How to Brighten Your Career by Adding Solar

by
Director of Marketing & Communication, Borrego Solar Systems, Inc.

Nov   2016

Sat

05

Many college students today learn about climate change and the world’s energy challenges. Consequently, they develop an interest in pursing careers where they can help create a clean, sustainable economy. And with renewable energy development being one of the fastest growing job sectors, it’s a great time to pursue these careers!

College graduates have an increasing number of employment options available to them related to solving environmental and energy challenges. One of the best-known and most popular options? Solar.

Solar power continues to have a bright future. Greentech Media Research’s recent Solar Market Insights report says that in 2016 the US solar industry will have installed a whopping and unprecedented 14.5 gigawatts (GW) in solar capacity, a 94% jump over the 7.5 GW in capacity installed in 2015. This growth cements solar energy’s place among America’s electricity sources.

Still not convinced about the power of solar? According to Mike Jacobs, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a number of factors show a robust future for jobs in the solar industry:

  • A 65% decrease in solar energy costs over the past five years
  • US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative projecting 14% of US electricity will be supplied by solar energy in 2030 and 27% by 2050
  • 300,000 megawatts of solar installations implemented by 2030

So, if you’re interested in studying sustainable solar power in college and making it your career, take a look below at several college academic and major paths that can help you get there. They’re the majors and classes that often lead to rewarding careers in solar, according to the employees of Borrego Solar, a leading commercial and utility solar EPC.

Green finance and business, because there are no money trees

Careers in finance allow you to work in any industry; even nonprofits need to track their funding and expenses. With an accounting background, you can focus on the greenbacks of green technologies. From negotiating letters of intent to helping companies finance their solar operations, the industry needs math-smart college-educated staff—or at least until money grows on trees.

Related college classes

  • Accounting
  • Statistics
  • Economics
  • Business
  • International finance

Related degrees and certifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting
  • Bachelor’s degree in Business or a Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification

Related: Find colleges with these majors here

Engineering, so you can design a sustainable future

Virtually any engineering disciplines can be applied to the solar industry. From taking the various inputs of a site survey and feasibility study to drafting the many iterations of a solar array in AutoCAD, engineering professionals breathe life into customers’ stack of energy bills. Engineers determine the feasibility of a project and whether it can be built on a specific site like a capped landfill, aging rooftop, or level bedrock. Electrical and structural engineers often work directly with solar construction crews, project-manage solar installations, and come up with quality assurance measures that protect the surrounding community.

Related college classes

  • Architecture
  • AutoCAD and Computer Engineering
  • Calculus
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • GIS And Surveying
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Software Engineering
  • Structural Engineering

Related degrees and certifications

  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Software Engineering
  • Structural Engineering

Pro tip: You’ll want to look for field-specific engineering certifications from organizations like NABCEP® (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners)

Marketing and sales, for making green deals

Contrary to what you might think, not all jobs in solar energy rely on degrees in technology, math, and engineering. If you can understand and (perhaps more importantly) simplify solar-related technical concepts and you have an interest in sales and marketing, the solar industry can be both profitable and fulfilling as you work to help the environment.

Related college classes

  • Business
  • Communication Studies
  • Digital Marketing and Social Media
  • Journalism
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Sociology

Related degrees and certifications

  • Communication Studies or Journalism
  • Marketing
  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies

Public policy, so you can advocate for solar and its customers

Given that renewable energy is a relatively new and quickly evolving industry, many policies are being created and updated regularly. Solar policy professionals are responsible for advocating on behalf of the solar industry and its customers with utility companies, lawmakers, and governing agencies to ensure that the right policies are put in place to keep solar growing. Solar policy experts work across the aisles for both solar companies and trade organizations, as well as government agencies, utilities, etc.

Related college classes

  • Business
  • Communication Studies
  • Government Relations
  • Political Science
  • Public Relations
  • Sociology

Related degrees and certifications

  • Business Administration
  • Economics
  • Environmental Management
  • Law
  • Political Science

One last thing…

Sold on solar? Great! Practical experience can go a long way in securing your dream job, whatever you choose to major in. Having an internship is a superb way to gain credit and experience. Share your interest with your advisor and others in the field—opportunities can pop up in unexpected ways.

Here are a few internship listings to get you started:

Are you planning on studying any of these fields in college and/or pursuing solar power as a career? Let us know about your journey in the comments.

BONUS! Five solar scholarships!

Note: Did you know you could win a $10,000 scholarship for college or grad school just by registering on CollegeXpress? This is one of the quickest, easiest scholarships you’ll ever apply for. Register Now »

About Philip Hall

Philip Hall

Philip Hall is the Director of Marketing & Communication at Borrego Solar Systems, Inc. A B2B solar marketing professional since 2007, Philip Hall is the chair of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) public relations committee and author of “Solar Marketing in the Digital Age” for Solar Pro magazine.

 
Comments