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Going Green: Construction Jobs in Solar Energy

solar panel

Jobs in renewable energy are some of the fastest growing in the U.S. And it’s no wonder — with an increasing focus on clean energy for a better environment and economy, this industry provides a variety of job opportunities for construction workers and heavy machine operators.

Aerotek Business Development Manager Colin Hess shares what you need to know about renewable energy jobs, particularly in the solar sector. Learn about jobs in this exciting industry that will advance.

What’s in renewable energy for you?

Pay for renewable energy workers is roughly the same as in general construction. But with the opportunity for more overtime on a solar site, your take-home pay each week is usually better.

Renewable energy work sites typically exist in more rural areas where there’s enough space for a solar field. If you don’t live nearby, you may receive a per diem. And if you’re willing to travel often, you could line up several renewable energy contract jobs for consistent work.

Advancing in renewable energy looks a lot like general construction progression: from laborer to crew leader to foreman, and so on. You could also move into a forklift operator role or from an electrical assistant to an electrician.

Certifications can help you make the jump. Take it from Hess: “There are safety certifications and operator certifications. What you get certified in depends on how much you’re willing to learn. Certifications will benefit you in the solar field — and beyond.”

Solar energy jobs you need to know about

With 200 to 400 workers on a solar energy site comes a wide range of construction opportunities to fulfill the high volume of work. A midsized renewable plant will have 100 to 200 entry-level individuals — with two years of experience or less — doing mechanical assembly, electrical wiring, dirt-grading and basic spotting for a forklift operator or other general labor.

“There’s on-the-job training from day one, but to qualify for these jobs, entry-level workers need basic mechanical or electrical aptitude. They need to know how to use basic hand and power tools, lift 50 pounds, handle basic wiring and be prepared to work outside, 10 to 12 hours a day. It’s hands-on labor that requires the ability to learn and follow instructions — and of course show up on time every day with a good attitude,” says Hess.

Jobs available in solar energy include:

  • Laborers
  • Heavy equipment operators for bulldozers, backhoe excavators and scrapers
  • Electricians
  • Pile-driver operators
  • Mechanical installers
  • Construction managers
  • Crew leaders
  • Foremen
  • Superintendents
  • Logistics coordinators

After solar panel installations on a site are complete, 5–10 maintenance workers clean the panels, keep up with the landscaping and assist with any electrical and mechanical dysfunction.

Get in on the green energy

Aerotek is connected to some of the top renewable energy companies in the industry, making it easier for you to find the right construction job for you. And as renewable energy research and technology evolve and expand, so will construction opportunities in solar energy, wind power and more.

“We're just scratching the surface right now. This field is going to grow exponentially over the next couple of years,” says Hess.