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What is Solar Energy Technology?
Solar energy technology is a field of study emphasizing the mechanics, design, and installation of renewable energy systems. The solar energy technology degree track prepares students to design, manage, and maintain a variety of renewable energy systems and green projects.
Expertise is garnered via hands-on training, classroom projects, and case studies for industries of all types. The combination of pragmatic experience and academic heft helps solar energy techs translate concepts into reality.
A solar energy major will take courses in college to help provide a solid basis in the sustainability field. While classes will flex by program, the end result will be to equip students with valuable skills.
Knowledge by solar energy graduates will include in-depth understanding of: fluid mechanics, energy management, electrochemistry, statistics, thermodynamics, photovoltaic devices, energy management, solid-state devices, energy efficient manufacturing, fuel science, and mathematical modeling.
Top Solar Energy Degrees
The degree programs and certificate programs in this niche field of study can be found at select community colleges, trade schools, and universities. Solar energy is a rapidly growing market that promotes the utilization of the energy harvested from the sun as a means of sustainable energy.
A quick summary of the certificate programs and undergraduate degree programs are listed below. To connect to top ranked schools in this field of study, simply connect with them below to collect more information about their array of programs in sustainable studies.
Solar Energy Technology Certificate Programs
Solar energy certificate programs can be earned online or in class at most major colleges. Online degree programs offer students the ability to learn remotely within a flexible schedule. Distance learning tends to work well for busy students that work during traditional school hours or choose not to commute to a particular location day over day.
Certificate programs can be designed to be general or specific in nature. Meaning, a student can enroll in a solar energy program with the specific intent to become an installation expert while other programs may focus on the science of solar energy.
Solar Energy Technology Associate Degrees
An associate degree in solar energy technology can be conferred as an Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Arts (AA) depending on how the school designs the program. Associate degrees can be earned wholly or partially online which provides students the flexibility to learn at their own pace.
Online learning may also provide substantive cost savings by forgoing the costs associated with room, board, travel, parking, vehicles, insurance, gas, etc. AA and AS programs will combine general education classes with technical classes to help provide students with a well-rounded educational experience.
Educational Requirements in Solar Energy Tech
In terms of educational requirements, solar energy degree holders must acquire science-laden knowledge. Courses offered by accredited universities will vary by degree level and type but will typically consist of foundational classes. Examples of academic foundation courses in solar energy include:
- Business Management
- Industrial Technology
- Photovoltaic Devices
- Energy Management
- Materials Science
Employment in Solar Energy
Earning a solar energy degree prepares students for numerous careers. Students can focus solely in solar energy and grow a career in that vein. Examples may include a project manager, installation specialist, sales representative, or budget analysts for a sustainable energy company.
Alternatively, skills garnered in a solar energy degree program can prepare student for similar trades. Skills and knowledge in solar energy may be parlayed into similar fields. A sampling of related work can include jobs such as: roofer, electrician, plumber, glazer, ironworker, sheet metal worker, cost estimator, specialty contractor, budget manager, financial analyst, cost estimator, or construction manager.
Solar Energy Jobs & Career Growth
Given the emphasis by the federal government on reducing emissions, the solar energy sector continues to soar. Government initiatives range from individual tax credits to far-reaching corporate incentives to help spur investment in green energy.
As a result, the solar energy job outlooks looks extremely bright. Job growth for solar energy technicians is forecast to vault by 24% in the coming ten years. To illustrate this impact, solar energy installers, solar energy managers, and solar sales representatives will account for over 110,000 new jobs during this timeframe.
Likewise, the logistic chain in solar energy will also see a huge lift in employment. The upstream vendors such as manufacturers, fabricators, and materials distributors will see a large lift in production and jobs. Industry experts anticipate solar and sustainable projects to grow even faster than the government is projecting. Continued emphasis on green living and ecological awareness will bring new customers into the fold with regularity.
Additional Resources in Solar Energy
To learn more about the solar industry, we have assembled a list of associations and organizations representing this industry. Their emphasis may include legislation, program initiatives, continuing education, and professional networking opportunities outside academia.
- Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
- American Solar Energy Society (ASES)
- California Solar Energy Industries Association (CalSEIA)
- Independent Energy Producers Association (IEPA)
- Let's Go Solar
- NorCal Solar Energy Association
- Solar Alliance (SA)
- Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA)
- Solar Guide
- Solar Power International (SPI)
- The Rahus Institute (TRI)