What job opportunities are available in the Australian solar industry?

Solar installers rally outside Victoria's Parliament House this week.

The Australian solar industry is healthy, smart and growing. In fact, the figures speak for themselves.

  • Australia now has 2 million rooftop solar installations, Clean Energy Council figures show.
  • Solar jobs in January 2018 passed the 10,000 mark for combined solar projects, according to Green Energy Markets.
  • Victoria’s renewable energy boom will create around 6,000 jobs each year.
  • Queensland will create more than 1,500 ongoing full-time jobs if all planned renewable projects go ahead, according to a Solar Citizens report.
Australian solar industry has plenty of job opportunities.

Solar farms offer plenty of job opportunities in regional areas. Image: Pixabay

Even the staunchest critics of solar power and solar batteries are coming out of the closet. Ousted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the Smart Energy Summit in December 2018:

“The cost of coal cannot compete with renewables and storage which are cheaper; that is how we get to lower energy prices, everyone has to open their eyes to the reality.”

Australian solar industry: A job for everyone

So, a career in the Australian solar industry is not only appealing – it also makes sound economic sense.

Bear in mind that the small-scale solar sector (including rooftop solar panels and home solar batteries) offers different opportunities to large-scale projects like solar farms and commercial installations.

Let’s take a look at the main roles available in this burgeoning area.

1. Solar installer

Solar installers are the bedrock of the sector. Without them, the Australian solar industry would grind to a halt.

All Australian installers must be A grade electricians. Many firms also require their solar electricians to have Clean Energy Council (CEC) accreditation.

2. Solar energy engineer

These experts are also called alternative energy engineers, photovoltaic (PV) design engineers or solar array engineers.

They work in the manufacturing, construction, and maintenance of solar power materials and solar energy plants. They also specialise in the process of utilising sunlight to create electricity.

Various kinds of engineers work in the solar industry, however – chemical, computer software, electrical, industrial and mechanical to name a few.

3. Solar project developer

This role involves project managing new solar ventures and developing a pipeline of utility-scale solar PV plants.

Solar project developers plan, monitor and report on projects. They also manage the relationship with various stakeholders. These could include local government, suppliers and power companies.

Most solar project developers have a sound, technical background in the solar industry. Experience of large-scale projects is also preferred.

Australian solar industry has plenty of jobs on offer.

Electricians are in strong demand in the solar trade. Image: Pixabay

4. Sales account manager

This position can cover both residential and commercial solar accounts. You will need to reach specified solar sales targets and build sales teams in various locations.

You would also initiate marketing strategies and business development plans.

Employers are likely to expect a technical background in an industry like engineering, construction, telecommunications or power.

5. Door to door solar lead generator

There are plenty of roles available for sales people to get out and about spreading the solar word.

Confidence and sales flair are definitely required. You will be expected to generate sales leads, make appointments and work hard under pressure to meet your targets.

Not for the faint-hearted, the job offers abundant rewards for the right person.

6. Technical support: Solar sales and marketing

You’ll need outstanding customer service skills for this job. That’s because you’ll be offering phone and email support to customers, solar installers and project partners.

As a trouble-shooter, you will need sound industry experience and knowledge of solar technology. You could be liaising between the sales team and service department so you need to know your solar!

7. Solar content specialist

As the Australian solar industry grows, so does the need to tell people about it. Content specialists are therefore increasingly being employed by solar companies.

They can write convincingly about the industry and monitor energy policy and developments. They can also build and maintain a strong online presence across the company website and social media channels.

8. Solar farm operators and labourers

Solar farms and utility-scale solar projects always need general labourers.

They also need machine operators, trade assistants and telehandler operators with experience in the building industry.

Tasks can include piling solar posts, erecting tracking systems and installing solar panels.

Contact the Smart Energy Training Centre

Other solar roles include a variety of management, marketing and also customer service positions. So there’s sure to be something for you if you want to shine in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Smart Energy Training Centre has been set up to develop professional training courses for solar candidates.

The Smart Energy Council created the centre as an industry-first initiative. It’s also a one-stop-shop for everyone interested in getting a foothold in the Australian solar industry.