The solar industry has expanded dramatically over the last decade. In 2015 alone, it grew nearly 12 times faster than the general economy, making it one of the fastest developing industries in the country. In fact, new American solar jobs accounted for 1.2 percent of all new jobs created. These impressive statistics, then, beg the questions, “Is this too good to be true? Is the solar industry’s bubble about to burst?” All signs seems to indicate that the answer is a definite no, and we at Modernize have to agree.
Investment Tax Credit
In December of last year, Congress approved an extension of the tax incentives for alternative energy, including a substantial tax credit for solar producers that was set to expire in 2016. Although analysts had anticipated the industry’s remarkable expansion to slow this year to only a 14.7 percent increase—as opposed to the over 20 percent growth in recent years—that projection was made before this tax credit was approved. Most solar executives, though, estimate that their growth this year will continue to rival that of previous years.
The Solar Foundation polled over 19,000 solar industry executives and discovered that managers believe that market demand will keep their businesses booming. Many analysts are projecting employment across all areas of the solar industry to expand by almost 15 percent over the next year. That’s 13 times faster than the total US economy! Solar manufacturing was the only sector that did not expand in 2015; however, even that area is expected to rebound this year, adding close to 3,800 positions to the job market.
Education, Credentials, and Experience
The Solar Foundation also found that most employers are finding it “very difficult” to identify employees with enough experience. In fact, this challenge has increased across almost all sectors of the industry with the lone exception of manufacturing. A whooping 66 percent of employers require an applicant to have some level of experience in the solar industry, far higher than those that require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree.
It would behoove anyone hoping to enter the solar industry to pursue an accredited training program that has an internship component in order to gain both the experience and education that an employer is looking for.
Since 2010, the solar industry has expanded by 123 percent, creating over 115,000 new solar jobs for Americans. In fact, from November 2014 until now, 83 percent of all new hires were for an added position, rather than simply replacing a previous employee. By taking the appropriate steps, you, too, can become a part of the rapidly expanding solar industry!