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What is it like being a Solar Thermal Installer & Technician and what are the pros & cons about the career?

Right now I'm going to be studying to be a Solar Thermal Installer as my profession. I was interested in this field because I like solar power energy and like to use natural sources. I was wondering is this a good career in the long run too? technology computer engineering career solar engineer installer

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Zahid’s Answer

For our future readers let's first talk about what does a Solar Thermal Installer do?

Solar thermal installers plan and install the tanks, pipes and other components of hot water systems. They also plan and install the solar panels in the correct areas so as to gain the most sun power possible for the residence or building. They also must perform routine maintenance and repair on all of the components of the systems. They use different tools to make sure that the solar panels are functioning correctly and absorbing the sun power that they should. Through the use of smart phones and laptops, they analyze the solar site shade to be sure that the panels are working in an optimized manner.

Next, are you suited to be a solar thermal installer?

Solar thermal installers have distinct personalities. They tend to be realistic individuals, which means they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty. They like tasks that are tactile, physical, athletic, or mechanical. Some of them are also conventional, meaning they’re conscientious and conservative.

Next, let's see what is the workplace of a Solar Thermal Installer like

The workplace of a solar thermal installer is typically outdoors and takes place in all types of weather conditions. The installer works on the tops of roofs and in small spaces, moving and lifting throughout the day to get solar systems installed. They may work alone or with a group of other professionals, such as plumbers and electricians.

This can be a dirty job as the installer is exposed to all types of conditions and situations. The installer may be high on a building installing solar panels, or digging into the dirt to install plumbing pipes. They may have to deal with water leaks and all other sorts of maintenance problems.

Does doing this type of work interest you, bearing in mind that for northern states like Illinois, you'll have to deal with snow and and freezing winter temperatures if you plan to stay there for the job.

The average salary for a solar thermal installer in the United States is around $36,890 per year. Those on the bottom end make about $24.3K and the top 20% make around $61.9K

As for the job market and future outlook, there are currently an estimated 42,700 solar thermal installers in the United States. The solar thermal installer job market is expected to grow by 9.6% between 2016 and 2026.

If being happy in your career is important to you then you may find it surprising that solar thermal installers rate their career happiness 3.1 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 42% of careers.

You can always talk to an installer and shadow them for a day to get a better idea of what it's like being in their shoe. Calling up a local company that does installations regarding 'interviewing' an installer for career assignment or shadowing them for a day is one option.
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Jack’s Answer

Hi Aaron! I worked as a solar engineering, design and sales consultant at a small company that ended up failing between 2012-2014 when I was in college. This particular experience was great for me to see a dysfunctional company fail. It was great life experience at times being on roofs and seeing how the technology worked. That said, one thing I've read about in that industry is that if you are looking to make money, residential solar installation has somewhat sputtered out.

What may be a good solution is to learn about ways to advance your skills in industrial scale solar, and learn skills about the business aspect of this.

Here is one good resource:

Make no mistake, Solar will continue to become more prevalent, but my advice to you is to gain further skills to avoid getting pidgeonholed into a technician job.

The job may not be a bad first step, but make sure you are educating yourself about the business side and putting as much energy to learn and get promoted through your company.