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Workers should look to the solar installation field

Workers should look to the solar installation fieldVia Philly.comAt a time when job opportunities are shrinking, there’s one industry that’s

looking up. Renewable energy jobs are growing even faster now that

President Obama has signed his $787 billion recovery package into law. You

might be able to move into these jobs from another field. "Many of the jobs

will require on-the-job training or apprenticeship-level training," says

Neil Lurie, spokesperson for the American Solar Energy Society in Boulder,

Colo. "Not everyone will have to go to four-year or advanced degree

programs for specific technical skills," he says.Look up to see the source of many emerging renewable energy jobs: the sun.

For years, there’s been talk of harnessing the sun’s energy to serve our

need for power. We’re closer than ever. "The economic stimulus bill had 16

provisions that directly benefit the solar industry," says Colin Lantz,

vice president of sales and marketing with Lighthouse Solar in Boulder.

Although solar companies may hire all sorts of workers, from accountants to

sales people to engineers, one of the hottest jobs is solar installer.

"It’s a good, shovel-ready career," says Lantz. "If you have a construction

background, you can easily get into the solar installation world."Up on the RoofGetting started may mean climbing up on the roof. Right now, the industry

is unregulated, so training varies. It’s possible to get a job in most

states as an installer with little or no certification. There are training

programs offered by Solar Energy International in Carbondale, Colo., or the

more extensive North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners

(NABCEP) certification. Requirements vary locally and by employer. This

could change as this relatively new and quickly growing industry changes,

says Lantz.Can You Measure (Up)?If you can measure and cut, the sort of basic construction experience a

framer has, you can learn solar installation. "We look for people with

solar installation experience first, but barring that, we look for either

electrical contracting experience or general construction experience,"

Lantz says. The electrical experience comes in handy; the NABCEP

certification gets heavy into electrical code and for good reason. Solar

panels gather high voltage power and those who work around them need to

know their stuff.Where the Jobs AreThese jobs are, well, hot. There are more solar installer jobs in the

sunniest states, such as the Southwest. So Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and

Arizona are good bets, says Lurie. "California doubled the number of solar

installations in 2008" compared to 2007, "about half of the country’s solar

installs," he says. But geography isn’t the only factor to consider. Some

states have what Lurie calls a "renewable portfolio standard," a mandate to

convert a certain portion of their energy to renewable sources by a certain

date. "About half of the states in the U.S. have one," Lurie says. It just

takes a little investigation to see if your state encourages renewable

energy to see if e commercial and residential installs are on the rise.Lots to LikeWith a great outlook, good pay for a high school education plus on-the-job

or certificate-level training and the chance to work outdoors, you can’t do

much better than a solar installer. And you get to work outside and

contribute to a good cause. You might even be able to help on a project

that harnesses the sun’s energy to power not just one building but also

thousands of homes or businesses.To view the original article click hereClick here for our guide to solar jobsFor the very latest solar jobs please click here