If solar companies had retail display windows, you would likely be seeing many of them displaying signs like this nowadays, and for good reason. The solar industry continues to boom, making solar one of the most attractive prospects for the tech-minded job seeker in 2014.
The National Solar Job Census 2013, a report released earlier this year by The Solar Foundation, reveals steady and impressive job growth within the industry. According to the report, the solar industry is hiring at a rate 10 times the U.S. average. The organization predicts a 15.4 percent increase in hiring for solar-related jobs throughout 2014 — a whopping amount compared to the 1.4 percent increase projected for the U.S. economy in general.
What are the hottest jobs in solar?
“As has been long-predicted, because solar project costs have dropped so dramatically in recent years, the industry added the largest number of jobs in installation,” writes Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com.
However, not all solar jobs require scaling rooftops. “The solar industry supports hundreds of thousands of indirect and induced jobs,” according to the report. These include jobs in project development, sales, communications, manufacturing, academia, government and other areas.
Solar job growth remains a regional phenomenon
Despite the overall upward trend, solar job seekers unwilling to consider relocation may not have much success, unless they already live in a region with a strong solar economy.
“Demand for solar installations in a handful of states continues to drive overall employment growth in the U.S. solar industry. California, Arizona, New Jersey and Massachusetts accounted for nearly 50 percent of the 142,689 U.S. solar industry jobs as of November 2013,” comments solar industry blogger Garrett Hering in a February 2014 post on Solarenergy.net.
Hering points out that despite the strong overall growth in solar jobs, some states — including Arizona — actually lost solar jobs last year. Analysis in The Solar Foundation’s Arizona Jobs Census 2013 report reveals that this may have been due to a variety of factors, including the completion of a large utility-scale solar plant in the state, a saturated residential solar market, the decline of several international solar companies and, significantly, a reduction in state incentives for solar.
Future trends for solar jobs
The current uneven distribution of solar job opportunities is ripe for change, however. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by up to 30 percent of 2005 levels could quickly ramp up demand across the nation if and when it goes into effect next summer. Even if it doesn’t, all signs point to the solar industry continuing its strong upward trajectory — so there is every reason to expect the solar industry to continue to provide a haven for job seekers in 2015 and beyond.