Solar power is the future of energy, and we’re going to need plenty of people to work in the solar industry to keep it running smoothly. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that by 2035, 40% of the nation’s electricity could be provided by solar energy, and it will employ 1.5 million people in the process. What we wanted to know was which solar jobs pay the best and what level of education and training would one need to obtain them. Using data from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)’s Solar Career Map, we ranked 40 different solar energy jobs by their median annual pay.
Since solar energy is still in the early stages of its full potential, now is a great time to enter the industry with a career as a solar technician or work in solar sales, both of which can earn an above-average salary. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shared that solar installer jobs are expected to increase 52% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average job growth of other careers, making it a great option for an entry-level solar panel job. Read on to see what one can expect to make for a solar sales salary, a solar technician salary, or with any of the following 40 solar energy jobs in this chart from Solar Power Guide.
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The highest-paying solar job is a lawyer with solar expertise, which can also be called an energy or environmental attorney. They earn a median annual salary of $114,870, although out of all of the solar jobs, this one does require the highest level of education and training, including a postgraduate degree. Solar lawyers assist their clients with things like project development and financing, offer legal advice on regulatory compliance, and represent their clients in regulatory proceedings before state and federal energy regulatory agencies.
The 10 Highest-Paying Solar Jobs
The lowest-paying of the solar jobs is solar assembler or basic installer, with a median salary of $28,640 a year. These are entry-level solar panel installation jobs that only require a high school diploma or equivalent and short-term training. It’s a great option for those for those looking for solar industry jobs, as there is plenty of room for advancement to other solar installer jobs, such as a certified solar PV installer or a solar crew chief, both of which have a median annual salary of more than $40,000.
The four main sectors of solar energy jobs are broken down by different parts of the solar power generation process and include manufacturing, system design, project development, and installations and operation. Through our analysis, we found that solar jobs in the system design sector have the highest average median pay, at $76,378 a year. Jobs that fall under installation and operations have the lowest average median pay, at $52,101, although that’s still 31% higher than the median personal income in the U.S.
|Solar Job Title||Sector||Median Annual Pay||Work Experience||Education and Training Level||Preferred Education and Training Level|
|1||Lawyer With Solar Expertise||Project Development||$114,970||5+ years||Postgraduate Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|2||Solar Project Developer||Project Development||$105,060||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Master Level or Postgraduate Degree|
|3||Software Engineer||System Design||$99,195||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|Solar Energy Systems Designer||System Design||$94,240||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|5||Materials Scientist||Manufacturing||$91,980||5+ years||Postgraduate Degree||N/A|
|Electrical Engineer||Manufacturing||$91,410||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|7||Power Systems Engineer||System Design||$91,410||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|8||Solar Installation Contractor||Installation and Operations||$85,630||5+ years||Journey Level||Bachelor’s Degree or Master Level|
|9||Solar Fleet Manager||Installation and Operations||$85,400||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||N/A|
|10||Solar Utility Procurement Specialist||Project Development||$83,535||3-5 years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|11||Environmental Engineer||Manufacturing||$83,360||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|12||Mechanical Engineer||Manufacturing||$83,060||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|13||Structural Engineer||System Design||$82,050||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||N/A|
|14||Industrial Engineer||Manufacturing||$81,490||5+ years||Bachelor’s Degree||Postgraduate Degree|
|15||Utility Interconnection Engineer||System Design||$80,907||5+ years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|16||Solar Sales Representative||Project Development||$75,140||3-5 years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|17||Quality Assurance Specialist||Manufacturing||$61,580||3-5 years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|18||Advanced Manufacturing Technician||Manufacturing||$61,580||1-3 years||Post-Secondary Credential||Associate Degree|
|19||Solar PV Technician (Commercial/Utility)||Installation and Operations||$61,580||3-5 years||Journey Level||Master Level|
|20||Solar Marketing Specialist||Project Development||$61,290||1-3 years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|21||Solar Project Manager||Installation and Operations||$60,990||5+ years||Post-Secondary Credential or Journey Level||Bachelor’s Degree or Master Level|
|22||Solar Site Assessor||Project Development||$60,050||1-3 years||High School Diploma (or Equivalent)||Apprentice Level or Post-Secondary Credential|
|Instrumentation and Electronics Technician||Manufacturing||$59,820||3-5 years||Post-Secondary Credential||
|24||Residential PV System Designer||System Design||$58,790||3-5 years||Associate Degree or Journey Level||Bachelor’s Degree|
|25||Code Official With Solar Expertise||Project Development||$56,130||3-5 years||Post-Secondary Credential||Associate Degree|
|26||Electrical Inspector With Solar Expertise||Project Development||$56,040||3-5 years||Master Level||N/A|
|27||Building Inspector With Solar Expertise||Project Development||$56,040||3-5 years||Post-Secondary Credential or Journey Level||Certification|
|28||Process Control Technician||Manufacturing||$53,370||3-5 years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|29||Solar Service Technician (Residential)||Installation and Operations||$53,070||3-5 years||Apprentice Level or Post-Secondary Credential||Associate Degree or Journey Level|
|30||Engineering Technician||System Design||$52,465||3-5 years||Post-Secondary Credential||Associate Degree|
|31||IT Specialist||System Design||
|3-5 years||Associate Degree||Bachelor’s Degree|
|32||Plumber With Solar Expertise||Installation and Operations||$50,660||3-5 years||Apprentice Level||Associate Degree or Journey Level|
|33||Electrician With Solar Expertise (Solar Installation Electrician)||Installation and Operations||$47,180||5+ years||Apprentice Level or Post-Secondary Credential||Journey Level|
|34||HVAC Technician With Solar Expertise||Installation and Operations||$44,630||3-5 years||Apprentice Level or Post-Secondary Credential||Associate Degree or Journey Level|
|35||Solar Instructor||Installation and Operations||$43,360||5+ years||Associate Degree or Journey Level||Bachelor’s Degree or Master Level|
|36||Solar Crew Chief||Installation and Operations||$40,645||1-3 years||High School Diploma (or Equivalent)||Post-Secondary Credential|
|37||Solar PV Installer||Installation and Operations||$40,020||3-5 years||Associate Degree or Journey Level||Bachelor’s Degree or Master Level, Certification|
|38||Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator||Manufacturing||$36,440||1-3 years||High School Diploma (or Equivalent)||Post-Secondary Credential|
|39||Roofer With Solar Expertise||Installation and Operations||$35,760||3-5 years||Apprentice Level||Journey Level|
|40||Solar Assembler/Basic Installer||Installation and Operations||$28,640||1-3 years||High School Diploma (or Equivalent)||Post-Secondary Credential|