How to Get a Construction Job in Solar Energy
Whenever oil and gas prices spike like they have in the early months of 2022, renewable energy becomes a more frequent topic of conversation. Renewable Energy is also becoming an increasingly desirable industry to work in as technology advances.
Solar energy might be the most visible form of renewable energy in the United States. Since 2010, the solar industry has experienced an annual growth rate of 33% and the US currently produces the second most solar energy on the planet, The industry is growing and the technology is evolving.
Now would be an excellent time to start or switch to a career in solar construction. We spoke with Strategic Account Manager Michael Mulheron who has over 12 years of experience in helping renewable energy companies find quality workers. He provides advice on how workers can best find job opportunities in solar.
Know your transferable skills
Starting a career in solar construction often requires very little experience working in the renewable energy industry. Since many utility scale solar projects occur in remote areas with low populations — solar companies are usually willing to train nearby workers to ensure they have the staff necessary to complete their projects.
"Our clients do prefer some solar experience but it's rarely a requirement for entry-level opportunities. They're traditionally willing to invest in the development of our workers by teaching the skills they need to be successful," says Mulheron.
If you have experience in farming, roofing, framing, carpentry, general construction or landscaping, you likely have transferable skills that a solar company will see as a strong foundation for success.
Other transferable skills include being able to work outdoors in the elements, the ability to take direction, familiarity with basic hand tools and the ability to lift over 40 pounds.
Network with companies, recruiters and other professionals
With its breakneck growth rate, the renewable energy market needs talent. Use this to your advantage and reach out directly to recruiters with solar energy job opportunities or search our job board for the latest jobs in your area.
As COVID-19 concerns begin to wane, it's becoming easier and safer to network in person. Staffing companies often conduct job fairs or hiring events to connect with workers in the area. These events are excellent opportunities where jobseekers can introduce themselves and learn more about available jobs and the hiring companies.
"We often do community outreach and host job fairs to create opportunities for people to introduce themselves and learn about their backgrounds. We find that these events are one of the best ways to find local talent," says Mulheron.
Employers continue hiring throughout the span of a project. To find new workers they rely heavily on employee referrals. Let your family and friends know you're interested in working in solar and ask them to share any news they may hear about solar companies looking for help.
Don't be shy about expressing your desire to work in the industry online. Join solar or renewable energy focused Facebook and LinkedIn groups to find knowledgeable solar professionals who may have a connection to a job opening.
Be willing to travel
Most large-scale solar projects don't happen in big cities. They're developed in rural places like Dateland, Arizona, where the population is just 441. Being able to commute to the jobsite can be a challenge. It can also be a project-based business. Your willingness to work in a wide variety of places will set you apart from those who are unable.
"Being willing to travel is critical since projects are developed in very remote places. A willingness to travel job-to-job with the top solar construction companies in the US is an important trait we look for in people that are going to work with us for a long time," says Mulheron.
It is common that a company will provide a per diem to help workers traveling long distances. If this road warrior lifestyle suits you — lining up various solar contract jobs to find consistent work is possible with some help.
If you're looking for a job in solar construction or installation, you're in luck. More jobs are added each year, and companies will be looking for the best talent as the industry gets more competitive. To get your foot in the door, Mulheron advises that workers focus on improving how they communicate their transferable skills during interviews and on resumes.
"You need to be able to communicate your skills that are acquired in different industries that could be relatable in solar. Skills like working with your hands, working outdoors, using hand-tools, or operating equipment. Our clients are usually willing to develop an individual that's motivated to be a part of the team. Especially, if they've got skills that they can draw from to be successful," says Mulheron.
Start your search for a solar job with us. Search current openings on our job board.