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The future is bright for U.S. solar industry employment

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That’s according to the latest National Solar Jobs Census from the Solar Foundation which has found that over 242,000 individuals are now employed in America’s solar power industry.
Over 242,000 people are currently employed in America's solar industry- and this number is set to rise in 2019
Despite the lost of 8,000 solar jobs last year, due in part to uncertainties caused by the Trump administration’s energy and trade policies, the overall picture remains positive with solar employment growing 159% from just over 93,000 to more than 242,000 jobs in all 50 states over the past nine years.

Solar, which currently represents about 2.4% of overall U.S. electricity generation, already employs twice as many workers as the coal industry and almost five times as many workers as the nuclear industry. As the report makes clear, as solar grows to represent an ever-larger part of America’s energy mix, so too will employment.

According to the report solar jobs increased in 29 states in 2018, including many states with emerging solar markets. States with the highest employment gains included Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New York State.

Growth is set to continue due to a backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states, which could see a 7% increase in the number of solar jobs in 2019, bringing the overall total to 259,400 jobs.
Despite a decline of 8,000 jobs in 2018, the next few years should see a growth in solar jobs thanks to a backlog of utility scale projects starting up.
Hiring trends revealed

The Solar Foundation’s report also revealed some interesting hiring trends, which should be noted by residential and utility scale solar companies alike.

Key hiring trends revealed include:

Despite common perceptions, the solar industry provides competitive wages for both entry-level and mid-career employees.

Experience is important. 60% of all solar providers surveyed said they looked for previous experience in the industry in new hires.

Despite the above, 26% of all solar providers claimed it was “very difficult” to hire qualified employees.

The industry sector struggling most to hire within the solar sector is installation and project development.

On a discipline-specific level, the most difficult positions to fill are sales, marketing and customer service. This is followed by management positions, then electricians or construction workers.

In terms geographic challenges, the states with the most severe hiring problems where Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Despite last year’s decline in employment, and the hiring challenges outlined above, this year’s National Solar Jobs Census indicates that the sun really does seem to be shining on the U.S. solar power industry. With clean tech and renewables enjoying a seemingly unstoppable growth, those who are seeking work in the world of renewables certainly have cause for optimism.

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