Return to the Roof

This special story is part of our "Sponsor a Bright Future" Earth Day Fundraiser. We are raising $5,000 to pay for one student's tuition in our solar installation training program. Please donate today to support a bright future for the planet and a student. 

For the first time since we modified our curriculum to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles (GRID GLA) has been able to return to the roof with our solar installation students. Our latest cohort of Installation Basics Training (IBT) trainees are getting real, hands-on experience on rooftops again, helping our construction crew install solar panels for individuals and families.

What is the IBT course?

Our free Installation Basic Training program runs over 13 weeks, providing 25-30 trainees with the tools and experience to kick-start a new career in one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Our inclusive IBT courses are especially popular because we don’t turn anyone away. We accept everyone, regardless of background. Whether you have experience or not, starting a new career can be daunting, so our courses are tailored for all ability levels. All we ask trainees to bring is a positive mindset and a willingness to learn that will jump-start a new career.

Classroom to warehouse

GRID GLA solar installation training in our warehouse
Solar Training Supervisor David teaching a group of captivated IBT students in the GRID GLA warehouse 

Trainees start off in the classroom, where the foundations are taught to gain a basic understanding of solar and construction. During classroom learning, trainees benefit from learning job site safety, solar installation, construction, and electrical skills. They also make invaluable connections to potential employers through one on one introductions and job fairs. The program also covers resume-writing and interview preparation.

Classroom learning is then built upon by applying new skills on mock roofs in our warehouse lab.

Until recently, as a result of COVID regulations in LA County, this was as far as our courses could go, but we are over the moon to be welcoming our trainees back to the roof in 2023.

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A breath of fresh air from the roofs

Once trainees have mastered the mocks, it’s time to fine-tune skills and take on the real thing. This is where trainees can put theoretical knowledge into practice - helping our construction crews with real-world installations for real clients. The solar installations trainees participate in are for homeowners are receiving free solar that will drastically reduce their monthly bills, so our install days are often joyful, with a sense of accomplishment and camaraderie in the air. Having our trainees join the installs adds an additional layer of accomplishment and community building. 

One trainee confirmed the value of being on the roofs saying, “It means a lot, going from training to actually transferring it to a real install.” Another trainee adds, “It allowed me to get a better feel of how the actual job is going to be like. It made me more comfortable in this field of work.”

“It felt like I was accomplishing something good for the first time in a long time”

- IBT Trainee 

Many trainees have said that the combination of expertise and positive outlook on getting you up on the roofs and into the solar workplace is like a breath of fresh air. One trainee described how being on the roofs and helping customers gave him a profound sense of achievement that he hadn’t experienced for a while. “It felt like I was accomplishing something good for the first time in a long time” This is a testament to the trainee’s hard work and the unwavering dedication of our team.

GRID GLA trainees learning at a solar install

Solar Installation Supervisor Rudy speaking with trainees at a solar installation 
GRID GLA IBT students
Trainees in our 2023 Q1 Cohort at a solar installation 

What next? 

Upon completing the course, all trainees have the opportunity to achieve industry certificates ranging from safety and installation to electrical wiring. In-demand skills and qualifications combined with practical roof experience open the doors to a meaningful career in the exploding world of solar.

The solar boom

You don’t have to look far to see why solar power is creating so many new jobs. Right here in  LA County, solar power is having a big impact. Most solar workers are employed in installation and project development, and when it comes to installations, Los Angeles tops the list as the nation's leading city. The demand for solar jobs in LA is only expected to grow. 

At GRID GLA, we are proud to place our students onto a career pathway into the booming solar industry. We have trained over 4,000 students in solar installation since 2007, and 75% of our IBT graduates go on to find employment in the green energy sector. Graduates from our program report making an hourly wage of $23/hour or $83k/year on average, with with 75% working 30-40+ hours/week. 80% of trainees who come through our program face barriers to employment due to past arrest or conviction records. We work hard to push the transition to clean energy to include everyone.

IBT trainees at a solar install
IBT trainees at a solar installation 

How do I sign up?

Whether you’ve got experience or are looking for a fresh start, IBT courses might be the perfect opportunity to start an exciting new chapter in your life.

The program is open to: 

  • 18 years old+
  • LA County residents
  • Those able to lift a minimum 50lbs

Register your interest today:

Please take a moment to support our IBT program today. Even $5 goes a long way towards paying one student's tuition. 

donate to support GRID GLA