Solar engineers create solar cells that collect and store the sun's rays. They work with clients to design, plan and implement solar energy projects for cities, businesses, and homeowners.
Solar engineers plan, design, and implement solar energy projects. They may manage anything from large-scale municipal projects to home rooftop installations. The engineer typically begins with a client consultation, site assessment, and financial assessment, which help him or her understand the project's context. The engineer then designs an appropriate plan that takes all relevant factors into account. He or she may also oversee or manage implementation of the plan. Solar engineers may also need to report on the efficiency, cost, and safety of the project. The engineer may also be on call to deal with outages, emergencies, and system maintenance.
Solar engineers may also conduct financial reviews, ensure regulatory compliance, inspect installation sites, and write technical reports. Computer skills are essential for creating designs and testing photovoltaic systems.
Most solar engineers work in offices, but may also travel frequently to different work sites, including overseas locations. They often must climb ladders onto rooftops to inspect installations, and may need to carry heavy loads for short distances.
According to the Solar Foundation, California is by far the leading state for solar jobs in general, with over 10,000 solar jobs as of 2013. New Mexico offers the second highest number of solar jobs. New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts are also home to relatively high numbers of jobs in the solar industry.