Solar energy has been a male-dominated industry, but things are changing. In New Jersey and across the US, companies in the solar industry are more diverse than other comparable industries like construction, oil and gas, and utilities. Women currently make up 27% of the solar companies’ workforce (67,204 employees), up from 22% in 2014. At NJ solar companies, women make up 44% of mid-level jobs and 55% hold the position of manager, director or president. In 2016 alone, half the new jobs created in solar companies (about 25,000) were occupied by women.
This is not to say that there are not any diversity issues at solar companies. White men are more likely than white women or men or women of color to earn top tier wages. The bright side is that 35% of solar companies actively track new and existing employee gender and ethnic diversity while striving for a more diverse workforce. This is because a more diverse workforce in a solar company is strongly correlated with financial performance.
Working in the solar industry is not just about installing panels on roofs. Solar companies in NJ employ professionals with skills in software development, distribution, and sales, maintenance of solar panels and operation of solar plants. Here are the careers available for women in the solar industry.
Industrial Production Managers
Industrial production managers ensure that the production is running effectively, on-schedule and safely. They supervise the operations in a solar panel production facility and continually evaluate procedures and equipment. Industrial production managers may also make changes to improve production.
Construction managers are responsible for the daily operations of solar plant construction sites. These tasks include managing all phases of construction work and performing office tasks such as handling contracts and permits as well as ensuring construction activities are done on time, on budget and safely.
Electricians fix, install and maintain wiring and electrical fixtures. They can install solar power systems on commercial buildings and private homes as well as work solar plant construction sites. In some jurisdictions, licensed electricians must be hired to connect private and public solar systems to electrical grids.
Sales representatives usually work in sales offices or stores and make calls to businesses or individuals to provide quotes and proposals, create contracts and make presentations. They are the first line of contact between customers and manufacturers of solar products.
Operations and General Managers
Solar energy companies need people with solid management and technical skills. Operations and General Managers participate in creating organizational policies and oversee the company’s daily operations.
Steamfitters, Plumbers, and Pipefitters
Steamfitters, plumbers, and pipefitters are required in the operation or construction of solar plants. Materials under pressure and high temperatures must be regulated and monitored regularly.
Human Resource Managers
Human resources managers are responsible for interviewing and hiring new staff, serving as the link between employees and management and participating in the company’s strategic planning.
Solar Voltaic Installers
They install solar equipment in commercial and residential buildings. Solar voltaic installers plan system configuration, connect panels to the power grid, perform routine maintenance and test systems to confirm proper performance.