This week, The Solar Foundation released its annual National Solar Jobs Census. The report provides a comprehensive look at employment in the American solar industry for 2019, from how many solar jobs the industry supported last year to where jobs are located throughout the country and which segments of the industry employ the most people.
Solar jobs: a decade of growth
The Solar Foundation first released the National Solar Jobs Census a decade ago, when the industry supported just shy of one hundred thousand jobs. Today, that number has ballooned to a quarter million solar jobs nationwide, a growth of 167 percent over the past decade.
Interestingly, although solar energy currently only accounts for under 3 percent of all electricity generation in the US, it accounts for around 30 percent of all jobs in electricity power generation in the country, which amounts to more jobs than in all fossil-fuel power generation sectors.
Solar supports jobs nationwide
The solar industry supports jobs in every state in the US, as well as in Washington DC and Puerto Rico. In fact, solar jobs increased in 31 states, with solar jobs growing by more than 10 percent in 13 states from 2018 to 2019. And this growth isn’t just a blip in the employment record: according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar PV installer is the fastest-growing job in the US (followed closely, we should note, by another clean-energy job: wind turbine technician).
Note: coloring reflects the year-over-year changes in solar jobs in individual states. Blue indicates a decrease, yellow is an increase of under 10% and orange is an increase of over 10%.
American solar jobs are primarily in installation and project development
There are a number of different types of solar jobs: from manufacturing to supply chain, and installation to operations and maintenance. In the US, nearly 65 percent of solar jobs are in installation or project development, with 56 percent of all solar jobs primarily focused specifically on the residential solar sector. New this year, The Solar Foundation reports that there were about 16,000 employees dedicated to energy storage at solar installation and project development companies, or about a tenth of all jobs in that segment.
Despite the Trump Administration’s tariffs on imported solar goods, which were designed to boost solar panel manufacturing jobs in the US, manufacturing accounted for just 14 percent of solar jobs in 2019. Module manufacturing specifically only accounted for 4.6 percent of jobs.
Opportunities to join the solar workforce
If you’re interested in joining the Green Collar Economy with a job in solar, the National Solar Jobs Census provides some ideas for where to start. Survey respondents said the three most difficult positions to hire for were: sales/marketing, management, and electrician/construction workers. Also, a third of respondents indicated that a lack of qualified talent was a primary barrier to growth, so be sure to attend training and receive the certifications necessary to join the profession.
(Author’s note: psst we’re hiring too!)
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