The number of rooftop solar systems installed in Australia each year continually sets and breaks new records. Rooftop solar installation and maintenance skills will always be needed in Australia.
The design phase of a solar and/or battery system can be undertaken by either university qualified engineers or electricians – what is important is the end-to-end knowledge of the individual rather than the training pathway. The Clean Energy Council is an accreditation body for rooftop solar and battery designers and installers in Australia. PV design engineers with Clean Energy Council design accreditation are in high demand.
Although the professional workforce of the small-scale (or distributed) renewable energy sector consists primarily of engineers and system designers, there are also key roles in marketing, sales, and business management in both retail and installation.
The installation of the system is always performed by a licensed electrician. Electricians are in high demand across the country as demand for residential and commercial solar systems continues to grow. Electricians are often supported by electrical trade assistants and electrical apprentices. The trade assistant role requires minimal formal training and can offer a glimpse into the career as a pathway into an electrical qualification.
The electrician apprenticeship requires the individual to gain skills and experience across many areas of electrical work, some of which can be done in the installation of rooftop solar systems. Roofers often also support the work of rooftop solar installations. To be a roofer, a trade is needed in building and construction. Almost half of the entire small-scale solar workforce is made up of electricians, apprentices, electrical trade assistants and roofers with solar expertise.
Also in demand are installation operations specialists with two or more years of experience in organising, managing and liaising with installation contractors to ensure the smooth and safe installation of battery and solar systems at the residential level.
Rooftop solar systems cannot be installed without electricians – they are crucial – but they make up just one fifth of that workforce as they are supported by a range of experts.
Legally, the maintenance of rooftop solar and/or battery systems can be undertaken by any licensed electrician. However, the work is best done by an electrician with training and experience working with solar systems.
The benefit of a job in rooftop solar, is that it is needed everywhere that there are houses in Australia, although in more regional areas an installer may need to cover a greater area.
To claim federal and some state incentives, solar installation companies must ensure that the supervising electrician on the installation job is a Clean Energy Council accredited installer. The Clean Energy Council offers a series of different types of accreditation covering grid-connected solar or battery systems, off-grid solar systems, and micro wind or hydro systems.
To become a Clean Energy Council accredited solar (or battery) installer, the installer must be a qualified electrician and have completed certain prerequisite units through a TAFE or private training organisation.
The process involves two types of assessment: an online assessment and a practical component to demonstrate competency in the installation of a system. Accreditation is annual and a certain number of continuous professional development points must be demonstrated through approved training each year for the accreditation to remain valid.
As well as being able to take advantage of government incentives, Clean Energy Council accreditation provides access to ongoing technical support and updated information on standards, guidelines and product testing.
Visit the Clean Energy Council's website for more information on the types of accreditation, the accreditation process and training organisations that offer prerequisite courses.