits of a career in solar. Heatspring and Solar Energy International also offer additional free introductory courses on renewable energy that can help you learn the fundamentals to decide if a career in solar is right for you.

Become a Solar Expert

At Blue Raven Solar, learn the ins and outs of solar energy. We believe every solar role is critical to changing homeowners’ lives, giving back, and contributing to a cleaner energy future – worldwide. From there, career development is not only an option, but also a priority. With our mission and values at the forefront of our operations, we hope all our team members develop high-trust relationships, prioritize efficiency, and become go-getters.  


Blue Raven Solar is proud to be leading the movement! Join our team today and kickstart your career.

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