There is no one path to getting started in any job field. Everyone comes to an industry with a different mix of skills, interests, and experience. Getting into the solar industry is no different. Here are some tips to get you started.
Take a class. Watch a webinar. Read an industry magazine. Sign up for a newsletter. Take an exam. The more you read about the solar industry the more you’ll learn what interests you and what positions might be the best fit for your skills and experience. Check out the resources below for ideas.
Networking, networking, networking!
Getting to know people is a critical step to finding job opportunities. Having a strong network of contacts is essential. Building a network takes effort but here are some ways to get started:
- Informational interviews – Don’t be afraid to contact people and ask to interview them. You aren’t asking for a job. You’re asking to find out what they do so you can learn about the industry. In this context, many people are generous with their time. Afterward, ask them to whom else you should speak. Connect the dots. Create your network. Be respectful. Be grateful. And, be generous in the future when someone asks you for an informational interview!
- Volunteer – Spending personal time to help an organization demonstrates you are serious and shows what skills and experience you can bring to a job.
- Join an industry association – The local solar energy industries association is called “MDV-SEIA”. Signing up for an individual membership is inexpensive ($50) and gets you access to weekly newsletters, local job postings, and event announcements.
Resources to Learn More About Solar
- Sign up for the VA SUN Listserv
The list is a collection of several hundred homeowners, installers, government officials, and solar advocates and is a great place to stay up to date on solar in Virginia.
- Take a free course online.
Solar Energy International is an excellent online educational resource for learning about solar. They offer a variety of paid courses beginner to advanced. To get started, try taking their free online course “Introduction to Renewable Energy (RE100)“.
- Sign up for online magazines and newsletters with industry publications:
- Solar for veterans
Let’s Go Solar has put together a comprehensive guide for military veterans who want to get into the industry.
- NABCEP Entry Level Exam
When you’re ready, think about taking this exam. Passing it demonstrates critical solar knowledge to a potential employer.