Learn more about solar energy by reading magazines such as Solar Industry (https://solarindustrymag.com), and Solar Today (https://ases.org/solartoday). Visit Web sites like Build It Solar (https://www.builditsolar.com) to find all sorts of links to solar projects, designs, and experiments that you might even be interested in doing yourself. Get involved in student programs and competitions to expand your knowledge of solar energy and collaborate with others who share the same interests. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, which “challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, energy-efficient, and attractive.” Visit https://www.solardecathlon.gov for more information. Conduct an informational interview with a solar energy professional. Your school's career services office can help you set up an interview.
Solar energy installation managers are responsible for installing and supervising the installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar and solar thermal systems. PV solar systems convert solar energy into electricity and solar thermal systems convert solar energy to heat water and air. Solar energy installation managers install these types of solar systems for residences and commercial properties.
Installation managers who work for large companies may oversee the work of installers; those who work for small companies may handle multiple tasks that include installation work. They prepare proposals for solar projects, which include price quotes, budgets, and timelines for the planned work. They meet with clients to discuss these proposals and negotiate the terms. They determine the feasibility of solar projects and the design requirements at residential and commercial sites. They then estimate the types of materials and equipment required for the work as well as the workers that are qualified for the projects. Managers also make sure that all aspects of the proposed solar projects are in compliance with codes and regulations. They coordinate and schedule inspections of buildings for solar installation projects.
Solar energy installation managers make sure that the solar panels that are attached to roofs of buildings or other structures are installed correctly. They identify problems, come up with solutions, and oversee repairs. They monitor contractors' and subcontractors' work to make sure the work is done according to the project plans, is in line with the budget, and meets deadlines. Installation managers purchase or rent solar energy installation equipment, perform tests on systems, and assess the performance of systems.
Installation managers use computer-aided design software in their work, including Autodesk AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D. They also use photo imaging software such as Microsoft Visio, and project management software such as Microsoft Project and Oracle Primavera Systems.