Solar energy is a growing field that is being spurred through aggressive incentives by governments like the state of California. This increase in demand for solar is also increasing the demand for solar installation technicians. Greenjobstudies.org reports that projections indicate a need for 3,578 new photovoltaic (PV) system installers by 2015 and an additional 780 solar thermal system installers. Unfortunately, entry level salaries for solar technicians are not very good but may improve as solar demand grows.
Salaries Vary Greatly
Average solar energy technician salaries vary greatly due to experience, location, training, company and specific job responsibilities. And some states like Oregon require that renewable energy installers be licensed. But according to a March 2011 survey by Simply Hired, the average solar energy technician earns £28,600 per year, while the average solar installer earns £20,150.
Job Title Confusion
Since the tracking of solar energy jobs is relatively new, the data typically does not differentiate between photovoltaic and thermal solar installers and may even categorise solar technicians as HVAC installers. So the tracking of salaries is not consistent and the difference between a solar energy technician and a solar installer may be fuzzy. Even the government Education Resources Information Center lumps them together as a solar energy technician/installer. In addition, there is a vast difference in the skills necessary for photovoltaic installations and solar thermal systems -- the first being primarily electrical and electronic while the second is primarily plumbing, although both use solar radiation as an energy source. There may also be significant pay differentials for small scale residential installations versus technicians working for large commercial scale solar concentrating plants. Pay differentials may also result depending on whether the position includes system design aspects, or simply system installation.
Lowest Salaries in U.S. Cities
According to a SalaryExpert.com March 2011 survey, Miami had the lowest salary for another variation of the job title called solar fabrication technicians, with an annual salary of only £14,694. Only a little over 200 miles away in Orlando, solar fabrication technicians earn £21,208. Dallas techs earn a similar £20,875 and in Atlanta and Chicago they earn an average of £20,885 and £20,528 respectively.
Highest Salaries in U.S. Cities
On the other end of the scale the highest salaries reported on the SalaryExpert.com survey were in Boston, where solar fabrication technicians earned £28,969 and Houston, where they earned an average of £28,999. Phoenix came in slightly lower at £27,503. Unfortunately this survey does not highlight any data for the states of California and Oregon, two primary solar using states.
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