Earlier this month, The Solar Foundation released the 2018 National Solar Jobs Census and reported that more than 242,000 people are employed in the U.S. solar industry. Although some states saw declines in solar jobs last year, strong renewable energy policies like California’s rooftop solar mandate and 100 percent renewable energy standards will drive growth in the solar industry in the years to come. Solar jobs are good jobs with competitive pay and low barriers to entry. Strong workforce development programs, like GRID’s hands-on training, are key to ensuring individuals with fewer financial resources and more barriers to employment are able to access careers in the industry.
Let's meet some folks who started their solar careers with GRID!
Name: Jarell Stewart
Location: San Diego, CA
Position: Commercial Solar Installer
"I was interested in sustainability because I saw the opportunity to really make a career out of solar."
After five years of military service, Jarell wanted to move into a career in technology. He studied automotive technology and worked part-time retail jobs before learning about GRID San Diego’s Troops to Solar program through the organization I Am My Brother’s Keeper. In October 2018, Jarell started his 10-week journey with Troops to Solar and worked on dozens of installations. Now, Jarell is working for a local solar company doing commercial installations and considering applying for longer-term solar installer positions or going back to school for solar design.
Location: Denver, CO
Position: Electrical Apprentice, Circuitus Energy Solutions (CES)
"I applied [to GRID] and BOOM, my solar career started in the best way possible."
After graduating from college and working in the mental health field, Aspen decided to switch gears. She wanted to work with her hands, but she wasn’t sure how. After trying out several different types of construction positions, she settled on solar. Aspen served as a SolarCorps Construction Fellow from 2017-2018 with GRID in Colorado, an experience which led her to her current position with Circuitus Energy Solutions (CES). Aspen now works on solar installations all over the place - she was just working on a solar carport at Mount Rushmore!
Location: Washington, D.C.
Position: Multifamily Solar Installer, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic
"I see the growth potential solar has in the city. I've got plan to get into project management."
Vernon hadn’t thought much about a career in solar before last year. He’d worked as a caregiver, club promoter, and maintenance engineer in Washington, D.C. before he heard about Solar Works DC from a friend. Vernon is all about working with his hands, so a solar career seemed like a great fit. After completing the 12-week program, Vernon is now a multifamily solar installer with GRID Mid-Atlantic.
Name: Justin Council
Location: Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Position: Operations Manager, JDC Energy Solutions
“The initial thing that interested me in solar is the fact that it’s a positive career. It’s a green job and is helping to reduce emissions as well as making a paycheck.”
Justin began his solar career as a volunteer with GRID Greater Los Angeles in 2015. He worked in the service industry until a co-worker suggested he look into a local solar technician program. and one of Justin’s professors recommended he get hands-on experience with GRID. That year Justin clocked in over 30 solar installations. He found that all his installation experience gave him a leg-up and he was able to lock down a job soon after graduating. Justin gives a lot of credit to his GRID mentors Nick, Eddy, and Adewale! Now, three years later, Justin has touched almost every aspect of the solar business from design and permitting to installation.
Location: Denver, CO
Position: Senior Field Technician, Tesla
"I really enjoy working outdoors. I like that the work I do helps the environment and I also like the idea of energy independence.”
Miles was working toward his Associates Degree in Solar Photovoltaic Specialty AAS at Red Rocks Community College when he heard about GRID Alternatives at a Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association job fair. After graduation, Miles applied and was selected to serve as a SolarCorps Construction Fellow in Colorado. Following completion of his SolarCorps year of service, Miles found employment as a senior field technician with Tesla and is also attending school to pursue his electrical license.
Name: Lucy Conde
Location: San Diego, CA
Position: Customer Care Specialist, GRID Alternatives
“Some people were nervous about me getting on the roof, but I showed everybody what I could do.”
Lucy gained knowledge and experience with solar as a volunteer with GRID San Diego. After a friend got solar with GRID, Lucy started volunteering in spring 2018 and soon became a fixture at local installations. Lucy had moved to San Diego 17 years ago from Tijuana and GRID’s recent international installations have really hit home. She says she sees how access to affordable solar power has the potential to transform neighborhoods in San Diego and Mexico.
Location: Bishop, CA
Position: SolarCorps Construction Fellow, GRID Inland Empire
"The advice I would give someone considering a career in solar is to ask a lot of questions and always be open and willing to learn new things."
Kanyon, a tribal member who grew up in Bishop, California, came to solar through GRID's Solar Futures program. Following a three-month Bishop Paiute internship position with GRID Inland Empire, Kanyon applied and was selected for a 13-month SolarCorp Construction Fellowship in collaboration with the tribe and a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Once he completes his fellowship, Kanyon would like to continue working at GRID and plans to apply for a full-time position.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Position: Multifamily Solar Installer, GRID Mid-Atlantic
"There's a lot of room for advancement and I ultimately want to become an energy inspector."
Steven is a community activist who loves sharing his experiences with young people in Washington, D.C. because he envisions a brighter future for residents of the district. He became aware of GRID in 2017 through a local flyer and decided solar was his next career. Steven completed the Solar Works DC program last year and loved engaging with the homeowners who were getting solar. He felt the program prepared him to take on opportunities in the solar industry and now is working as a multifamily solar installer with GRID Mid-Atlantic full-time!
The SolarCorps Fellowship Program is part of the AmeriCorps network of programs. SolarCorps is made possible with funding support from AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA, and Bank of America. AmeriCorps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency for volunteering, service, and civic engagement. CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.