Harnessing the power of the sun can dispel even the gloomiest economic outlook. That can lead to a bright career in clean energy for transitioning service members and Veterans, says Solar Ready Vets.
The solar industry ranks as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy, due to federal policies, technological innovations, competitive installation costs, and increasing demand from the private and public sectors for clean electricity. This demand means the solar industry needs skilled workers in many areas, such as installation, production, manufacturing, sales and management.
The solar energy industry is quickly expanding, with an average annual growth rate of 49% over the last decade, and accounting for 43% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the U.S. through 2020, higher than other energy generation technologies. As of 2020, solar energy generated enough electricity to power 16 million homes!
Military service provides skills in leadership, teamwork, ingenuity and persistence that can easily be applied to a career in the solar industry. There are several solar training programs designed for service members and Veterans to provide the practical knowledge, skills, and experience needed for working in the solar industry. The programs also include tips for translating skills gained from military service to be competitive in the solar job market.
To get you started, the Solar Ready Vets Network offers solar energy training and credentialing programs focused especially on helping service members and Veterans transition into a career in the solar industry.
Solar Ready Vets Network
The Solar Ready Vets Network is comprised of several solar workforce development programs that provide transitioning military service members and Veterans with career training, professional development and employment opportunities in the solar industry. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), the Network expands upon DOE’s Solar Ready Vets pilot program launched in 2014 to now offer new solar programs:
- Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program: Active-duty military service members who are transitioning are placed in 12-week work-based learning programs with solar employers. These opportunities are primarily management and professional positions, such as technical sales, system design, supply chain logistics, project development, operations and installation. Participants from select military bases in regions with high demand for solar workers receive valuable on-the-job training and experience to help them transition to a civilian career in the solar industry. The Solar Foundation leads this program, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
- Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative: Veterans are provided with solar training, credentialing, professional development and employment opportunities. The goals are to establish an apprenticeship recognized by the Department of Labor, expand the eligibility of solar training for GI Bill benefits, and define expedited pathways to solar certifications based on military experience and qualifications. The Solar Foundation leads this program, in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is establishing a Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship, expanding GI Bill benefits to include solar training and expediting solar certifications based on military experience and qualifications.
What to expect with Solar Ready Vets programs
Skilled instructors, usually affiliated with accredited community colleges, deliver coursework in practical skills. Students benefit from in-person training and internships, interviews with leading solar companies and other job search assistance. Solar Ready Vets programs are currently offered at more than 400 community colleges in 49 states. Students also have the opportunity to become certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), a respected and recognized certification organization for renewable energy professionals.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the NABCEP solar credentialing.
Who is eligible for the Solar Ready Vets programs?
Active-duty military, transitioning service members and Veterans are eligible for these programs. Service members participating in the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program are paid by the military, and Veterans can use their GI Bill benefits to cover the cost of tuition and materials.
Explore a Bright Career in the Solar Industry
CLICK HERE to join the Solar Training Network for resources on solar industry training, certifications, career pathways, and employment opportunities.
The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on part of VA.