How to Become a Solar Energy Engineer
Solar Energy Engineer Careers & Degrees

The ever growing field of alternative energy includes the Solar Energy field which takes advantage of an almost limitless resource: the sun.

Solar Energy Engineers use the sun’s natural resources to develop and create energy for public consumption.

This type of energy development takes advantage of the sun’s unlimited resources in order to produce more efficient energies.

Solar Energy Engineer’s techniques help create electricity and other energy sources by using the sun’s power.

There are many benefits that arise from the popularity of this renewable energy source such as fewer emissions which decrease adverse effects to the environment.

Another benefit to entering the solar energy industry is the fact that it is expected to grow as it becomes more cost effective and popular among consumers.

In addition, as Solar Energy Engineers and other professionals find more cost effective ways to produce this kind of energy, more consumers will be able to afford it.

This affordability will lead to an increase in consumption which in turn would raise the demand for professionals in the field.

Students who want to become a Solar Energy Engineer may find themselves having an interest in mathematics, the sciences and have a passion for creating different sources of renewable energy other than petroleum and oil.

Continue reading below if you have an interest in the renewable energy field and want to learn about the educational requirements, a typical job description and salary information.

Education Requirements to Become a Solar Energy Engineer

In order to become a Solar Energy Engineer, students need a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in engineering.

However, an increasing number of employers now seek a Master’s degree in engineering.

Therefore, students who want to become a Solar Energy Engineer should consider going to graduate school in order to be more competitive in the field.

A Bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years to complete.

Depending on the school they attend, students may have the option of majoring in a subspecialty that is more specific to the solar energy field.

In other words, some schools may offer a Solar Energy Engineering degree, while others may not.

Students attending an institution not offering this specialized major may think about majoring in another specialty.

Students attending a school that doesn’t offer this unique major can consider studying an engineering specialty such as renewable energy engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, industrial engineering or mechanical engineering.

Solar Energy Engineer Job Description

Solar Energy Engineers may work in different environments including labs, offices or industrial plants.

These professionals are typically employed by solar equipment manufacturing firms and may travel to many locations in order to perform their duties.

Solar Energy Engineers are responsible for a variety of tasks geared to create solar energy that is developed in a way that is efficient.

They will use scientific theory to develop a viable source of energy that consumers are able to afford and use.

These professionals will design, develop and examine several aspects of solar energy making sure it is ready for consumption.

During the planning stage, Solar Energy Engineers follow practical specifications in order to use a variety of scientific elements to create an outline for new products.

They will use several forms of computer applications to produce a design and analyze its effectiveness.

They will also use computer software to imitate and examine solar energy structures.

After the planning and design stage, a Solar Energy Engineer will then determine whether the plan will meet safety standards, meet budget expectations, whether it is dependable and efficient.

Solar Energy Engineers will also use computer applications to determine quality control.

Solar Energy Engineer Salary and Career Path

The solar power industry is expected to grow as it become more popular and cost efficient.

In addition, engineering positions are high in demand.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 53% of employees in the solar energy field are engineering professionals.

The BLS also reports the national median wage for engineers in this profession.

Wages will depend on the specialty candidates go into.

Some typical median wages are $92,820 for Chemical Engineers, $92,000 for Electrical Engineers and $78,000 for Mechanical Engineers.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$120,700
$71K
$90K
$120K
$138K
$179K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Arizona$145,400
Arkansas$129,330
California$146,470
Connecticut$116,000
District of Columbia- NA -
Florida$105,830
Idaho$131,900
Illinois$122,330
Kansas$112,490
Kentucky- NA -
Louisiana$93,040
Maine$89,100
Maryland$143,410
Michigan- NA -
Minnesota$117,360
Mississippi$102,190
Missouri$105,990
Nebraska$112,110
New Jersey$118,370
New Mexico- NA -
New York$113,400
Pennsylvania$115,810
South Carolina$105,340
Tennessee$130,570
Texas$113,820
Utah$138,940
Virginia$93,570
Wisconsin$121,050

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $146,470.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $146,470
Arizona - $145,400
Maryland - $143,410
Utah - $138,940
Idaho - $131,900
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Nuclear Engineers, OCC Code 17-2161, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a solar energy engineer do?

Solar energy engineers plan and implement methods of harnessing solar energy.

The first step in solar energy projects usually consists of consulting the client and assessing the site.

The engineers then design a plan and may also be responsible for overseeing the project implementation.

While most of the engineers’ work can be completed in an office, they may also be called on-site to supervise the implementation or to inspect the installation.

Solar energy engineers participate in projects of different sizes: from large municipal projects to home installations.

Engineers may also conduct financial reviews and write technical reports.

Solar energy engineers need technical and math skills, but also problem-solving skills and attention to details.

QuestionHow much does a solar energy engineer make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t record specific data about solar energy engineers, but the mean annual wage for engineers, in general, was $99,410 as of May 2018.

The salaries vary depending on a number of factors, including the region of employment and the engineer’s experience.

For example, a report published by bls.gov shows that the average annual wage for engineers who work in Texas was $113,370, while Nebraska engineers earned, on average, $82,760 a year.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a solar energy engineer?

Solar energy engineers typically need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering.

Tuition costs vary depending on the college and the program you choose.

Programs in electrical engineering cost, on average, around $42,000 a year.

Some employers may also require a graduate’s degree.

Many jobs also require a Professional Engineer license or an Engineer in Training licensure.

QuestionWhat is the demand for solar energy engineers?

According to the Solar Foundation, there were 250,271 jobs available in the solar energy field in 2018.

However, the number of jobs available depends on the region.

According to Solar Foundation, California has the most jobs in the solar energy field, with almost 77,000 jobs available in 2018.

The Foundation projects that the number of jobs available in California will grow by 6.7% in 2019.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a solar energy engineer?

Solar energy engineers usually need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering, which can be obtained in around 4 years.

Intensive 5-year programs that lead to a bachelor’s and a master’s degree are also available at some colleges and universities.

Engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

Many employers also require a Professional Engineer license or an Engineer in Training licensure.

You can become an Engineering in Training right after finishing college, by passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.

This will make you eligible for entry-level jobs and give you the opportunity of working under the supervision of a fully-licensed engineer.

After getting at least four years of experience in the field, you can take the final exam and get your Professional Engineer license.

This will give you better job prospects and more independence.

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