The SunShot Initiative's Solar Ready Vets® program connects our nation’s skilled veterans to the solar energy industry, preparing them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations. Solar Ready Vets is enabled by the U.S. Department of Defense’s SkillBridge initiative, which allows exiting military personnel to pursue civilian job training, employment skills training, apprenticeships, and internships up to six months prior to their separation.
Employment in the U.S. solar industry increased 123% since 2010, and veterans are strong candidates to fill solar positions because they are disciplined, motivated, and technically savvy. Solar Ready Vets trains active military personnel who are in “transitioning military” status – within a few months of leaving military service and becoming a veteran – and it prepares them to be strong candidates for positions in management, PV installation, sales, as well as technical positions.
Launched as a pilot program in 2014, Solar Ready Vets is now a national program administered by The Solar Foundation under the Solar Training and Education for Professionals (STEP) funding program. STEP is helping to advance America’s solar workforce by providing innovative training programs that will help to meet President Obama’s goal to train 75,000 in solar energy by 2020.
TRAINING PROGRAM DETAILS
The Solar Ready Vets training program is based on the specific needs of high-growth solar employers and is tailored to build on the technical skills that veterans have acquired through their service. Each training cohort trains approximately 20 active military personnel per class and lasts between four to six weeks. Programs include hands-on instruction that takes place in a classroom setting, though some cohorts have a hybrid format of online and in-person classes. There is no out-of-pocket cost to the service member or the military base.
Toward the end of the course, students take the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam to earn the most widely recognized entry-level PV installation credential across the country. After graduation from Solar Ready Vets, service members interview with leading national and regional solar companies for a wide variety of jobs within the industry. Service members who complete the program are highly competitive candidates for jobs as solar photovoltaic system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related opportunities.
Military bases were selected by the Department of Energy, in partnership with the Department of Defense and military branches, based on the number of exiting military personnel from the installation, the strength of the surrounding solar market, and the training capacity of nearby training institutions. Solar Ready Vets is currently available at the following military installations:
- Camp Pendleton in California – U.S. Marine Corps
- Fort Carson in Colorado – U.S. Army
- Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia – U.S. Navy
- Hill Air Force Base in Utah – U.S. Air Force
- Fort Drum in New York – U.S. Army
- Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey – U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy
- Eglin Air Force Base in Florida – U.S. Air Force
- Marine Corps Base Hawaii – U.S. Marine Corps
- Joint Base San Antonio in Texas – U.S. Air Force and Army
- Fort Bragg in North Carolina – U.S. Army
Solar Ready Vets expanded from five bases to a total of 10 military bases in May 2016. All bases that wish to apply for a Solar Ready Vets training program can do so directly through The Solar Foundation. Learn more about the training program in our frequently asked questions.
SOLAR JOB GROWTH
As of November 2015, there are nearly 209,000 solar workers in the United States, up from 174,000 in 2014. This marks the third consecutive year in which employment growth was at 20% or higher. In 2015, one in every 83 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, representing nearly 1.2% of all new jobs. That equals 96 jobs created every day in the solar industry.
This growth isn’t expected to stop. The solar industry expects double digit job growth in 2016. Solar employment is expected to grow by 14.7% over the next year, which is almost eight times faster than the projected 1.74% U.S. employment growth rate.
According to The Solar Foundation, there are 16,835 U.S. veterans working at solar establishments across the United States, exceeding the percentage of veterans in the broader U.S. workforce. As the more than 190,000 veterans who will be leaving the U.S. military each year for the next several years transition to civilian life, Solar Ready Vets provides a way for veterans to continue serving our country by helping to build a clean energy economy.
Learn more about job growth in the solar industry from The Solar Foundation’s 2015 National Solar Jobs Census.
SOLAR TRAINING NETWORK
SunShot’s Solar Training Network allows for greater connection between solar employers, trainers and training institutions, workforce investment boards, and trainees and job seekers in order to meet ever-changing market demands, especially in regions where solar energy is rapidly expanding. It partners with leading solar workforce development and training organizations to connect people interested in solar careers with the training they need to enter the industry and the solar employers who need skilled workers. Veterans who are not eligible for the Solar Ready Vets program are encouraged to explore the training opportunities that exist under the Solar Training Network. Learn more.
Information from SunShot
- Frequently asked questions about Solar Ready Vets
- How to hire veterans in solar energy
- Press Release from May 17, 2016: Energy Department Launches Five New Solar Ready Vets Training Locations, Announces $10 Million for National Solar Training Programs
- Blog Post from February 18, 2016: Solar Ready Vets: Inside the Training
- Blog Post from January 6, 2016: Taking Solar Training for Veterans to a New Level in 2016
- Blog Post from November 10, 2015: Honoring Our Veterans through Jobs in Solar Energy
- Blog Post from June 26, 2015: Training Veterans to Work in the Rapidly Growing Solar Industry
- Blog Post from April 27, 2015: Joining Forces: Clean Energy Companies Commit to Hire Veterans
- Blog Post from April 6, 2015: Solar Ready Vets: Preparing Our Veterans to Join the Growing Solar Workforce
- Press Release from Feb. 13, 2015: Three Military Bases Partner with Energy Department to Train Veterans for Solar Jobs
- Blog Post from Feb. 13, 2015: Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative Trains Veterans for Solar Jobs
- Blog Post from Nov. 7, 2014: Leveraging Veteran Talent: The Opportunity for the Clean Energy Industry
- Press Release from Sept. 18, 2014: White House Highlights New DOE Measures to Advance Renewable Energy Deployment and Increase Energy Efficiency
- Blog Post from Sept. 4, 2014: Training Veterans for Careers in Clean Energy
- Solar Energy Career Map
Information from SunShot Partners
- White House Fact Sheet, April 3, 2015: Administration Announces Actions To Drive Growth In Solar Energy And Train Workers For Clean-Energy Jobs
- The Solar Training Network
- The Solar Foundation’s 2015 National Solar Jobs Census
Sign up for the SunShot Initiative’s monthly newsletter for the latest information on future training locations. Bases interested in the Solar Ready Vets program can contact The Solar Foundation, the national administrator for the Solar Ready Vets program.
For media inquiries, please email the Energy Department's Office of Public Affairs at DOENews@hq.doe.gov and be sure to reference "SunShot Initiative" in the email subject line.
To receive the latest news about the military training program, including any announcements about future training locations, please sign up for the Energy Department's media list here.