The fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census shows the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013.
The Solar Foundation (TSF) census found 23,682 solar jobs were added over the previous year, which represents 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. Of those positions, installers were the most common, growing by 22% – an increase of 12,500 workers.
The Census report notes average solar installer earnings are comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers.
Most of the newly created jobs are generally not entry-level positions; with just over half requiring at least some solar experience, and 28% needing at least a bachelor degree. Only approximately 12 percent required an associate degree or certificate from an accredited college.
TSF says solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate for the period.
“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, Executive Director and President of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53 percent in the last four years alone, adding nearly 50,000 jobs.
In comparison, jobs in the fossil fuel electric generation sector shrank by 8.7 percent during the same period.
The good news on solar jobs appears it will continue during 2014, with employers expecting to add another 22,000 positions this year. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add staff.
A related press release from TSF states cost savings are driving uptake of solar panels in the USA – 51.4 percent of customers report going solar to save money, and another 22.9 percent because costs are now competitive with utility rates.
The fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census can be viewed in full here.