By Morgan Pierce

Updated August 28th, 2023

Europe needs to fill more than a million jobs in the solar energy sector to meet its climate change targets for 2030, limit reliance on Russian gas, and improve its energy security.

The rapid increase in demand for solar means that demand for workers is rising faster than in many other sectors of the economy.

Jobs in renewable energy production can offer great opportunities for well-paid, challenging and rewarding work for students – no matter their socio-economic or educational background. Those of us working in the solar energy sector need to be proactive in reaching out to marginalized groups, young people and women –  to ensure that they have the skills to access those jobs.

According to a study by LinkedIn, the number of jobs in the “green economy” grew by 8% per year over the last five years. By contrast, however, the number of people listing green skills in their profiles grew by only 6% per year.

Those are numbers that can be translated into “opportunities” for Leaving Cert students and others looking for a career.

A brief look today at on-line jobs finder lists openings in following categories: Administrator – Solar Installations; Electrician (Solar); Project Manager – Solar PV (Renewable Energy); Solar PV Area Sales Manager; Residential Renewable Sales Executive;

There are pages and pages of them. And that’s just today. Someday, you might even find a listing for a job similar to my own – solar energy blogger!

Don’t just take our word for it., Ireland’s National Career Guidance website, provides up-to-date and relevant career information and resources. The site offers pages of career options and educational opportunities – including course information and entry requirements –  for training in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), Environment & Construction sectors.

This page, for example, provides all the information one would need to find a path to becoming an engineer in the solar energy sector.

What kind of jobs are available for engineers in solar? This page describes just one possible option – a “Solar Design Engineer”

Description: Solar engineers work within the broader field of electrical engineering to design and develop solar systems that turn energy into electricity. Solar design engineers reduce dependency on gas and oil, and design systems that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. 

Knowledge Required: Solar design engineers must have knowledge of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, structural requirements, local climates and thermodynamics. They must also be proficient in computer-aided design software, and oral and written communication.

What if you aren’t currently prepared for Third Level, or do not want to go? If you are a student, or someone advising a student, where do you then find the skills needed for a job in solar?

For a long time Ireland, like other developed countries, has emphasized the importance of third level education as the only route to a well-paying job and a secure future. The truth is that some jobs in our sector don’t require a university degree – apprenticeships and PLC certificate courses can offer a solid entre into a career in renewables. 

“Solar Project Manager”, for instance, is a role that is essential to rolling out solar power – from single homes to vast arrays. Many entry level “Project Manager” positions require only a secondary school education. The skills are “learned in the field” and can be “enhanced in the classroom” with post-leaving certifications or training.

It’s an exciting time for jobs in the green economy. Some jobs simply require physical agility, commitment, a willingness to learn on the job, and enthusiasm for being part of a sustainable future.

Find out how much you will save every year once you go solar