Which Degrees Help You Work in the Solar Energy Industry?

The solar energy industry has such a wide range of occupations available that it attracts professionals with diverse qualifications! Covering the cycle of research and development, manufacturing, sales, installation, operation, and everything in between, it’s among the fastest-growing industries today, too.

Just think of the possibilities for career advancement that will come with earning one of these degrees within the solar energy industry. While it’s true that many jobs in the industry only require a high school diploma and intensive on-the-job training, even an associate degree will boost your career advancement opportunities. 

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Here are some of the best degrees that you can earn to become competitive in the solar energy industry and their possible applications. 

solar energy industry degrees

Associates and Bachelor’s in the Solar Energy Industry

Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineers design or develop the processes and equipment for the manufacture of solar energy-related products. Their job also involved planning and testing the manufacturing methods for solar cells, semiconductors, and thin-film panels.

Their knowledge and skills in chemistry enable them to engage in the research and development of new products and processes for the solar energy industry. 

Materials Engineering

New materials have fueled and continue to fuel mankind’s greatest achievements in diverse areas of life, from medicine and agriculture to engineering. This is true for the solar energy industry where new materials improve the efficiency of solar power generation and applications.

Materials engineers work with metals, plastics, and semiconductors, among other existing materials, in creating new materials for solar cells and other products. 

Electrical Engineering

As a distinct engineering discipline, electrical engineering involves the study, development, and application of systems, equipment, and devices that utilize electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics.

In the solar energy industry, electrical engineers design the electrical circuitry and wiring systems for solar panels and their adjunct devices. 

Electronics Engineering

This is one of the sub-disciplines of electrical engineering, and it’s concerned with smaller devices like consumer electronics.

Electronics engineering covers numerous areas of study including analog and digital electronics, radio engineering, and solid-state physics, which have wide applications in the solar energy industry. 

Industrial Engineering

Professionals with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering are adept at the maximization of complex systems, processes, and organizations through the optimization of the basic factors of production. These factors include people, money, materials, machines, energy and information, thus making industrial engineering integral in the manufacture of solar energy products.

With industrial engineers at the helm, manufacturing operations become more effective and efficient. 

Mechanical Engineering

With its broad coverage, mechanical engineering degrees are among the most sought-after qualifications in the solar energy industry. Mechanical engineers combine mathematics principles, engineering physics, and materials science in the design, development, and operations of mechanical systems.

Their duties cover solar panels and cells, as well as electric generators and pumps in solar power plants. 

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers are the best professionals to call for the design, construction, and repair of solar power plants and their related infrastructures. Solar power plants and photovoltaic plants have special requirements, thus, the imperative need for trained civil engineers with specialist knowledge. 

Software Development or Software Engineering

The crucial importance of computer programs including dedicated software in the solar energy industry cannot be overemphasized!

This is where software developers and software engineers prove the most valuable, from the development of software to predict weather patterns to troubleshooting issues in computer systems. 

Construction Management

Professionals with a degree in construction management have the knowledge and skills to oversee complex solar power plant construction projects.

Their skill set also includes human resource leadership considering that construction sites have diverse workers, from construction workers and operators to engineers and scientists. 

Solar Photovoltaic Installation

Solar photovoltaic installers are instrumental in the installation and maintenance including repairs and replacements of solar panels in residential and commercial projects.

Their duties include attaching the solar panels, working with hand and power tools, and installing electrical wiring, which requires specialized training. 

Power Plant Technology

Power plant operators are responsible for monitoring power generation processes at power plants. Their duties also include monitoring the solar generators and arrays, regulating generator output, and ensuring stable voltage. Their main concern is also about safety, thus, their emphasis is on accurate record-keeping of maintenance records. 

Engineering Technology

Engineering technicians only need an associate degree to enter the engineering field albeit at entry-level junior positions. Their main duty is to provide assistance to licensed engineers in finding effective solutions for technical problems in the development, production and construction, and maintenance of solar energy systems.

Their CAD skills are also valued because of the industry’s heavy reliance on computer-aided design.

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