Working in Solar Energy, Green Job Tips [Article Review]

In the Fall/Winter 2009 edition of "Get Started 2010," Solar Today Magazine's Liz Merry provides some tips about Working in Solar Energy. Here is the article in short form (accompanied by my commentary):

Liz Merry's how to land a solar job tips:
Liz suggests you first decide where you fit in based on your background: construction, sales, or administration. If you're a mid-career professional, you have a plenty of experiences probably dealing with permitting, local regulations, logistics, project planning, etc.
Second, Liz suggests you take a two-day hands on solar installation course. She suggests going upward from there from a two-year associates degree to a possible four-year degree, from accredited colleges. She does point out that most solar companies provide their own on-the-job training for most positions.
Third, Liz suggests you get to know the solar industry. Attend trade show events, go to your local American Solar Energy Chapter and get involved. The purpose of it all is to stay informed about the policy mandates. Also checkout the Solar Energy Industries Association report (seia.org/galleries/pdf/Navigant%20Consulting%20Report%209.15.08.pdf)

Juan Carlo's commentary on these solar job tips:
The first tip, check your background and where it fits in the solar industry, is solid advice. Chances are you know yourself better than anyone and just because you want to break into a new industry doesn't mean you need to start from scratch. I would like to remind people that green jobs and the new green economy shouldn't scare anyone, it's just a new market to apply already mastered skills. So by all means dive right in!
Secondly, the two-day hands-on solar installation course may be a marketing ploy. I find little value in for someone in sales or administration to get hands-on installation training. Of course solar installers should take the course, but you didn't need an article to know that. As far as the advanced solar energy degrees go, most programs are in the nativity. There isn't a recommended program that's been around for twenty years and unless employers are requesting them, it would seem regular education with solar energy certificates may be the way to go. This may be the case where industry is ahead of academia.
Lastly, instead of knowing the solar industry, I suggest getting to know the solar customer. I've attended a couple of solar industry events (Intersolar North America  and Clean Energy Summit), and I felt much of it was marketing and politicizing. For the real nitty gritty, you're going to have to sit down and read the reports from the source. But what you'll find everywhere are a bunch of facts and figures basically saying "Solar is growing, prices are dropping, there's no better time to buy/get into solar..." However, to provide value to your solar company, you may need to know what the customers around in your area require.

Photo Credit: Solar Today

Juan Carlo Pascua is looking for green energy entrepreneurs to do interviews.