According to The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, 2013 was a record-shattering year, with the solar industry employing nearly 143,000 Americans as of November 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar workers over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012.
During the period covered by the Census, solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment rate of 1.9 percent. This growth rate is also significant in that it shows – for the first time ever – the solar industry exceeded the growth projections made in the previous year’s report.
Other noteworthy findings from Census 2013 include:
• Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
• Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22 percent, an increase of 12,500 workers.
• Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6 percent over the next 12 months, representing the addition of about 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.
• Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.
• About 91 percent of those who met the definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100 percent of their time working on solar.
• Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20.00 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15.00 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.